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September 24, 2018

3 Easy Ways to Use Bilingual Books in Every Classroom

By Juan Gonzalez
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Being a public educator in Texas, I get to work with students who have wonderfully diverse backgrounds. Many of these students also come from bilingual homes. In my area, they are predominately Spanish-speaking. This diversity has led me to start bringing more bilingual books into my classroom.

    Since working with bilingual titles, I’ve discovered that this literature not only supports students in their dominant language, it can also be used to grow and enhance the reading experience of all readers. Below are three easy ways to use bilingual books in your classroom.

    1. Practice Context Clues

    There are many fantastic books that are written in both Spanish and English! They’re perfect for readers to practice using context clues to determine the meaning of a foreign word.

    After reading the selected text, the students responded using the following sentence stem,

    I think _________ means _________ because...

    In my classroom, I have students work in groups and discuss the Spanish words on the page from a selected text. They look for the words that the author uses to help figure out the meaning of the Spanish words. In my experience, using a bilingual book to introduce context clues has helped transfer the strategy into their regular reading.

    2. Create a Special Read Aloud

    Add more excitement to your read-aloud time by inviting a special reader to share a book in a different language. You can find a guest reader by reaching out to parents, colleagues, or friends that are fluent in a second language. During the read aloud, you can stop and have the students discuss the sounds of the language, or just let them take in the experience.

    Can I Be Your Dog? was one of the first books I shared with readers this school year. We adore this story of a dog trying to find an owner! When I found the Spanish version on Scholastic Book Clubs I knew this was one we had to have in our library. Next week, one of our cafeteria chefs is coming to our classroom to share the Spanish version with the class. To build excitement, I made this graphic to display in my classroom and shared it with families via our communication app.

    3. Exploration of Culture and Language

    One of the simplest ways to use bilingual books in the classroom is by pairing up English and non-English versions of a book and having the students explore the words. In the picture below, two students are analyzing Spanish and English text in another Scholastic Book Clubs title, The Dead Family Diaz. For English speakers, this process helps familiarize them with another language. They can try to read the Spanish words and find commonalities in those words that are similar to English. The goal isn’t for them to read and learn the language, it’s simply to explore. Plus, there is novelty attached to seeing a story they know in another language that easily engages the reader.

    For those students dominant in the Spanish language, they can experience the story in English with their class, and then be given the Spanish version to read at home with their families. This really helps with expressing the importance of reading outside of school, and showing respect to their culture helps strengthen bonds between myself and the parents.

    Book Recommendations

    If you’re wondering, “Where in the world can I find Spanish books?” the answer is right here on Scholastic.com! You can find many Spanish and bilingual books available through the Teacher Store Online and Scholastic Book Clubs. The next time you're using Scholastic Book Clubs to place book orders for your students (and earning free books and resources for your classroom!), I invite you to check out Club Leo Spanish edition. This catalog features some of our favorite titles in Spanish, as well as books that are written in both English and Spanish.

    Plus, check out these four fantastic books to get your bilingual library started!

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a clever retelling of a Cuban folktale about love, family, and café cubano. It's also an excellent book to incorporate into a genre study on folktales.
     

    Students can explore a variety of songs from Hispanic traditions in La Piñata by Latin Grammy nominee Rita Rosa Ruega. Every song includes a brief description of its origins, and recordings of the songs are available to play for your class.

    Tito Puente: Mambo King/Rey del Mambo is a bilingual picture book about the iconic American musician and composer. Young music fans in your classroom are sure to enjoy reading the story of his childhood.

    Pastel para Enemigos (Enemy Pie), a book about a little boy who learns an effective recipe for turning a worst enemy into a best friend, is charming story to use for read-aloud discussions about friendship and kindness, and it's available in English and Spanish

    Being a public educator in Texas, I get to work with students who have wonderfully diverse backgrounds. Many of these students also come from bilingual homes. In my area, they are predominately Spanish-speaking. This diversity has led me to start bringing more bilingual books into my classroom.

    Since working with bilingual titles, I’ve discovered that this literature not only supports students in their dominant language, it can also be used to grow and enhance the reading experience of all readers. Below are three easy ways to use bilingual books in your classroom.

    1. Practice Context Clues

    There are many fantastic books that are written in both Spanish and English! They’re perfect for readers to practice using context clues to determine the meaning of a foreign word.

    After reading the selected text, the students responded using the following sentence stem,

    I think _________ means _________ because...

    In my classroom, I have students work in groups and discuss the Spanish words on the page from a selected text. They look for the words that the author uses to help figure out the meaning of the Spanish words. In my experience, using a bilingual book to introduce context clues has helped transfer the strategy into their regular reading.

    2. Create a Special Read Aloud

    Add more excitement to your read-aloud time by inviting a special reader to share a book in a different language. You can find a guest reader by reaching out to parents, colleagues, or friends that are fluent in a second language. During the read aloud, you can stop and have the students discuss the sounds of the language, or just let them take in the experience.

    Can I Be Your Dog? was one of the first books I shared with readers this school year. We adore this story of a dog trying to find an owner! When I found the Spanish version on Scholastic Book Clubs I knew this was one we had to have in our library. Next week, one of our cafeteria chefs is coming to our classroom to share the Spanish version with the class. To build excitement, I made this graphic to display in my classroom and shared it with families via our communication app.

    3. Exploration of Culture and Language

    One of the simplest ways to use bilingual books in the classroom is by pairing up English and non-English versions of a book and having the students explore the words. In the picture below, two students are analyzing Spanish and English text in another Scholastic Book Clubs title, The Dead Family Diaz. For English speakers, this process helps familiarize them with another language. They can try to read the Spanish words and find commonalities in those words that are similar to English. The goal isn’t for them to read and learn the language, it’s simply to explore. Plus, there is novelty attached to seeing a story they know in another language that easily engages the reader.

    For those students dominant in the Spanish language, they can experience the story in English with their class, and then be given the Spanish version to read at home with their families. This really helps with expressing the importance of reading outside of school, and showing respect to their culture helps strengthen bonds between myself and the parents.

    Book Recommendations

    If you’re wondering, “Where in the world can I find Spanish books?” the answer is right here on Scholastic.com! You can find many Spanish and bilingual books available through the Teacher Store Online and Scholastic Book Clubs. The next time you're using Scholastic Book Clubs to place book orders for your students (and earning free books and resources for your classroom!), I invite you to check out Club Leo Spanish edition. This catalog features some of our favorite titles in Spanish, as well as books that are written in both English and Spanish.

    Plus, check out these four fantastic books to get your bilingual library started!

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a clever retelling of a Cuban folktale about love, family, and café cubano. It's also an excellent book to incorporate into a genre study on folktales.
     

    Students can explore a variety of songs from Hispanic traditions in La Piñata by Latin Grammy nominee Rita Rosa Ruega. Every song includes a brief description of its origins, and recordings of the songs are available to play for your class.

    Tito Puente: Mambo King/Rey del Mambo is a bilingual picture book about the iconic American musician and composer. Young music fans in your classroom are sure to enjoy reading the story of his childhood.

    Pastel para Enemigos (Enemy Pie), a book about a little boy who learns an effective recipe for turning a worst enemy into a best friend, is charming story to use for read-aloud discussions about friendship and kindness, and it's available in English and Spanish

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