A few days ago I wrote a follow-up post to my “Raising a Bilingual Child in Japan” post from June of this year. My recent post got a lot of attention and to be honest; was a lot of fun to write. I am a father of a two year and one month old boy who is growing up learning both Japanese and English.
This topic is of course near and dear to my heart because I am living it everyday. My son’s mother is Japanese and he is growing up in Japan. His first language is Japanese, but as a trained primary school teacher, I’m trying to build on my knowledge base of language education and help my son learn English as well as Japanese. You of course don’t have to be a trained educator to teach a child a language. I’m not even sure if it helps a lot, but I have tried many techniques I have used on older children here at home. I have of course had to modify them to fit a younger learner.
I think this will become a continuing series of blogs. A lot of people seem interested in the topic.
Today I wanted to talk about a series of English storybooks my son really enjoys. These are bright, colorful and stimulating books that truly engage my son. He simply loves them and wants me to read them to him over and over again.
When my son was a little less than a year old I stumbled across a book called “The Feelings Book” by Todd Parr. It was a colorful board book (made from thick cardboard so young children cannot rip the pages) that had simple and wonderful drawings about various emotions. I brought it home and my son was hooked. Although he couldn’t speak Japanese or English at that point, he enjoyed the bright colors and shapes.
As an elementary school teacher, I have a large collection of picture books in my house. I have read many of them to my son and for the most part, he hasn’t been interested in most. I suppose it has been a learning process for me as well. Just because my six year-old students love a book, doesn’t mean a two year-old child will.
A few months ago I came across another Todd Parr book called “The Daddy Book.” At that point, and it can often change, my son was in a serious “I only want Mommy and have no interest in daddy” phase. I was trying hard to have him show an interest in me. I suppose it was only natural. He would spend all of his days with his mother and only see me after work. It was natural, but I wasn’t happy about it. I thought a book about Daddies would be perfect.
I ordered a copy of “The Daddy Book” from Amazon and as soon as it arrived my son loved it. It was written in simple English, a lot of what my son could understand. The pictures were very simple, clear and colorful. The bright colors stimulated him and definitely held his attention.
My son enjoying "The Daddy Book" by Todd Parr
I loved the book because, like all of Todd Parr’s books, it talked about diversity in the world. It talked about different kinds of Daddies who look different ways and do different things.
Within days my son was requesting the “The Daddy Book” several times a day. It became a morning ritual. Before I would head off to school every morning I would sit down with him and read him the story. He would even mutter “Daddy Book” in his sleep sometimes.
I have since ordered “The Mommy Book” and “The Family Book” and my son enjoys both of them as well.
I would suggest Todd Parr books to anyone who enjoys reading to their children. They are especially stimulating to preschool children and even babies. They teach important lessons in simple language and their pictures engage young children. His books aren’t just great for second language learners, but for all kids.
Todd Parr himself is a New York Times Best Selling children’s writer who lives in California.
You can follow what I have to say on Twitter: @jlandkev