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Recommended Resources: Lovely Picture Book That Celebrates Being Bilingual

November 3, 2015

A Fish in Foreign Waters

As parents of bilingual kids, one of our most important aims is nurturing a positive attitude toward the minority language. When a child feels that this language has value, that it benefits his or her life, our efforts to promote its growth can be far more effective. The reverse, I’m afraid, is also true, and if the child doesn’t feel much value in learning or using this language, the road ahead will be more difficult and less productive.

It’s like swimming with the current, or against it. (A fitting metaphor for the book I’m sharing today! :mrgreen: )

I’ve written several posts which involve this idea of instilling a sense of value in the minority language. You may want to return to these links after reading through this post (and entering the giveaway!)…

Getting a Bilingual Child to Feel the Value of the Minority Language

A Powerful Way to Inspire a Positive Attitude in Your Bilingual Child

The Power of Using the Minority Language to Help Others

“Bilingual” in a different sense

Although I regularly receive requests to review bilingual picture books, I’m generally unable to do much more than offer loud shout-outs on my Facebook page or through Twitter (which I’m always happy to do). The reason is, bilingual picture books are typically written for an audience of two specific languages…and the readership of this blog is much broader than that. Naturally enough, my aim is to produce posts that will be of interest to as many parents as possible, whatever their languages or circumstances.

However, when Laura Caputo-Wickham contacted me about her new picture book, A Fish in Foreign Waters, I quickly saw that this book is different: it’s “bilingual” in a different sense.

Written in English, the book shares the simple story of a fish named Rosie Ray who moves with her family from one part of the ocean to another and faces a new culture and language.

Rosie Ray moves to Indigo Bay.

Despite some initial difficulties, which prompt worries about being different, in the end she comes to see the deeper value of having a second language.

Rosie Ray has a happy birthday party.

Ultimately, Rosie Ray realizes (and this is something I hope bilingual kids around the world will feel in their own little hearts):

“I guess I am different in a cool sort of way!”

Great resource to aid your efforts

A Fish in Foreign Waters is a lovely little book with an uplifting message that speaks directly to bilingual kids. Laura tells the tale in winning rhyme while Pamela Goodman brings the story to colorful life with her sweet illustrations. For families with bilingual children—particularly younger kids at the picture book stage—this is a must-have resource that can aid your efforts to nurture a positive attitude toward the minority language. (And if your child doesn’t understand English, just tell the story in the language that suits your family.)

Published in paperback by Long Bridge Publishing, see this page at their website for more information on the book and where you can order it online. You can also win a free copy, signed by Laura for your kids, by entering this special giveaway at Bilingual Monkeys!

Giveaway of A Fish in Foreign Waters


Lulu reached her hand into the fishbowl first and picked…

Raquel in the United States

And Roy found our second winner by selecting…

Isabel in Italy

Congratulations to you both! And a big thank you to everyone who entered. Laura and I wish all of you much success on your bilingual journey! :mrgreen:

To enter the giveaway, just follow these three simple steps…

1. Share this post with others via social media. Help spread the word on this unique picture book for bilingual kids. Use the sharing buttons below or simply copy and paste this link…

2. Leave a comment below with the following information. (And please proofread your comment, before submission, to check that the information is complete.)

1. Your first name and where you live (Example: Adam in Japan)

2. Your children and their ages (Example: Girl, 11 and Boy, 8)

3. Your two (or more) languages (Example: Japanese, English, and Spanish)

4. Name one thing you do to promote a positive attitude toward your minority language(s). (Example: I seek out opportunities for my kids to experience that their minority language is not only useful to themselves, but can be helpful to others, too.)

3. All entries must be submitted by the morning of Saturday, November 21 (Japan time). On that day, the comments will be printed out and cut apart to serve as entry slips for the drawing. The slips will be placed in a big, empty fishbowl and my daughter and son will each select one winner at random. I’ll then contact the lucky winners by email and update this post with the results.

I may not respond to these comments, but Laura and I look forward to seeing them. Thank you for entering the giveaway, and for sharing this information about Laura’s book with others!

1 Raquel November 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm

1. Raquel in Florida, USA
2. Boy, almost 3
3. Spanish, English, Italian
4. We try to make language fun and exciting and do not force perfect grammar from the get go. We say silly things in many languages and play with words.


2 Mayken November 3, 2015 at 8:36 pm

1. Mayken in France
2. Girl, 5
3. French, German, and English
4. When we are in the minority language country, I try to give my daughter many different interesting experiences: meeting ml kids her age, making new discoveries, visiting museums and other cool places, doing things we don’t or can’t do at home in the ML country.


3 Aneta November 4, 2015 at 1:32 am

1. Aneta in the UK
2. two girls, 6 and 2
3. Polish, English, German
4. we read every night and we translate words into all 3 languages, we make little poems and draw pictures to them so we can make ‘home made books’ 😉


4 Giorgia November 4, 2015 at 6:27 am

1. Giorgia from Italy
2. Triplets: two girls and a boy of 7
3. Italian, English, French
4. We play as much as possible in our minority language (English) and try to make it part of our daily life. This is another opportunity to have quality time with my kids and to learn/teach from each other.


5 Lara November 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

1. Lara in France
2. Boy, just turned 1
3. English and French
4. We sing, read, play, make up stories, and Skype with our family in California. My son just started saying “up” and it’s so sweet to hear his little voice.


6 Elodie November 5, 2015 at 4:15 am

1. Elodie in Germany
2. Boy, 2,5
3. German, French and English
4. We read a lot, a lot, a lot. And we’re going to a French-speaking playgroup, as well as organizing English-speaking playdates.

Thanks for the giveaway!


7 Lyndsay November 8, 2015 at 5:11 pm

1. Lyndsay in Spain
2. Boy, 2
3. English and Spanish
4. We meet with an English speaking playgroup every month for our son to make friends with other bilingual kids.


8 Angela November 8, 2015 at 5:46 pm

1. Angela, living in Italy
2. Two girls, 9 and 7 years old
3. Romanian, Albanian, Italian
4. We read, at times we write, we make up rhymes, poems and stories; when we get the chance to do homework or study together, we introduce the subjects in our mother- (or father-) tongue. Trilingualism gets tougher with school, but challenges and satisfactions are also bigger!


9 Annie November 8, 2015 at 10:12 pm

1. Annie in Colombia
2. Girl, now 13!
3. English, Spanish
4. We have a reading challenge, 15 Books for 2015; we play games to use and combine languages (Bananagrams); we try to help others (cousins) who are learning English.


10 Ilana November 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm

1. Ilana in USA
2. Boy 2.5
3. English and Hebrew
4. We listen to a lot of songs and read many stories in the minority language. We have magnetic letters on the refrigerator door that we love to spell out different words with.


11 Eugenie November 9, 2015 at 2:52 am

1. Eugenie in Israel
2. Girl, not yet born. Due god-willing in January.
3. English, Hebrew
4. We plan to read a lot in English and only speak English in the home. I’m now looking into what I can do from the beginning to make sure that our daughter doesn’t abandon English like some of our friends’ kids have done. My own mother moved to America from Israel and my father from Russia and even though there was a possibility for three languages I had a very hard time learning Russian or Hebrew from them.


12 Kerstin November 9, 2015 at 5:00 am

1. Kerstin from Wales
2. Girl, 2 years
3. German and English
4. At the moment it’s about meeting other German speakers so she realises I’m not the only one speaking German.


13 Raffaela November 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm

1. Raffaela in Italy
2. Girl, 12 yo
3. Italian, English, and French
4. I try to keep the minority language as a game and especially linked to her passion which is science and space!


14 Boukje November 9, 2015 at 10:09 pm

1. Boukje in Japan
2. Girl, 4 and boy, 2
3. Dutch, Japanese and English
4. I make an effort to celebrate Dutch holidays. At the moment the kids are already starting to get excited about ‘Sinterklaas’, which is celebrated in December.


15 Dominika November 10, 2015 at 6:28 am

1) Dominika in England
2) Girl – 4.5 years old
3) Polish and English
4) I’m trying to provide plenty of opportunities for my daughter to play with Polish speaking children, help her build a stronger relationship with grandfolks in Poland by talking to them via Skype and holiday visits as well as trying to match her experiences in the majority language with those in the minority language (e.g. a trip to the theatre or a hair cut needs to be experienced in both countries).


16 Helen Banos Smith November 12, 2015 at 6:44 am

1. Helen in UK
2. Two boys, 1.5 and 3.5 yrs
3. Espanol and English
4. I always talk in the minority language when we are talking about their favourite things and encourage them to talk about them in that language too.


17 Isabel Perez November 12, 2015 at 7:56 am

1. Isabel in Italy
2. Girl, 4
3. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English
4. We just stick to our own languages ALL the time when talking to our daughter (with the exception of some books or songs) and we do skype a lot with grandparents…for now it works great! English is for school only and Italian…is all around! :)


18 Gabriela November 12, 2015 at 2:28 pm

1. Your first name and where you live :
Gabriela, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

2. Your children and their ages:
Gustavo, 17 months old

3. Your two (or more) languages :
English (L2) and Spanish (L1)

4. Name one thing you do to promote a positive attitude toward your minority language(s):
We write letters regularly with our friends in Holland and the United States, and those letter are always in English (our L2).


19 Anna K. November 13, 2015 at 6:48 am

1. Anna in the U.S.A., moving to Colombia summer 2016
2. girl, 3 & girl, 22m
3. English & Spanish (possibility for Korean school someday)
4. I try to make learning new words in Spanish fun for my girls – we sing songs, read books, and act things out when we are learning!


20 Mei November 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

1. Mei in Japan
2. Boy, 1+ (turning 2 next month!)
3. English and Japanese
4. We read at least one book each day and he listens to only English songs in the bedroom and living/dining room.


21 Tatiana November 15, 2015 at 8:07 am

1. Tatiana in the USA
2. Boy, 2 1/4
3. English (outside world), French (mom), Spanish (dad)
4. Singing songs! Even his monolingual friends love learning our many fun songs. :-)


22 Kyubum Kim November 16, 2015 at 11:57 am

1. Kyu in USA
2. Girls 2 & 3
3. English, Spanish, Korean
4. Grew up with English at school, Spanish in the street, and Korean at home. Would love for my girls to be able to be comfortable with Spanish so that they can travel and navigate on their own someday.


23 Luzy November 17, 2015 at 3:08 am

1. Luzy in West Virginia, U.S.A.
2. Girl, 11 months
3. Spanish and English
4. I talk to my daughter only in Spanish at home and she learns English at day care. It is very important to me that she knows her culture and traditions.


24 Salma Reyes November 17, 2015 at 5:21 am

1. Salma in Texas (USA)
2. Girl, 7 months
3. English/Spanish
4. I communicate words with physical actions to her. For instance, when I’m going to pick her up I spread my arms and say “vente,” or when I put her in her car seat I say “vamonos.” I also expose her to lots and lots of Spanish music; she loves it!


25 Rachel Roberts November 17, 2015 at 8:49 am

1. Rachel in the Dominican Republic
2. Kindergarten classroom, bilingual school, ages 5-6
3. English, Spanish, Haitian Creole
4. We encourage students of different languages to support the language development of their peers. English is our minority language (my classroom has 3 native English speakers), but our students receive instruction and hear stories in both English and Spanish, so our English speakers often have the opportunity to help teach and support their peers.


26 Jennifer Oliger November 17, 2015 at 10:15 am

1) Jennifer in California, United States
2) I am a teacher, and my students are ages 8-10
3) My students learn in English and Spanish
4) To promote a positive attitude about my students’ languages, I have books in both languages in my classroom library. I alternate the languages of the texts we read for shared reading and read alouds. I also also alternate the language of the writing piece so students create a piece in both languages for each type of writing we study.


27 Fish November 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm

1. Fish in Japan

2. Oliver, 2

3. English, Japanese

4. I very frequently praise my son (in English) when he uses our minority language (English) to speak to me.


28 Chiara November 18, 2015 at 11:16 pm

1. Chiara in Italy
2. Boy, 2 years old
3. Italian (native) and English (minority)
4. We attend an English playgroup, we sing songs, we have many English books at home and usually read them at bedtime, we’re also trying to establish a pattern for “English only” moments (i.e. in the car…); we skype with our (English speaking) relatives in South Africa who came here after a long time last summer. We seized the moment to get back in touch with them since then!


29 Valentina November 18, 2015 at 11:39 pm

1. Valentina in London UK
2. Girl, 4
3. Italian, English
4. I always speak in Italian to her, we sing songs and we have a few books.


30 Virginie November 20, 2015 at 6:21 am

Virginie in France
Girl, 14 months
English, French

I would like my daughter to be multilingual so she is culturally sensitive and feels at ease in any society in the world as I find it makes an extremely rich life. I only speak English to her and increase her English input as much as possible via other resources like speaking toys for example. And commenting everything I do in the minority language when she is around.


31 Carla November 20, 2015 at 7:52 pm

1. Carla in Portugal
2. Boy, 5
3. Portuguese, English, French
4. I try to show my child that because he knows another language, he can help his friends or others to use it as well. That will make him feel happy about it and will make his friends happy too.


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