The ABCs of Multilingual Parenting: The Letter R

by Corey · 2 comments

R is for… Read, Read, Read!

We are hitting the letter R just in time for our series of posts on biliteracy! How perfect!

When it comes to multilingual parenting, the key is to incorporate reading every way you can. Here are some examples that can make all the difference in your multilingual household:

  • Make sure your children see you reading often.
  • Read books, magazines, newspapers and more out loud to your children.
  • Have your children read as much as possible out loud to you.
  • Play children’s audio books while driving in the car with your children.
  • Spend family evenings reading books out loud rather than watching TV.

Reading together is about more than just learning vocabulary and grammar. It is about getting familiar with the nuances of language, coming face to face with a variety of cultures, mastering reading and listening comprehension, and learning to love books and writing. It is about letting ourselves get lost in a story and having the opportunity to experience life through the eyes of another. We can become a traveler along the Oregon Trail in the 1860’s. We can help build the pyramids in ancient Egypt.

Before a child learns to read, she sees people around her reading. This is why it is so important to make sure that we read around our children as much as possible (and not just in the corner on our iPhones!). Your child will want to read when he sees how empowering reading can be. Knowing how to decipher the symbols around us is nothing short of magic. It is nothing short of an amazing gift!

Our series of biliteracy posts will help you get started with teaching your children how to read and write in their languages. However, in the meantime, just get reading out loud as often as possible! Don’t worry about whether your child can or can not read right now. Don’t concern yourself with your child’s reading level right now. Just jump right in, find a set of fantastic books in your language and start reading, reading, reading out loud to your multilingual children each and every day!

If your children simply don’t understand most of the words in what you are reading, then choose something easier. However, if your children are asking you questions about the story so that they can understand it better, then be ecstatic, not frustrated! Each time they ask a question about what you are reading, the better their reading comprehension becomes. Soon you will find books for your children that are both at their level of comprehension and captivating to them.

The greatest joy is when you find that you are enjoying reading out loud as much as your children are in listening to you!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Antonia June 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

I agree entirely. Just wish it was easy to get hold of reasonably priced material in our target language…


2 Corey June 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I know what you mean, Antonia! Which language(s) are you looking for? You might ask people on the Multilingual Living Forum ( and see if they have tips and suggestions that you haven’t yet come across?

Good luck!!


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