July 2, 2010
I didn't grow up reading the Gruffalo. Only Nod Nod translated into French. I also prefer my kids to read French and Arabic books, as I know they will acquire English through life. They read Franklin the Turtle in translation. However, I do prefer books to be read in their original language and I so I make exceptions for them once in a while, essentially when the playdate is not a French speaker. For example, I come upon a Fancy Nancy story (about an American girl who is fancy enough to speak French and very eloquent English). I read it to my children, and they build their vocabulary, in an entertaining fancy sort of way.
I also read Dr Seuss to my kids in English. The poetry of Dr Seuss is non translatable. Another special book is the Gruffalo. It is the story of a smart mouse who scares a Gruffalo monster. In the Gruffalo's Child, the child has heard so many horror stories about the mouse that he ventures out in search of him.
Fifty meters away from the pool where my son swims every other day in Dubai, there is a British oasis of culture, tucked behind the video store and the Park and Shop. Its called Book Worm. This is where I go to buy the British books that cannot be found easily in the USA for my nephews.
The smell of paper and that delightful atmosphere welcome me at the door. It is a very small space, always packed with children's books only. Very colorful ones. I walked in last week and asked the bookshop seller: "Do you have any books about dragons?" My nephew is fascinated by dragons. The British lady took me to half a shelf of books, all thematically shelved, all about dragons. I had a field day choosing! What a pleasure for children to have a place for themselves to look at books, discover new ones and find others they are familiar with. The pleasure of reading should come early and I appreciate having access to a bookstore like Book Worm for my kids, so they may think that books are a treat and a gift.