I was pleased to see this written by an american literacy group. As a teacher I encountered many parents who told me that their child must only speak English and were to be punished in some cases if they did not. This was not something I subscribed to as I believe you should develop your first as well as any subsequent language. However, I can understand their fear that any distraction including their first lanaguge was a bad thing and detrimental to their learning. Infact as more research is done on this it is becoming clearer that it enhances the childs understanding so it is refreshing to hear literacy specialists confirming what I had already observed and followed in my teaching. You can read about their finding at: http://www.literacynews.com/2012/05/raising-a-bilingual-child-on-books/
Raising a Bilingual Child on Books
Books are a great way to help your kids broaden their vocabulary and teach the heritage and traditions of diverse cultures. Reading is essential, no matter the language that your child is learning. It helps assemble the required groundwork for improving both language and literacy from a young age.
In What Language Should You Read?
If you use the OPOL method (One Person, One Language i.e. the father and/or mother speaks another language) to rear your kids bilingual, many experts agree to stick with the language that you normally use when you speak. If you speak in Spanish to your child, read him or her books in Spanish. The benefit of bilingual books—and you can choose from many in the English-Spanish-combination—is that both parents can read the same book in their own language. You can uncover a range of bilingual, English or Spanish books in the library, book store, or online. If you can understand English and cannot locate books in Spanish, you can read any book, translating to your language as you read. In terms of teaching your child to read, research reveals that it’s simpler on the native tongue of your child. As the parent, you must decide which language to teach your child. If you use the method mL @ H (minority language at home), and Spanish is the minority language, then this is the language that you employ to teach your child to read.
With the OPOL method, a language always dominates over the other. For example, if you reside in the U.S. and are teaching your child English and Spanish, you’ll likely find it easier to teach reading in English, which is the principal language in your community. But residing in the U.S. and not speaking English doesn’t imply you cannot teach reading to your children in Spanish. You have to realize that teaching reading in Spanish will not hurt your children or slow them down. Instead, it’ll impart them with the foundation which they need to read in English.
Remember that you only need to understand how to read once. I frequently hear parents say that Spanish speakers residing in the U.S. have ceased reading at home because they worry that reading in Spanish can confuse their children. As the parent, you are the first teacher and influencer of language for your children, so it is critical that you feel comfortable using your own native language.