I believe that knowing where you come from is extremely important for your confidence and self-esteem. For someone growing up in a multilingual family, being able to speak the family’s languages makes it easier to understand your background and becoming familiar with your cultural heritage.
The self-esteem that comes with being aware of your background and identity also positively impacts your behavior towards others. Someone who is confident and content about their own identity has less need to look down on or criticize others. Something that every society could do more with in today’s world.
Speaking your family’s languages means that you can create and maintain relationships to the extended family and – in the case you or your family have moved – to your family’s home country. If you can communicate in the local language, you can experience your visits “back home” on a completely different level. You can speak not only with the extended family, but with family friends and neighbors. You can go shopping and explore the area on your own, without the need of someone to be your interpreter.
If you are lucky to know your family’s languages, take a moment to appreciate the value of this skill and contemplate how important it has been to you. How different would your life have been if you hadn't known the languages you do? Which relationships would you not have had and what experiences would you have missed?
Make sure you take the necessary steps to give your children this gift of being able to communicate in your family’s languages. It will benefit her in so many ways: from it being easier for her to learn additional languages to having a more open-minded attitude to others. And don’t forget, they will be more confident about their own identity, making them more confident as people – a trait which is essential for us all.
And below is something interesting I found, supporting my theory about bilingual books with folklore tales.
Like all books that teachers choose, bilingual books should have characteristics that support reading
Checklist: Characteristics of Texts that Support Reading
1. Is the language of the text natural?
When there are only a few words on a page, do these limited-text books sound like real language, something people really say?
2. Are the materials authentic?
Authentic materials are written to inform or entertain, not to teach a grammar point, a letter-sound correspondence, or a series of related syllables.
3. Is the text predictable?
Text is more predictable when readers have background knowledge of the concepts.
For emergent readers:
Books are more predictable when they follow certain patterns (repetitive, cumulative) or include certain devices (rhyme, rhythm, alliteration).
For developing readers:
Books are more predictable when students are familiar with text structures; beginning, middle, end, problem-solution, main idea, details, examples, etc.
4. Are the materials interesting and/or imaginative?
Interesting, imaginative texts engage students.
5. Is there a good text-picture match?
A good match provides non linguistic visual cues. Is the placement of the pictures predictable?
6. Are the texts culturally relevant?
Do the situations and characters in the book represent the experiences and backgrounds of the students?
From: Freeman, D. & Y. Freeman. (2000). Teaching reading in multilingual classrooms Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.