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There Are More Resources in Your Minority Language Than You Think

April 4, 2014

Manga Library

The “Manga Library” in Hiroshima

I’ve lived in Hiroshima for 17 years so it’s natural that I’ve been to practically all the points of interest in the city. However, until just the other day, there was one notable place I hadn’t been to: the Manga Library. (“Manga” is the Japanese word for “comic book,” and the Japanese people are passionate about manga, for all ages.)

It’s a bit strange, actually, that I had never been there, considering that it’s located right near the Museum of Contemporary Art, which I’ve visited dozens of times. But not feeling a real need to enter the Manga Library, I always passed it by.

Recently, though, because of this year’s resolution to get my kids reading regularly in English (our minority language) by maintaining a fresh flow of comic books into our home, I thought of the Manga Library: Would they have a few comics in English, too?

Borrowing books

The truth is, despite the fact that I’ve been placing frequent orders for comic books, my children are consuming them so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. This is great for their language ability, of course—all this reading has clearly had a positive impact on their reading skill—but I’m afraid trying to maintain this pace will put us in the poorhouse. :mrgreen:

So I was eager to see if I could supplement my orders by borrowing books, too.

Weekly visits

Let me back up here and tell you that, until just a few months ago, I had been making weekly visits to the Children’s Library in town to check out picture books in both English and Japanese. (I read to my kids in English, my wife reads to them in Japanese.)

However, after years of these weekly visits, I’ve basically exhausted the modest section of picture books in English. Moreover, now that my kids are a bit older (at the moment, 9 and 7), our emphasis has shifted from picture books to chapter books and other literature—and these aren’t held at the Children’s Library.

And so, lately, I’ve left the borrowing to my wife, who brings home only Japanese titles.

Comic books in English

With the most recent batch of books nearly due, I told her that I would return them at the Manga Library—and finally see what resources they had. (Since the Manga Library is part of Hiroshima’s public library system, books checked out from one library can be returned to any library.)

And I’m happy to report that the Manga Library has some comic books in English! Not a lot, mind you—just dozens compared to the thousands of books in Japanese—but I felt like I had struck gold or something.

So we checked out a mix of comic books in English and in Japanese, and my kids have been reading them daily over the past week.

Finding more resources

The takeaway today? I think it’s this…

There are always more resources in your target language than you think. You just have to make the extra effort to find them.

I realize, of course, that having a less-common minority language makes things more challenging, but this principle still applies to all. If you’re willing to seek them out, more resources can always be found. (Let’s include speakers of your target language, too, in our definition of “resources.” More of them may be lurking nearby than you imagine.)

As I stress in Why Resources in the Minority Language Are So Vital to Bilingual Success (With 6 Real-Life Examples From My Own Family)

The more resources you have in the minority language, the more suitable those resources are for the child’s age, language level, and interests, and the more actively you use those resources in the home, the more progress will be made.

For more on comic books, including why they’re such a valuable resource for parents raising bilingual children, see…

How Comic Books Can Give Your Kids Bilingual Super Powers

Recommended Resources: Captivating Comic Books for English Learners

How about you? Do you lack resources in your target language? With a bit of extra effort, could you bring more resources into your home?

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