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Listening

See? I got bitten by a lion!

The Time I Got Bitten by a Lion

You don’t believe me, do you? That’s okay, no one does—until they see the proof. Oh yes, I have proof and I’ll show it to you in a moment. The reason I’m now raising this story about the time I got bitten by a lion is because my kids have been clamoring to hear it over and over lately. There isn’t much to tell, really—the lion was sitting there calmly one moment and then sinking its teeth into my flesh

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Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman

Recommended Resources: The Splendid Poetry of Mary Ann Hoberman

I’m not as familiar as I’d like to be with children’s poets and poetry (hey, that rhymes!), but one of my favorites to date is Mary Ann Hoberman, a former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate and the author of over 40 books. We have a number of her titles and I’ve turned to them regularly, and with great success, as a source of fun, lyrical material for my kids and students. Hoberman is remarkably deft with verse and her work is

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Raffi's Christmas Album

Recommended Resources: Great Christmas Music

Is it December already? Over the years I’ve collected quite a bit of Christmas music—both English songs and instrumental albums—and I thought today would be a fitting time to share some of our favorites. As I discuss in How the Power of Music Nurtures Bilingual Ability, playing background music can have a very positive impact on a child’s language development, and Christmas is an ideal chance to keep CDs spinning in your home. Of course, there are hundreds of choices

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Sandra Boynton

Recommended Resources: The Quirky Work of Sandra Boynton

You may not know her name, but I bet you’ve seen her wide-eyed cartoon animals on popular greeting cards and children’s books. In fact, Sandra Boynton has apparently created more than 4,000 greeting cards, which have sold over 200 million copies, as well as more than 40 books that have sold over 30 million copies. In addition to her work as a humorist and children’s author-illustrator, Boynton is a songwriter who has produced four albums of distinctive, offbeat music. If

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Ziggy Marley: Family Time

Recommended Resources: Great Music for Kids (and Parents, too!)

Just days after I posted How the Power of Music Nurtures Bilingual Ability—in which I proposed that regularly playing background music can have a beneficial impact on a child’s language development —I experienced clear proof of this with my own kids. They were in our “play room,” the space with their toys and games—and our CD player—when I slipped past them to play another CD. This time I chose a Broadway musical called “Pippin,” which they had heard several times

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Mr. Troll

Recommended Resources: Great Cooperative Games

If your kids are anything like mine, they’re always eager to play games. And while playing those games, they seem just as eager to get into crying, screaming, punching, kicking, hair-pulling fights over winning. (Fortunately, the biting has been tapering off. ) Still, along with books and music, games should be a third essential resource that you diligently collect for your home. Suitable games that parents can play with kids, and kids can play with one another, are a fun

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The Power of Music

How the Power of Music Nurtures Bilingual Ability

I grew up in a musical family. My mother is a piano teacher and a church organist; my father is a banjo-playing folk singer; and my brother is a successful composer. I didn’t pursue music as seriously—I was known mostly for honking on an oboe—but music has been an important influence in my life and I’ve wanted my own children to be touched by the power of music, too. And when it comes to nurturing the bilingual ability of my

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Using Made-Up Memories to Engage Bilingual Kids

In Strange-But-True Tales: Baby Chicks in the Bathtub, I talk about how sharing memories from your childhood can be a great way of engaging with your children in the minority language, particularly at mealtimes. Kids love to hear about their parents’ (mis)adventures when they were kids themselves, making such stories arguably the most captivating “listening material” available to us. But what do you do when the conversation dries up at the dinner table, and your aging brain is unable to

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Baby Chick

Strange-But-True Tales: Baby Chicks in the Bathtub

America has changed a lot since I was a child, and one way is the fact that, at Easter time, a small shop not far from my childhood home once sold baby chicks and ducklings. This wasn’t a pet shop, mind you; it was simply a variety store that sold toys and toiletries and household items…and baby chicks and ducklings at Easter time. So one sunny spring day, when I was about 8 years old, I pushed my life savings

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The Magic Treehouse

How to Get Your Child Hooked on Books

No matter your minority language, one investment you definitely should make in your young child’s literacy development are chapter books produced in a series. Believe me, I know firsthand how daunting it can be to buy the 10 or 20 (or even more!) books that make up a series, but, in the long run, it’s a small price to pay for the enormous impact chapter books can have on a child’s enthusiasm for reading and, consequently—as I outline in The

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The Busy Parent’s Guide to Cloning Yourself

According to one of the better guides to raising a bilingual child, called, well, Raising a Bilingual Child, the amount of exposure needed in the minority language is about 20 hours a week (at a minimum) to enable the minority language to keep pace with the majority language. In other words, if the exposure your child receives in the minority language is less than 20 hours a week, maintaining a balance between the two languages could prove difficult. The majority

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