A rep from Oxford University Press recently approached me and asked if I'd do a review of a childrens' bilingual language-learning book. Having had the pleasure of raising two bilingual children myself, I'm happy to oblige.
Compiled by Neil Morris and lovingly illustrated by David Melling, German First Words is part of The Oxford First Words Series. It is labeled as a 'thematic bilingual picture book with over 400 words in German and English' and recommended for 4 to 8 yr olds.
Each double page of this book covers a different area. A large illustration in the middle is bordered on the left and right by miniature drawings accompanying German vocabulary in bold print and an English translation in a smaller font. Everday themes such as home, school and shopping are mixed with more exotic fare - dinosaurs, stone age man, ancient Egyptians and fairy tales stir up a child's imagination and enrich his vocabulary.
Now, this format is nothing new. We had many books of this type when my children were young (in the opposite language constellation, of course). They loved them and learned from them. It's the illustrations that make the book really special. Every time you come back for more you'll discover something new, something that will most likely bring a big smile to your face.
As a wonderfully funny touch, right in the middle of the book a family of ungeheure Ungeheuer (monstrous monsters in English) shows up to get in on the fun. These little monsters aren't really monstrous at all, they're really quite adorable and go about their daily lives just as you and your family would.
Bonus material at the back includes sections on counting, telling the time, weather, opposites, shapes and colours as well as a word-picture matching game. Whether you're a German parent in a foreign country trying to teach your child your native language, or just someone interested in the language for fun, this is a book that can grow with your child and be used for years in many different ways.
As luck would have it, the books in the First Word series are also available in French/English and Spanish/English versions. Here's the blurb from the bottom of the press release in case I've piqued your interest.
by David Melling and Neil Morris, will be published, in paperback,
by Oxford University Press on November 6, 2008
$12.95 / 48 full color pages / ISBN: 978-0-19-911002-5[French],