The Impact of the Promising Success of Multilingual Children’s Books

As multilingual children’s books grow in popularity, it’s vital to understand the importance of these books and who they impact. Read on to learn more!

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Books cover the sides while different people from children, parents, and students have opened books as they learn languages.

Over the last few years, the amount of multilingual children’s books being published has grown. More and more children and families have access to stories with languages they grew up with, families can introduce languages to their children, and everyday readers can also learn from a new culture or start learning a new language. With all these incredible learning opportunities for kids and families, the growth of multilingual books for children is something to be celebrated and certainly a necessary asset to the book publishing industry.

The Need for Multilingual Books

A family’s relationship with language looks different depending on the family. For some, parents or guardians may only speak to their child using their native language. On the other hand, children may start learning English only because of school and their family wants to introduce them to the language early on. There may even be instances where parents or guardians are huge language lovers and want to teach their child how to speak different languages and appreciate different cultures too.

No matter what the relationship to language may be, having board books and multilingual picture books allows families to connect with their children on different levels. In many ways, the books open the doors to share a love language. While there is now more of a variety of languages available for people to read, Spanish is one of the most requested and read by families and students.

A student, Daniela Palacios, noticed the need for bilingual books when her brother had difficulty understanding a Spanish book, since at the time, he only understood English. The importance of bridging the gap was clear:

All children need literature that validates their experiences and multiple identities and encourages them to interact with youth from different backgrounds. Immigrant children in the U.S. need bilingual books so they can learn English and keep up their native language skills. These books enable families like ours to bond over stories that both parent and child can understand.


Translated Books vs. Multilingual Books

Questions might come up about the difference between translated works or the need to have multilingual books when there are already translated books, but I believe that they both serve different purposes. With translated books, children can read, for example, Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Vietnamese or Dog Man in Spanish, which is an awesome opportunity to read bestsellers and popular books for children in a different language.

Vietnamese translated book cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Storm Trip.

Multilingual books don’t necessarily start with the lens of translating unless they are dual-language books with both English and another language on the same page. In a way, translated books and multilingual books engage the reader in learning, but in very different ways. Translated books lean toward readers who already have some or a higher level of understanding of a specific language. There are going to be readers who have higher levels of comprehension for both languages in multilingual books, but these books are inviting those who may know one language better than the other into reading and understanding.

With innovative stories and ideas permeating new children’s books, this hopefully means that more multilingual books can go out to readers and expand the landscape of various languages represented in books.

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