“This game makes my tongue quite lame, sir.”


Dr. Seuss: an integral part of a child’s book collection.

An English speaking child’s book collection.

And there’s the rub (Shakespeare… also one of those authors whose works are difficult to translate, I imagine).

As you may or may not know, I am a bit of a literature nerd.
As in, I had no clue that the 3 Mile Island incident took place in my home state until Piet insisted and showed me on the Wikipedia (I’d insisted it  happened in New York), but I accurately guessed what century the story Tristan and Isolde was written while we were watching the movie, simply from the knowledge I had from a course I’d taken in Arthurian literature in my sophomore year of college.

Children’s literature is a subject I hold near and dear to my heart. When I was studying for my masters in early education, the course on children’s literature quickly became my favorite and I found myself buying more and more books for my classrooms in the daycare, the more I learned about different authors and illustrators. One of my favorite assignments in my literature class was systematically analyzing the components of picture/story books and determining the strengths of each book and how it could be used to teach different lessons in a classroom.

If I could design entire curricula around works of children’s literature, I would.

So while Piet and my mothers are shopping for cute little outfits and Piet is stockpiling bathroom accessories (as well as a surprising little collection of clothing), I’ve been compiling a list of books that I consider essential for my child’s personal library.

Chances are it’ll remain mostly a list until we definitely decide if/when we’ll move to the U.S., for mobility sake, but still, I’m a children’s literature snob and I’m going to be picky with books.

At least in English.

In Dutch I’m sort of at a loss. I’ve only been in 2 daycares in Belgium and both of them had very few books. In fact, one of them didn’t have any books until I pleaded my case with my employers and got 100€ to spend on buying kids’ books in America during one of my trips home.

So suffice it to say, I know very little about children’s books here. I’ve seen a few books that I know from America, but there are plenty that I think are really great books for children that I haven’t seen, like Dr. Seuss.

Which makes plenty of sense considering so many of Dr. Seuss’s books are wordplay/rhyming books that simply don’t translate in other languages. so I’m sort of struggling on whether or not it would be a good idea to be reading English wordplay books to a child whose main language (aside from with me) will be, for the foreseeable future, Dutch.
I’ve always thought that reading, especially books that use rhyme, are crucial to a child’s language development, but if your reading in a secondary language, does that hurt the development of the primary language?
Are there any Dutch books out there that are similar to Dr. Seuss (that play with words and sounds and rhymes)?

I distinctly remember one of my favorite bed time books as a child being Fox in Socks, and how much the 3 year old class in my daycare liked me to read Green Eggs and Ham (especially when I got to the point where I could read it very fast). Both of these books are Dr. Seuss classics that I’d really like to have in a book collection for the baby, but now I’m not so sure if it’s a good idea.


6 responses »

  1. Books in ANY LANGUAGE is always an outstanding idea. I would guess that there are rhyming books in Dutch…I mean rhyme is very basic to literacy awareness and beginning reading…no matter the language. I have been holding off on buying books just because I don’t know when you’ll be back and which to get…I mean, I have my absolute musts (including various Seuss books), but I’m just not sure. And reading in two languages WILL NOT confuse the baby. Example in point is American Sign Language…very distinct and different than English…typically a parent will sign the page in ASL (which is VOICE OFF so no vocal reading happens when you do ASL) and then read it aloud in English…you could do the same actually in English- Dutch with books like Goodnight Moon, Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc…no worry about rhyme but you use both languages. The other issue is bringing all those books back home…makes for heavy suitcases! Maybe you can borrow the basic baby books in Dutch from Kim and hold off on Seuss for a year.

    • Yeah, I definitely plan on seeing if we can get board books or chewable books from a gently used second had place and going to the library as well. I’ve already had to clear out a sizeable amount of books I’ve accumulated here, so I definitely don’t want to add a bunch of board books to that.
      As far as books to buy if/when we move, I’ll show you my list when we come visit, although I’m a huge fan of almost anything by David Wiesner, Eric Carle, and Maurice Sendak.

  2. Hoi Korie,
    Hier in de bib is er een een grote collectie kinderboeken met onder andere dr. seuss. Deze zijn zeker hier te koop!
    In kleinere boekhandels als ‘Paard van Troje’ en I-boeks kan je nog parels vinden.

    Het is raar dat je je goesting niet vindt, want België is zowaar het mekka van nieuwe en verfrissende prenten- en jeugdboeken.
    Kijk om je heen er is nog zoveel te ontdekken (buiten musti, nijntje en andere troep.).

  3. If you want to read to your baby in English, you should go ahead and do it; it won’t hurt or delay his adquisition of Duch and he won’t get confused either (no matter what good-meaning people might tell you). If you raise your baby bilingually, then English won’t be his second language, it will be his mother language, just like Dutch (one language will tend to be more dominant depending on where you live, but he’ll be able to use both languages depending on the situation). I read to my children in Spanish (even from books that are in English or Dutch), hubby does it in Dutch, and the children love it, it’s an activity that everyone enjoys!

    I agree with your mum, books are always a good idea, no matter the language. When we were expecting our first child, we went to a bookstore and hubby saw a couple of books that brought him nice childhood memories, one was “The very hungry carterpillar” (in Dutch) and the other one was “Dikkie Dik”, so we bought them; I think is nice that our children get to grow with the same books that mean something to us as children. Besides these, there are other fairly popular children’s books, one of them is the “Jip en Janneke”, and of course all of the comics (but those are not for really small children).

  4. In Leuven there is a children’s bookstore in the Tiensestraat 47 ‘De Kleine Johannes’. All libraries should also have a lot of children book’s? I know all kids that I babysat in the past were getting loads of books each week from the library.

  5. Have to agree with your lovely mum and Aubergine: read to them as much as you can in both languages. Our boys go to a Polish playschool but they speak English at home because it’s their father’s native language. Bedtime reading is always in both languages, and they never get confused. What’s more, if we read a book in English, their questions come in English, if it’s one in Polish, they switch to Polish no problem. They sometimes get confused and put an English word into a Polish sentence, but we can see now that the older is pretty much fluent in both. Oh, and a recommendation for your collection: anything by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. All four of us absolutely adore them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s