Libraries can really be magical places. They are there to help you discover books, they store wonderful worlds and they are peaceful havens for anyone who needs a quiet place to read or study.
The local library in Aix-en-Provence also hosts exhibitions for local artists, festivals, story time, and even a movie theatre. The cinema is wonderful because it shows great old films that have long since left the big screen and lets us rediscover them the way they were meant to be shown at the time.
Unfortunately, I rarely go to the library as I love to keep the books I enjoyed. My personal library is vast and I keep it in the hope that if I surround my son with books, he’ll be more likely to reach for them later, out of curiosity and habit.
So go to the library, or create your own! And remember: a book shopis where you buy books, a library is where they are free for you to borrow.
I love a beautiful hardback edition, but paperbacks are just so handy! You can always fit them in a bag, and they’re light and easy to carry.
When I’m faced with a decision between paperback and hardcover, I always have to ask myself if I plan on taking the book with me to read outside, or if I’ll just keep it on my bedside table for before bed. Hard choice!
So to be clear, a paperback edition is a small, flexible-covered edition of a book, like the one in the picture on the left.
Incidentally, I really enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom when I read it years ago. I’d recommend it for someone learning English because it’s got lots of dialogue and the language isn’t overly complicated.
What’s your favorite paperback? Let us know in the comments! Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought of it!
So, reading in a foreign language probably seems quite daunting. And, well, yeah! Okay, that last bit wasn’t a sentence, but suffice it to say that half the battle is really getting up the motivation to open up that book and keeping at it until it gradually gets easier.
For me, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, the first book I picked up by myself was Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Well, I got hooked on it (I was 22) and although I didn’t understand everything in it, my trusty little electronic dictionary provided help where I really needed it! It feels like it was ages ago, especially since in 2008 the Kindle touch hadn’t been invented yet. People also usually ask me why I didn’t just use my smartphone. I didn’t have a smartphone; I had a blackberry that was on pay as you go and 2G.
Anyway, the first bit of the book was hard because I kept having to look things up. Little by little, though, the same words kept cropping up, and eventually I remembered them. It helps that the dialogue is really very simple in Twilight and that generally the novel isn’t too complicated. So I kept going and eventually I found that I couldn’t put it down. I wanted more, and so I got the next book, and then the next one. When I finished the series, I was ready to read something a little more ambitious. So I went for Paul Auster in translation, I read Moon Palace and loved it. I was on a roll! So I just kept going, kept reading, and as if by magic, my vocabulary and understanding of grammar got much much better.
At the language school I attended, they bumped me up a level, and I was able to pass the B2 test after just 6 months of studying French, having begun as an A2. I was overjoyed! But it’s important to note here that I worked really hard. I kept a vocabulary notebook, did all my homework, spoke French at every opportunity that presented itself to me, and accepted any and all invitations to all French gatherings where I spent the better part of my first year completely silent.
So, here are some tips for reading in another language:
Don’t bother looking up every word, look up the ones you really need, and use the context for the rest.
Choose something relatively simple in the beginning, let’s leave the French philosophers alone for now.
Use an e-reader if you have one. It’s so much easier to look a word up on your Kindle than it is to type it on your phone.
Go for books you normally already enjoy. Stop by the local bookshop and ask about authors similar to ones you like. You can always go for your favorites in translation.
Finally, here are some authors I read and enjoyed in French:
Patrick Modiano – he writes beautifully and his books are short.
Laurent Gaudet – he also wrote some short and lovely books with beautiful descriptions.
Catherine Pancol – I like her because she writes about ordinary people, and there’s a lot of dialogue.
Françoise Sagan – I love her books, they’re simple, very well written, and generally short. Try Bonjour Tristesse to begin with.
Amélie Nothomb – she wrote some short stories that might be good to start with.
Those are the ones that come to mind, if you have any suggestions for books you’ve read and loved in a foreign language, leave them in the comments!
Since I’ve already written a post about what to read to your young kids, here’s another about some things you can give your (slightly) older kids.
So here is a list of 7 books that we either have, or that have been recommended to us.
All Right Already, and others by Jory John and Benji Davies.
I like this series, with Bear and Duck because of its simple drawings and witty turn of phrase. They really make for a great introduction to autonomous reading.
I also think these books are really fun for young English learners because the language is still quite simple, while the comic book style illustrations will help your child follow the story without too much trouble. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids who don’t have any notions at all of English, but certainly for those who are exposed to it regularly.
This brings me to my next series.
I Really Like Slop, an Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems
Ok, I know, I know, I’ve already put this on a previous list for young children, but these are also fab for early readers. They are funny, and easy to follow, even for children who are still learning English.
There Must be More than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake
This book is a little more difficult for English learners, but you could definitely read it with your middle schooler who has much more English in school. It’s a book that I would absolutely read with my grade 6 and 7 students (6ème and 5ème).
I love it because it’s a realistic but hopeful account of how kids might interpret the information they see and hear in the grown-up world. I love the style of drawings and I love how it creates a world of possibilities for young imaginations.
Tiny Titans by by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
This series was recommended to me. I’ve included it on the list because I think comic books and graphic novels can be great introductions for reluctant readers and young English learners. As with the previous book, these ones will be for middle school aged kids who already know the basics of English. Best practice will be to read them with your kids so that they don’t feel like a chore, unless of course you’ve got avid readers!
These next titles are also recommendations from other parents and readers’ circles
Scooby-doo Team Up! By Sholly Fisch
Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson
Fairy Tale Comics by Chris Duffy
Once again, these could be great introductions to the world of reading in English. They may be for elementary aged children, but the stories, illustrations and the fact that they are graphic novels and comics will take away from the idea that they’re « little kids’ books ».
While my own son is still too young to read these, I’m really looking forward to the day when he’ll begin asking me for more things to read on his own, or with me!
Over the past year, visiting any kind of museum has become impossible; they’re all closed. Even when they’re open, many people feel a bit nervous about going on a visit, particularly if they have loved ones with fragile health. Thank goodness, then, for technology. Today, anyone with a computer, or a tablet, and an internet connection, can go on a virtual tour. You might be thinking: but it’s not the same! I absolutely agree. However, many museums have really found their feet in their virtual worlds and have reinvented how we might go about a visit.
Here are just a few examples of how technological innovation is changing our approach to the modern museum tour.
The British Museum
The Museum of the World (https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/) is just plain cool. When you enter the museum, you are confronted with a timeline. You use this to travel through time, up and down, using your mouse, or the arrows displayed on the screen. As you travel, you will notice different coloured points, which represent the objects that have been found from each period. Each colour represents a different geographical region. What’s interesting about this, is that you can compare what was happening, or what was produced in different geographical areas around the world at roughly the same period.
When once you click on a point, you can learn more, with a high resolution image, and information about the object, which you can read or listen to. Honestly, it’s pretty awesome. There is also a legend on the right hand side from which you can choose the topic you’re most interested in, for example, art and design.
This is really something you can do on a rainy day, or in the evening by yourself or with your kids. I’ve never seen world history presented in a linear fashion like this, and it’s definitely worth taking a few minutes out of your day to see if it’s something that floats your boat.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in a more traditional online visit, you can simply navigate to the British Museum’s collection (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection) and browse to your heart’s content.
Do you like art? History? Art history? On the MET’s website, you’ll find videos, their whole collection, learning resources, and all sorts of things for kids and adults alike. They even have a site dedicated specially to kids, with videos, stories, and lot’s more.
It’s really interesting to just explore the site and get lost in all the different things that are offered.
Google Arts & Culture
Perhaps you would like to find everything in one place. Then hit up Google Arts & Culture. There you will find the online collections of all the major world museums; it’s stunning and impressive that we can see all this without ever leaving our home. Of course, you can’t beat going there in person, but few of us are able to travel so widely, even without a Pandemic raging. So, why not check it out?
Granted, this is a rather short list, but it’s already more than enough to occupy eons of your time over the next few weeks. So have a go!
And don’t forget to let us know if you have found any online collections we should know about!
Nombreux d’entre vous m’ont demandé de vous faire des recommandations de livres et de séries télé pour initier vos jeunes enfants à l’anglais.
Cela peut être tentant de dépenser de l’argent pour une après-midi en anglais, une fois par semaine pour vos jeunes enfants, mais en réalité, ce type de prestation n’est utile que si l’enfant est exposé à la langue plus d’une fois par semaine. C’est pareil pour tout le monde: on ne peut pas bien apprendre à jouer de la guitare si l’on pratique qu’une fois par semaine pendant deux heures; dans l’idéal, il faut en faire un peu tous les jours.
Alors, voyons comment vous pouvez faire, un peu tous les jours, en anglais avec votre petit(e).
Commençons par les livres.
12 mois à 2/3 ans
Si votre enfant est vraiment tout petit, (moins de deux ans) j’adore la série de livres de Julia Donaldson et Axel Scheffler: Postman Bear, Rabbit’s Nap, Fox’s Socks et Hide and Seek Pig. J’avais acheté Fox’s Socks complètement par hasard quand mon fils avait un an, et il l’a tellement adoré que je les ai tous pris. Vous pouvez les acheter en cartonné avec des petites fenêtres à ouvrir pour trouver les différents objets perdus.
Quand l’enfant est si jeune, le fait de ne pas “comprendre” ce que vous lui lisez ne le dérangera pas trop, il regardera les images, et petit à petit il commencera à comprendre et à vous poser des questions.
Je ne parle qu’en anglais avec mon fils depuis sa naissance, pour moi c’est normal puisque je suis anglophone, mais vous pouvez aussi initier votre petit choux à une langue étrangère pour qu’il se sente à l’aise.
2 à 5 ans
Voici une liste de livres simples, avec de super dessins:
Calm Down Boris! Par Sam Lloyd – celui là est cartonné et avec une marionnette. Il s’agit d’un petit monstre qui adore donner des bisous. Mon fils l’adore et on est toujours obligé de le lire plusieurs fois de suite.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus par Mo Willems – une histoire hilarante où le pigeon veut absolument conduire le bus, mais le conducteur a confié la responsabilité de ne pas le laisser faire, à votre enfant. En plus, il y a toute une série!
Avec la série du dessus, il y a, du même auteur, les histoires d’Elephant and Piggie, qui sont tout aussi drôles.
Pete the Cat par Eric Litwin et James Dean – ces livres sont super, je crois, pour initier les enfants à l’anglais car l’histoire est vraiment très facile, avec des petites chansons et des mots à répétition. En plus, il existe une série télévisée du même nom.
ABC and 123: A Sesame Street Treasury of Words and Numbers édité par Random House. De supers dessins, avec des mots à côté; mon petit adore parcourir ce bouquin tout seul ou avec moi. C’est vraiment bien pour l’alphabet, les chiffres et le vocabulaire.
Goodnight Moon par Margaret Wise Brown et Clement Hurd – je ne vais même pas essayer de compter le nombre de fois que nous avons lu celui-là! Pour résumer, on dit bonne nuit à tous les objets dans la chambre du petit lapin.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear de Eric Carle, ainsi que tous les autres livres de la série, y compris From Head to Toe et The Very Hungry Caterpillar. De très jolis dessins et des histoires très simples qui plaisent à tout le monde. J’ai récemment donné nos livres de cette série à la directrice de l’école maternelle de mon fils, car ils sont vraiment super pour commencer avec l’anglais.
Voilà la liste de mes livres préférés pour commencer l’anglais avec votre enfant. Pour les plus grands, il va falloir que je fasse davantage de recherches, car pour l’instant, mon petit n’a que 4 ans et nous découvrons ensemble le monde de la littérature de jeunesse. Mais promis, je ne manquerai pas de poster un billet pour eux aussi !
Quant aux séries télé, je vais vous faire un autre article dessus. Mais entre-temps, mettez ce que vous voulez, mais en anglais. Jusqu’à l’âge de 4 ans, on va dire, cela ne devrait pas déranger votre enfant de ne pas tout comprendre, et vous allez voir, dans quelques mois, si il regarde des séries uniquement en anglais, il commencera à vraiment comprendre et à parler.