Reading bilingual books to preschoolers has many benefits. Raising multilingual children as a parent not familiar with a second language is quite difficult. Not to mention if you’re not fluent in both languages, it becomes more difficult. In either case, starting early will benefit you and the child greatly. By creating an environment of speaking a different language at home while they learn English at school, your child will naturally learn both languages. For this reason, I made a list of children’s bilingual books for preschoolers to help you get started.
Benefits of reading bilingual books aloud to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers
- Helps young chidren with learning new vocabulary by expanding their vocabulary through books
- Exposes children to new and different cultural backgrounds
- Helps connect with family culture and traditions for 2nd and 3rd generation learners
- Encourages learning new language at home for both the parent and child
- Helps develop cognitive thinking skills and enhances memory
Will my child learn English if I speak another language?
Worrying if your child will speak English is a common fear bilingual parents and immigrant parents have. But, I have great news! Your child is 100% capable of learning both English and other languages. Assuming you’re in an English-speaking country, once your child starts going to school, they will easily pick up English.
If you are fluent in another language, your child is already at a significant advantage. Only speak to your child in another language and they will be fluent in no time. If you’re not convinced, use my experience as one case study.
I immigrated to the U.S. when I was 6 years old. English was my second language and I primarily spoke Mandarin. My mom was afraid I wouldn’t pick up English and struggle in school. As a result, she only spoke in English with me. I only had to take ESL for one year and I was fluent in English. As an adult now, I always joke that my Mandarin proficiency is that of a 6-year-old since that’s the last time I was fully immersed in the language.
Here’s another example. I lived near my oldest son’s paternal grandparents for the first five years of his life. His grandpa only spoke to him in Mandarin since he was born and still do so till this day. He’s now way more fluent than I am in Mandarin.
Bilingual Books for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Let’s Clean Up / Korean-English
By Cadamini Books
Let’s Clean Up has text in Korean, English, and Romanized Korean, making it easy to read. With bright imagery, hand-drawn illustrations, and simple dialogue, it’s enjoyable for both parents and little learners to enjoy together.
Author and Illustrator, Katie, created this book because she wanted to expose her child to the Korean language. She couldn’t find a book for a non-Korean speaking parent to read, so she created her own!
To purchase the book and free Korean learning printables, visit Tiger Boom Creative.
The Hangul Story / Korean-English
Written and Illustrated by Miss Anna
The Hangul Story series is an educational fiction that focuses on teaching the sounds of the Korean consonant and vowels sounds. In fact, the line art inside is simple yet beautiful.
Celebrating Chinese New Year / Chinese-English
By Lacey Benard and Lulu Cheng
Chinese New Year is commonly celebrated around the world every year. In this book, you will find engaging pictures for little learners. It’s also in romanization for non-native learners.
Find the book at BittyBao.
Hajimete Zukan 415 Picture Book / Japanese-English
By Shogakukan Inc.
All in all, the 415 photos in this bilingual book introduce all sorts of fascinating things from animals to vehicles. With text in English and Japanese, this book is a great way for kids to learn vocabulary in both languages.
Little learners can also hear the English and Japanese pronunciations of every word via smartphone.
Do you have bilingual books for preschoolers you’d like to share with our community? Let me know in the comments below or send me a message!
How about changing up your bedtime story with Japanese folktales? ‘Folk Tales From Japan: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales for Children‘ by Florence Sakade and illustrated by Yoshio Hayashi is a great book to start diving into eastern stories. All the stories are easy to understand for preschoolers and young kids.
Folktakes From Japan: Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales for Children
By Florence Sakade, Illustrated by Toshio Hayashi
16 Japanese stories for kids! It includes “The Princess and the Herdboy” explaining the origins of the Tanabata Festival and “Urashima Taro” one of the most popular folktales in Japan.
By Chieri Uegaki and Stephane Jorisch
Suki’s Kimono is a great story for teaching how to respect others’ differences and introducing their culture to classmates. The book is about Suki who shares her story in class, what she did during her break, and shares about the festival she took part in.
The story also shows the mean treatment she received from students and how Suki handled the situation. Since many students will be going back to school, it’s never too early to start teaching children how to share their culture and appreciate others.
You can find more activities for this book by clicking here.
Issun Boshi: The One-Inch Boy
This classic Japanese fairy tale tells the story of Issun Boshi, the tiny son of an old, long childless couple. His mother had longed to have a child for so many years that she finally added “even if it is a very small one” to her wish. When the elderly couple did in fact bear a son, he turned out to be only one inch high. He was thus called Issun Boshi, Japanese for one-inch boy. Although his parents raised him very lovingly, Issun Boshi realized one day that he would not grow any taller. He then left his home to set off on a journey to find his place in the world.
Once Upon a Time in Japan
Translated by Roger Pulvers and Juliet Carpenter
The tales in this collection are brilliantly illustrated by a different talented Japanese artist in each story. These retold stories have been shared countless times in Japanese homes and schools for generations. Like good stories from every time and place, they never grow old. Kids (and their parents!) will enjoy hearing these stories read aloud on the accompanying CD.
Yuki In The Snow
By Y.K. Maple, Illustrated by Lilla Vincze
Yuki is a little girl who moved to Japan from Hawaii. This is the story of her first experience with snow and the significance of her name. The book illustrates Japanese culture to the children in the world and introduce Japanese children to English-speaking cultures.
Read stories online at Kids Web Japan
Also, if buying a new book isn’t in your budget right now, check out this website that has a collection of Japanese folktales. You can read these from your smartphone or tablet, pick one from the list, and then click “next” to begin. There’s a collection of 19 stories here for FREE. I highly recommend reading “Kaguya Hime” and “Tanabata”.
They’re many more Japanese stories for kids but that’s all for today!