Although there are many bilingual books/resources available for school-age and older children, I’ve not found much interesting for younger children. It is certainly possible to use monolingual resources in a bilingual manner, and that is what most parents do. However, I’ve long thought that true “bilingual” books for very young children would be a good way to represent for them their bilingual reality. As the world of “bilingual resources” expands, more parents are taking it upon themselves to create their own resources, many using the Internet and self-publishing resources.
One series that I have been introduced to recently is called “The Adventures of Enzo”. Written by a French author, Sonia Colasse, and translated into English by teachers, this set of 12 books follows are based on the author’s son. Each book features an animal from the zodiac, and the theme of Enzo’s lucky star. The stories relate common childhood situations, and end with a “moral”, often translated from a French expression. Because the stories are written originally in French and translated, the English retains some French “flavour” in terms of syntax and vocabulary, and those who have French/English bilingual (as I do) children will recognise the unique manner in which their children often use English. Colasse is presently having the books translated into other language pairs, to make these bilingual books available to a broader market of bilingual families.
I like these books very much, for a several reasons. Firstly, I like the way the languages represented are both related and separate. I can read them in French to my kids and my husband can read them in English, or we can read them together. The language in both parts is of a high level, and can be used to enrich one or the other language. Many bilingual resources I have seen for children demonstrate one language to a high level, and the other at a “learner” level, and these books escape that trap. Apparently they are being used as a language-learning resource for French learners in the US, but I would say that both languages are up to the standards of monolingual books also. In addition, the stories themselves are simple and interesting to children. All parents can relate to stories such as “Enzo gets bored” and “Enzo does something wrong”, and can hope that their children will relate and learn something from them too. And finally, the illustrations, by Sarah Bainton, are wonderful – simple, colourful and charming. At back of the book are colouring pages, so that children can try their hand at colouring Enzo’s adventures themselves.
Overall, these are the first French/English bilingual books that I like as much as my children do – and I look forward to them being available in other languages – can I request French/Dutch next?
For more information, you can visit the author’s website: solofinity.com