Category Archives: Listen

Stories Fit for a Prince or a Princess

Reading with kidsWith the British royal wedding only a few days away, royal fever seems to be gripping many people around the world.

And since I enjoy any excuse to read with my child, it seems like a good time to introduce some royalty-themed books into our nightly routine.

The Prince’s Bedtime by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Miriam Latimer is a wonderful read even if your little guy – like mine – isn’t too interested in the royal wedding. The problem facing the king and queen is universal: how do I get my child to fall asleep? All parents will be able to relate to the prince in the story who is only too willing to let his parents jump through hoops to get him to sleep at a reasonable hour. But it’s one wise old woman who finds the way to send him off to dreamland, no hoops required.

The Princess and the White Bear King by Tanya Robyn Batt and illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli combines Greek myths and Norwegian folk tales to spin a story of a brave young princess who withstands many trials, and her own foolishness, to win a husband worth having.

The Real Princess: A Mathemagical Tale by Brenda Williams and illustrated by Sophie Fatus is a mathematical take on the classic story of the Princess and the Pea. In this story, math plays a much greater role in the discovery of a real princess fit to marry the prince and take over the kingdom. Any parent who’s ever struggled with the stereotype that girls don’t like math will want to scoop this book up and make it part of their nightly reading ritual.

The Seven Wise Princesses: A Medieval Persian Epic by Wafa’ Tarnowska and illustrated by Nilesh Mistry is a great book to introduce children to Persian literature, which has been a dominant force for centuries. This book is based on a poem by Nizami, a Sufi poet who was born in the 12th century in what is today Azerbaijan. With ten stories told by different princesses from China to India to Greece to Morocco, it is a wonderful way to introduce children to folk tales from other cultures.

For more great books to read, check out the Barefoot Books website and KidCulture’s Amazon.com reading list.

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Europe, Listen, Middle East, Read

Hear the World

kids listening to musicLike most people, I love listening to lots of different kinds of music.

From Edith Piaf to Bob Marley to Loretta Lynn to Ali Farka Toure, I’m interested in many different voices.

I’ve succeeded in getting my son hooked (a little). He enjoys French children’s music; in fact, it’s his favorite CD to listen to in the car.

And we both enjoy a CD of African lullabies that I bought him when he was a baby. 

I’m always looking for new ways to broaden our collection and a relative recently gave us Putumayo’s  Picnic Playground with fun children’s songs from around the world.

The Putumayo World Music company and their Putumayo Kids collection is a great resource for CD’s from different countries and regions of the world. According to their website, their goal is to “introduce children to other cultures through fun, upbeat world music.” As a result, they’ve been acknowledged by the Parents’ Choice Awards and the National Parenting Publications Association. 

But you don’t have to buy a CD in order to get your child to listen to different music from around the world. YouTube has many songs from other cultures that are fun for kids. As always with YouTube, you have to monitor it carefully to ensure your child doesn’t accidentally see something inappropriate.

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Why Do We Say That?

Most of us pepper our English with a little foreign flavor. I know I do! Sometimes, it’s fun to insert a little Spanish or French into daily conversation. Sometimes, it’s just that the best word to describe something just happens to be from another language.

I promise you, I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about this.  But today, I read this blog about the origins of some of our words and phrases in English.

It was pretty interesting and maybe something to keep in mind when you’re throwing around “je ne sais quoi”, “Sturm und Drang”, and “ciao”!

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Filed under Learn, Listen

Smarter Kids

Think about it.  While we’re working so hard to give our children the best education possible, are we actually painting ourselves into a corner?  That’s the throught that sprang to mind when I read this USA Today article about foreign language programs for kids.  Although it was originally published in 2007, it’s still relevant  today. 

Just take this quote, for example:  “I’m smarter than my father. He can only speak one language.”

I think we can all agree that this would be a great problem to have.  So far, I have been unable to interest my son in learning either French (which his father and I speak) or Spanish (which I studied in school and is the kid “cool” language of Sesame Street, Dora, and Diego).  I’m still working on piquing his interest but I’m confident that once I get him there, the rewards of raising “smarter” kids will be clear.

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Filed under Europe, Latin America, Learn, Listen