World Book Day got me thinking about the books we read to Biscuit and Cracker. I saw so many children dressed as such a variety of characters it got me thinking about the stories the twins have been exposed to.
I have never been one to want to read three or four little stories to Biscuit and Cracker, instead I have read long books to them a chapter at a time. Maybe it’s because that’s what my parents did with me?
I have read to the twins the Harry Potter series, Roald Dahl, Winnie the Pooh, The Faraway Tree, Peter Rabbit and friends, Paddington, Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales, and His Dark Materials Trilogy to name a few. I am currently going through my beloved Chronicles of Narnia. I enjoy reading these sort of books to them, it’s allowed me to revisit my childhood every evening.
Rob is similar and he has read, in Italian, the Harry Potter series (yes, we are a couple of potterheads), Roald Dahl (for the first time for him, what sort of childhood did he have in Italy?!?), and Arabian Nights. He is currently trawling through Lord of the Rings with them (I definitely think this is more for him than for them, my husband is a geek!).
They obviously have a wide collection of their own books and stories which they pick and choose during the day and we will sit down and read them. This ranges from Mr Tumble to Toy Story and everything in between. Stories like Guess How Much I Love You and The Gruffalo we have in both English and Italian so that as they get older they can choose which language they want to read in that day (plus it’s good for me to try and read them too).
I am so glad that the twins love books and stories because I am exactly the same. I have always been told that I “devour” books and Rob bought me a Kindle to save on luggage allowance whenever we go away, I used to take so many books with me to last a week/fortnight!
I have been thinking a lot about language recently. For a start, I am married to a full-blown Italian. He may be fluent in English (so much so that people often forget he is in fact, gasp, foreign) but his family aren’t.
Raising bilingual babies brings about challenges of it’s own. Plus, with Biscuit and Cracker having just turned two, I have their impending health review coming up with the inevitable questions regarding their speech and language development.
Speech and language development provides a fascinating insight into your little ones brain and the speed at which it grows and matures. Children go from being able to say 0 words at 6 months, to around 1-3 at 12 months, around 10-20 at 18 months, 50+ at 2 years, 200+ at 2 1/2 years (yep an increase of around 150 words in just 6 months), 500-1000 at 3 years, 1000-1500 at 4 years and 1500-2000 at 5 years. That is enormous growth, and absolutely amazing. I find myself open-mouthed at how the twins seem to have new words every single day. Biscuit came out with a four word sentence the other day, what a genius!!
On top of this, as I mentioned, Biscuit and Cracker are learning two languages at once. Rob only speaks to them in Italian and I only speak to them in English (probably a good thing as the words I know in Italian are not for little ears!). This includes our reading books- Rob is currently reading them the Harry Potter series in Italian and they have lots of kids books in Italian too.
An issue we did think of was that about 90% of the twins’ language influence is English. So we looked for kids DVDs in Italian (and found Bob The Builder and Everything’s Rosie) which they really enjoy watching. We also now get films in Italian, so they watch Frozen on a daily basis whilst learning another language (that also helps me too, it’s amazing what you pick up from Disney films and songs).
If you’re interested in getting your kids (or you) into a second language, watching familiar films and listening to music really does help. Rob says that’s how he started learning English- by watching Jurassic Park over and over again!
As they get older, we will probably have a look at them having some formal Italian teaching (to help with the grammar etc) but for now I stay amazed at how they soak up words and know more every day. They already put me to shame!!!