Books in Spanish promote biliteracy

by ANITA MENDEZ PEREZ

The Kyle Public Library has added a large selection of Spanish and bilingual (Spanish-English) books. The books were purchased through grants provided by Target, and the Burdine Johnson Foundation.  The collection includes beginning readers, juvenile fiction and nonfiction books. The community is invited to come by the library and check-out the Spanish and bilingual books.

Providing Spanish-speaking children with books in Spanish fosters the development of literacy skills and promotes language acquisition. In addition, research supports that children who are read to in their native language will have an easier time learning to read in their second language (Anstrom, 1999).  That’s because literacy skills learned in the native language can transfer to the second language (Denton, et al., 2000).  A study published by the Journal of Research in Childhood Education (Hancock, 2002) found that young Spanish-speaking children who were exposed to books in their native language developed stronger pre-literacy skills than Spanish-speaking children who were only exposed to English books.   These results indicate the importance of exposing children to books in Spanish to improve literacy skills in both their native language and English.

When parents read to children in Spanish, they introduce new words and concepts, and help their child maintain their native language.  Evidence from available research indicates that children who maintain their native language show higher self-esteem, better family relations, and greater academic aspirations compared to their monolingual peers who came from similar cultural backgrounds (Hurtado & Vega, 2004; Portes & Hoa, 2002).

Anita Mendez Perez is a board member at the Kyle Public Library.

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