I’ll start this week’s chapter chat with a joke my kids told me:
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
All right then. What do you call a person who speaks only one language?
And, just to be clear. That’s “American” with a derogatory tone. I’m so proud that my kids think this joke is funny! When I was in college, I took a seminar in which we had to describe the three things we really wanted to give our children. I don’t even remember the first two things I listed. Most likely something like “a roof” and “love”. But I remember the somewhat desperate feeling I had about the third thing – “a second language.” I knew even then that my horizons were limited by my monolingualism and it seemed daunting to dream of doing better for my own kids. As you can imagine, when Multicultural Kid Blogs offered up a book club on Bilingual is Better by Ana Flores and Roxana Soto, I jumped at the chance. I picked Chapter Two: Why Bilingual is Better. The discussion of Chapter 1 was sparked by a great post hosted by Spanish Playground. Read more
Spend less energy on travel logistics and more on preparing your kids. They’ll enjoy the trip so much more if they have educated expectations about the places you’ll be visiting. The more they know, the happier they’ll be (and so, of course, the happier you will be too). You can’t really expect them to be all excited about seeing a mosque when they don’t know what it is. And, let’s face it, art without expectation can be no fun at all. If you’ve read about the Mona Lisa in a story, it might be fun to go see her. On the other hand, standing in line to see a painting of a smirky lady that your parents tell you is “really famous”? Well, that just makes for really bad day.
We started taking the kids on international trips when our daughter was only two and a half, and it doesn’t surprise me that now, 8 years later, she doesn’t remember much about that trip. What did surprise me was how fast the memories can slip away, even for older children. Along with all the other fabulous tips and tricks in Ashley and Bill’s book, I really enjoyed the suggestions for how to keep the travel experience alive after you are home. My favorite souvenirs are those that tie to a special experience from the trip, or those that are created.
Sometimes you can stumble upon a special souvenir. In Switzerland we found a small store that had an English version of a children’s book by a local author. They also had a handmade doll of one of the characters. We bought both. Eight years later the doll from this town remains my daughter’s special travel companion, and the doll has traveled to every single country with us. The doll, Florina, also started a love of handmade dolls which has been shamelessly encouraged by her mother. My daughter now has handmade dolls from Russia, Armenia and Portugal – all purchased on trips. We keep our eyes open for new opportunities. Read more
Happy National Archaeology Day! Last year, Congress designated October 22 as National Archaeology Day and we’re celebrating with a trip to Ancient Egypt.
We started preparing for the tip back in August at the King Tut exhibit (in Seattle until January 6th). The audio guide was well worth the extra few dollars. In addition to information about the artifacts, the audio guide offered information about Ancient Egypt and the archaeologists who uncovered the tombs. The kid’s favorite artifacts included a box etched with cat drawings and the golden mask. We demo’d the final versions of the museum scavenger hunts for our book and I was happy to discover that they worked well. At the gift shop, the kids had their names written in hieroglyphics for $1 – always a crowd pleaser.
On longer trips, we usually make a pilgrimage to a locally-owned, independent bookstore to buy paperbacks. The books are a great souvenir and they also enrich the whole experience. We went a little crazy in Juneau at Hearthside Books: Pacific Northwest Legends, Facts about the Iditarod, an Alaskan adventure by local author Will Hobbs, a book of mammals and facts about them, and a beautiful story of a girl and a sled dog.Reading local books on the road is fun (and sometimes I read them too). It gives the kids motivation and context for what they’re visiting as well as motivation and context for what they’re reading.
I love Annick Press books. They’re good stories, they cost $1-$3 each, and they are tiny. You can fit an entire library in a sandwich bag. You can request them at your local bookstore and they are sometimes carried on Amazon. Search for Annikin or Annikin Edition.
How many times can your son watch the same movie, even a really bad movie? 112 times? 265 times? Because it’s really fun for kids when they know what comes next. Start at the library in the non-fiction section and get picture books or even videos about your destination. Biographies of famous people or details about the history of, say, soccer in Europe, or crickett in India. The fiction section can hold a lot of great opportunities but I usually need help from a creative librarian.