French & American Children's Fiction: Comparing Cultural Clues

As my children grow towards school-age, we're reading a larger variety of short stories in French and English, and I'm delighting in the subtle differences along the way. Fiction stories are culture capsules--they rarely reveal culture overtly, but the more one reads, the more one sees how the stories reflect cultural tendencies. At the risk of wading into stereotypes, I'll share the key differences I've noticed:

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Why I'm Raising My Children to Believe in God

Intentional Mama is a blog that focuses on parenting, French language learning, and raising bilingual children; it exists to inspire, encourage, and inform. At times I include references to God in my writing here, but I recognize that you may be coming from different points of view. Nonetheless, in honor of Easter this weekend, here are three explanations as to why I'm raising my children to believe in God:

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Remembering Easter in France: Church, Chimes, & Chocolate

This week between Palm Sunday and Easter, Holy Week, brings back my memories of Easter (Pâques) in France. During my first exchange in France ten years ago, I lived on the campus of a Protestant theology school in Aix-en-Provence. (That's unusual for a homestay situation, but my host parents were employed there.) On Easter morning, a French friend drove me to an outdoor Easter sunrise service in a nearby village; the sunrise was glorious and I appreciated the opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with a small group of wonderful French families.

Afterwards, my host maman, host soeur and I had lunch at a friend's home where we enjoyed a meal featuring a succulent roast lamb--the first time I'd ever tasted lamb. (I'd been vegetarian for a few months before I lived in France, but chose to expand my eating preferences to educate my taste buds and to make meal preparation easier on my host family. I've eaten meat ever since.) It was far better than the mutton (aged sheep) I'd eaten in England!

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Getting My Children to Tell Stories in their Minority Language

In January I posted my family language goals for this year, explaining how I hoped to get my children to speak more often in French, their minority language. Here are some ways that I've had success in getting them to tell more stories in that minority language:

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Global Mom: An Interview with Melissa Dalton-Bradford

It's rare to find a book that enhances your knowledge of world cultures while embracing you as a cherished family friend and confidante, yet Melissa Dalton-Bradford does exactly this in her memoir, Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family. More than a collection of tales of family globetrotting, Global Mom recounts with humor and honesty her family's journey through life-altering circumstances, and the result is a book that brims with touching truths and memorable moments.

Ever gracious, Melissa agreed to answer some questions I had for her after reading her book. (She responded from Geneva while preparing for their upcoming move to Frankfurt.) It's an honor to share her responses with you here.

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Disney's Frozen in French: Music & Film Clips from "La Reine des Neiges"

As a fan of quality animated films, my husband was quick to purchase Disney's Frozen on DVD for the benefit of our five-year-old daughter. She adores the story, though I wish that the Blu-ray version we purchased had a French audio option. As a next-best alternative, I'm featuring some official film clips here from La Reine des Neiges, the French version, so that you and my daughter can enjoy portions of this sweet story and its music in French. 

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C'est le Weekend: Links You'll Like

I'm so grateful it's Friday! We've had painters working at our home all week, painting the trim, the doors, the hall, and the entry. (We used to do our own painting, but it's quite the challenge once you have preschoolers about.) We slept elsewhere for a night, and had to sleep with fumes and restless cats the other nights (the interior doors were removed for painting), so we're intensely grateful that our home is once again a place of peace--now with a few fresh coats of paint.

How was your week? Did you encounter any April Fools' gags? (I enjoyed reading about April Fools' Day Traditions Around the World on a recent post from Maria at Trilingual Mama). In France, April 1st is called Poisson d'Avril, and vintage postcards from this day are quite entertaining:

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