May is Latino Book Month and the growing number of independent Spanish booksellers sprouting up around the country is an indication that Latinos/Hispanics are active readers. A growing market of Spanish and bilingual children?s books reflects that Hispanic/Latino parents recognize the benefits of reading with their children. Especially important for bilingual children, reading in both languages offers life-long benefits and increased opportunities for success.
Kids love to share special time with Mom or Dad, and reading together can provide a chance to bond. As the parent of bilingual children, I understand that it?s not always easy to the find the time, but even if it?s only a few minutes during bath time or just before bed, reading will quickly become a part of your daily ritual.
Make reading fun - When possible, participate in library events and read newspapers, magazines, books, or comic strips together. Create games for new words, and keep a Spanish/English dictionary handy. Resist the urge to use a computerized dictionary?you?re more likely to remember a word if you have to sound it out and look it up. If you don?t have time to sit down and read aloud, borrow books with audio CDs from the library and play them while riding in the car.
Countless benefits - Reading at home can give kids a boost in school and increase their confidence by providing an opportunity to practice in a comfortable environment. Your child will develop verbal skills more quickly, learn to concentrate well, and build an interest in reading. And it?s not only the kids who benefit. You can increase your English vocabulary and practice pronouncing new words.
Overcoming obstacles - Technology can pose a challenge for parents with television, movies, the Internet, and video games, vying for your kids? attention, but keeping kids active is key to holding their interest. Let your child choose what to read, ask him or her to guess what will happen next, and ask them to make up the ending for added fun.
A priceless gift - Raising our children to be literate and bilingual is a great gift. As the global leaders of tomorrow, our children will be better prepared to forge ahead into the future. Proficiency in multiple languages will open up doors of opportunity in international trade and relations, and expand their understanding of the world.
Make a commitment to read regularly with your children and invest in their future.
Heather Burns-DeMelo, of Danbury, Connecticut, is the wife of a first-generation immigrant, a mother of two, and the author of American Business 101 and American Dating 101, which are part of the Success in America series of Deer Hill Press.