These Bilingual Books for Kids Are Perfect for Parents Who Aren’t Native Speakers
We want our kids to be global citizens and see the world and appreciate all the cultures. And learning a second language is part of all that. But it can be so hard when one or both parents only speak English, and even having a native speaker in the home takes major discipline. Enter Habbi Habbi, a super easy and screen-free way to start kids on Chinese or Spanish (with more languages in the works).
These colorful board books for kids ages 0 up to 8 come with a playful wand that translates each word as kids tap on the visuals.
Founders Anne-Louise Nieto (right) and Hanna Chiou (left) are both moms of two. Hanna grew up speaking Mandarin but not reading it while Nieto is married to a Spanish speaker but is learning along with her two boys. "I remember two years ago, when my older son first started at his Spanish immersion preschool, we went to a school picnic and one of the other moms asked him ¿Cuántos años tienes? (how old are you?) and I remember thinking 'Wow, I have so much to learn!', says Nieto.
Six months later Habbi Habbi was born. "The content is very intentional, progressive and modern," says Nieto. That means strong female characters (moms with careers!), diverse family structures, inclusive body types and content that helps kids express emotions in more than one language.
"As a non-Spanish speaker, I think the way that the wand and books have been most helpful to me, is the audio — hearing how things are pronounced is a game changer. It gives me the confidence to actually say/repeat things out loud so I can help reinforce their learning," says Nieto.
Chiou has had a different experience. "It's challenging because Chinese is character-based so most books and materials from Asia are intimidating because they are a sea of characters — and speaking and listening doesn't translate to reading," she says. That's where the idea for the wand, which you can use for all books, came up.
"All you have to do is turn on and tap," says Chiou. "We literally only have volume and power button — nothing else."
Are you raising a bilingual child? Share your experience with us @BritandCo!
Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.