Foreign Language in Children's Books

external image openbook.gif

  • At the Park
  • Baseball in April by Gary Soto, one story in particular features a grandfather who is speaking Spanish to his grandson, using the technique of having the Spanish and English appear in tandem. Other Spanish words in the stories become clear through context.
  • ELOISE IN PARIS by Kay Thompson (1957) in which Eloise travels to France and there are French phrases strewn throughout. This first of three sequels to KAY THOMPSON'S ELOISE has been out-of-print for 35 years, but will be available again in May from Simon & Schuster.
  • The Fighting Ground by Avi, in which the dialogue of the Hessians is only inferable from context (although I believe there is also a translation at the back).
  • In the Snow
  • Two Dreamers,and it very poignantly captures the position of children who are more acclimated to a new culture than their parents or grandparents are. The child must struggle with the cognitive dissonance of simultaneously knowing more than his grandpa because he is "more" American and knowing less than him because he is just a kid, a common dilemma for children of immigrants.
  • Veronica Chambers's Marisol and Magdelena, in which the characters are Panamanian-American. M & M admit they speak "Spanglish" in an extended family in which fluency in Spanish and bi-culturalism is an issue.
  • Villette, by Charlotte Bronte. When I read it I was 16 or 17, and I too felt very clever reading the very numerous French passages. I remember huge hunks of the dialogue were in French, with translations in the footnotes.
  • When This World Was New, by D.H. Figueredo a Lee and Low imprint It's the story of a boy from the Caribbean and his first day in the U.S. The boy doesn't speak English and he's afraid of going to school in the U.S.: How is the teacher going to understand him? Though the boy is thinking in Spanish, the story is written in English with Spanish words here and there.