Representation matters in children’s literature. Children who see images of themselves in books, whether it’s kids with the same color skin, the same physical impairment, or the same language, representation prevents children from feeling “otherness.”
Public awareness about diversity in children’s literature is at an all-time high after a year of politically charged discussions about race and society.
As a mom raising multicultural, multilingual children, I applaud the attention being given to representation in literature! After learning some alarming statistics (75% of characters in children’s books are white!!!), I began writing about the need for more representation in children’s literature and why & how to include more diverse books in your home library.
And for the fourth year running we are sponsoring Multilingual Children’s Book Day, a charity that focuses on the importance of representation in kids’ books. We truly believe that representation in children’s literature allows children of all backgrounds, languages, and/or believes to dream big. Join us on the 29th of January for a Twitter Party full of multicultural and multilingual book ideas for kids.
When a child sees himself in the story—his skin tone, hair color, eye color, name—he sees what is possible. He can conceptualize the amazing possibilities. She can be the superhero, the one who saves the day!
A young girl who reads stories depicting the woman as a damsel in distress, always needing to be rescued by a prince, will possibly grow up with a sense of helplessness. How much more so if the only “rescued” princesses she encounters on storybook pages have snow-white skin and blue eyes, unlike her?
Make an effort to add diverse books to your home library, and your kiddos will be open to a much bigger world of possibility!
It does not stop here, when kids see diverse characters in books, they also become more empathetic, they understand that everyone has the right to be the “main character”.
Tips for Finding Multilingual Children’s Books
The good news is that pretty much anywhere you are in the world, you can access a wide variety of bilingual, multilingual, and diverse children’s books online.
Do a quick search for exactly what you’re looking for, and you might be surprised at how many options you have!
“French-English children’s books,” “Spanish-English children’s books,” German-English children’s books” will probably yield the most results, especially if you live in the United States or the UK. If you’re looking for a language pairing that is less common, you might have to do a little digging.
Try searching in each language. For example, I might search “Deutsche-portugiesische Kinderbücher” to see if that yields me any additional options.
Language Lizard is a fantastic resource. This online bookseller carries children’s bilingual books in over 50 languages. We have listed below some of our favorite multilingual booksellers, all small businesses that are run by amazing multilingual book lovers.
Ask your local librarian for help locating the types of books you’re looking for. Librarians can often order books from outside of the immediate location. You may even inspire them to purchase copies of bilingual books to add to your local library branch! What a fantastic service to offer your community.
Set up a local lending library or book exchange. If you live in a community with other bilingual families, consider setting up a local book exchange. You could even organize an exchange with people across the globe, sending one another books via snail mail. If shipping is too costly, consider recording a video of you reading the book aloud, and share it with your community.
There are tons of creative options for getting your hands on bilingual and multilingual children’s books!
How & When to Add Bilingual Children’s Books to Your Routine
There’s no better time than the present! Start reading in your target language one book in your target language at bedtime and make it a routine. If you don’t speak the particular language, find amazing read alouds in the original languages here.
Soon enough, your children will see these books as a part of their regular rotation. Every time we expose our kids to experiences and people who are different from ourselves, we’re opening them up to be kinder and more empathetic, which we all agree this world can use more of.
Get Even More Buy-In With Personalized Bilingual Books
Spark even more of an interest with personalized bilingual books. If you’re having trouble finding a particular language combination, check out our options. We can create a book in any of these 10 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese (Simplified or Traditional).
You select your child’s likeness: hair color, eye color, and skin tone, and enter their name. Voilà! Your child becomes the star of the story. Head here to select your titles: https://timtimtom.com/our-books/
Happy Bilingual Reading!
Here some Amazing Multilingual Book Sellers :
(please comment below with your favourite book sources, we will add it to the list)
Language Lizard children’s books in more than 50 languages and bilingual books available
Booklandia Spanish Book Subscription Box
Le Tobbogan various language book
Sol Book Box Spanish Subscription Box
My Story Treasury incredible list of Chinese Books