One of the points I bring up in all my seminars is that parents who are raising bilingual children need to learn the theory behind the process. The reasons for this are varied, but overall, I believe that parents have a better chance creating a smooth road to bilingualism if they understand the factors that influence successful bilingualism.
On that note, I am going to recommend some of my favourite books. My personal bilingualism library runs to over 50 titles. Parents don’t need all of those, of course, but they do need more than one. Which books they need depend to some extent on the bilingual model they are using.
However, there is one book that I think is an essential in any parent’s library. Colin Baker’s “A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism” is that rare book that is both heavily theoretical and completely accessible. It is written in an easy to use question-answer format, and you just look up your question in the index, and then go to the 1-2 page answer. Baker covers just about all the topics you might have questions about, from family language use to literacy to language refusal. None of the answers are very in-depth, but they are all a good start. Baker is one of the most prominent researchers in the field, and every answer in the book is based on the best research available. In addition, there are plenty of references for further research/reading for people who are interested in learning more. Another strong point is that the readability and concise nature of the sections mean it is also accessible to speakers of other languages than English.
So if you only get one book, this is the book to get.
Happily for me, next week I am going to Wales, to the Bilingualism Summer School at the University of Bangor, which is the home institute of Colin Baker. If I’m really lucky, maybe I can get him to sign my copy…