You can not open a book without learning something.
If you are looking for resources to help on your journey to bilingualism with your children it may sometimes feel overwhelming. A simple search will turn up dozens, if not hundreds of books, some obviously aimed at parents, other at academics. To help you wade through the choices, here are my top 5 bilingualism books for parents:
1. Always at number one, A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism. This is a fantastic book, both practical and full of great theory, all in a Q&A format which makes it easy to use. No need to read it from cover-to-cover, just dip in as you have a question and read a couple of pages. This is also the best “sharing” book; the short sections mean that you can copy a couple of pages and pass them on to a teacher, family member, pediatrician… anyone who is giving you poor advice or questioning your choice for bilingualism. Really, a must-have for any bilingual family.
2. An Introduction to Bilingual Development is actually a basic textbook on bilingual language acquisition. But it is well-written and short, and gives a great overview of “bilingualism from birth”. Good resource for parents raising bilingual babies who want to know more about the technical details.
3. Bilingual Siblings is a book that does what it says it will, and more. It’s the first book that really delves into the role that sibling language choice plays in successful bilingualism, and into other issues such as place in family, twins, adoption, to name a few. This is not the first thing you should read about raising bilingual children, but it a good book to deepen your knowledge and explore more complex situations and issues.
4. Growing up with Three Languages is another book that is for more advanced knowledge about multilingualism. You need to go into this book knowing the basics already, and what this book will give you is a well-rounded view of how three (or more) languages are different than two – parents often believe that kids can handle any number of languages and be as easily fluent in three or more, and this is simply not true. Three or more languages is possible, with an understanding that you need to be realistic about expectations and that careful planning is important.
5. Language Strategies for Trilingual Families is a book I like for its format. It clearly divides families into different situations, so you can see yourself reflected, for example, in “Monolingual Parents living abroad” or “One or both parents are trilingual”. This often helps families envision what a successful plan would look like for their family, when they don’t see their complex situations reflected in some of the books that focus more on “bilingualism” than multiple languages.