Studies show reading to your child, and having them read to you, helps expose them to language early on; it strengthens their vocabulary, spelling, listening skills, and reading comprehension.
And if you take that one step further and read in a second language, it will help you in raising a bilingual child.
Not only do you have to have clearly defined goals and an easy-to-follow plan for raising a bilingual child, you also need to make sure you’re immersing them in this second language for at least 30% of their day.
“You need to continue to be immersed in the language in a significant and constructive way, it’s not just academic learning, it's learning the language meaningfully,” Marsha Rosenberg, Language Development Expert who manages the Tokyo Association of Foreign Speech and Language Pathologists. Rosenberg is also a former Speech and Language Pathologist at Nishimachi International School. “The only way your children are going to learn [a second language] is to do something outside of the school; it’s not just learning [a second language], it’s using [the second language].”
And one of the best ways to immerse them in the language is to read to them - and have them read to you. You can also use translanguaging, for example where you read the book in one language and discuss it in the other.
To get you started on equipping your bookshelf with some must-reads, here is a list of five fantastic Japanese language books to help you raise a bilingual child.
1. I'm Learning Japanese!: A Language Adventure for Young People
Intended for children nine years and older who are starting to learn Japanese, this Japanese language book combines exciting anime characters with lessons in Japanese.
Over the 128 pages, the three main characters, Emily, Nico, and Teo, learn to write, speak, and read Japanese. And as the protagonists learn, so does your child.
Written by Christian Galan, this book allows your child to learn independently and at their own pace.
2. The Toddler's Handbook
This English and Japanese language book is specifically geared towards helping parents in raising a bilingual child.
Written by Dayna Martin, in both English and Japanese, The Toddler’s Handbook includes words related to:
|• Numbers||• Shapes||• Sizes||• ABCs|
|• Animals||• Opposites||• Sounds||• Actions|
|• Sports||• Food||• Tableware||• Clothes|
|• Engines||• Emotions||• Body||• Time|
This will help your toddlers build a strong foundation in both English and Japanese before they even enter preschool.
3. Am I small? わたし、ちいさい？
Written by Philipp Winterberg, this children’s book has the protagonist, Tamia asking various mystical animals, “Am I small?” The answer she stumbles upon might just surprise you.
This book is intended for children ages two to six.
4. The Last Kappa of Old Japan: A Magical Journey of Two Friends
By Sunny Seki, this children’s classic not only showcases love, friendship, and adventure, it also helps you in raising a bilingual child - since the English has Japanese right beside it - and teaches them about the Japanese culture.
Though this book is intended for ages five to 14, it’s a book that both you and your child will fall in love with.
5. In here, out there! ここからはいって、でていく!
Written by Philipp Winterberg, this comical Japanese language book is intended for ages zero to six.
It follows the adventures of young Ruby as she struggles with the fundamental skill: listening.
Raising a bilingual child is something that needs to be continually worked on, you need to make clear goals, plans, and immerse them in the language in whatever means possible. Another tactic is enrolling them in a school with a strong language program.
Learn more about Nishimachi International School’s Japanese Language Program.