4 French-Related Reads from Summer 2018

It’s September 11th here in Lyon and I find myself reflecting on Franco-American relations, books, and the state of the world. When I’m teaching on September 11th, I often share a condolence letter I received from a French acquaintance just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. My French friend was so kind to offer support; his thoughtful letter still reminds me how individual actions of encouragement can cause ripple effects wider than we realize.

What we read and write can shape others in significant ways.

Four years ago on this blog I recommended a fairly obscure book on childhood anthropology because it was a thought-provoking reminder that there are many ways to parent well. My book recommendation, The Anthropology of Childhood, was spotted by journalist Michael Erard, who read the book and in turn wrote a very impactful piece about it in The New York Times. I wouldn’t have known the impact that my book suggestion had on him were it not for a fellow blogger who shared his article with me, not knowing that I had recommended the book in the first place. The world is a more beautiful place when we can learn from each other’s reading!

Likewise, had it not been for blogger Gabrielle Blair’s mention of reading Global Mom in late 2013, I would not have sought out Melissa Dalton Bradford’s book and gotten to interview her here on the blog a few months later. I’m grateful for authors like her who write honestly from their experience, especially when their words spring from a place of grief and growth and healing.

Summer reading, though, on the whole, leans towards the light and leisurely; in July and August I hope you had a chance to read a novel or two that you loved. Here are three French-related non-fiction reads that I enjoyed this summer:

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Cité du Chocolat: A Family Day Trip from Lyon

Our family arrived in Lyon just over a week ago, so with another ten days before school begins, I decided we'd make a day trip to Valrhona's Cité du Chocolat--an educational experience (much like a hands-on museum) focused on chocolate. Located in Tain l'Hermitage roughly 50 minutes south of Lyon by train, Cite du Chocolat opened just five years ago (in 2013). Having had a delectable first visit in 2015, I was excited on this visit to see what was new (and to taste the high quality samples)!

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The Best History Theme Park in the World: France's Best-Kept Secret

In Northwest France, one hour from Nantes, there's a history-oriented theme park that puts on the most amazing and original shows you can imagine. Le Puy du Fou has been voted the best theme park in the world several times (Thea Awards, given in the USA), plus it attracts more than 2.3 million visitors per year and has top ratings on TripAdvisor. So why have you never heard of it?

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Inspiration for Bilingual Parenting: Adam Beck's Thoughtful Guidebook

Early in my quest to raise a bilingual child, I frequently read non-fiction books on bilingualism to help me grasp the requirements ahead. Eight years later, however, I'm now a homeschooling parent of three children, and my reading on the topic has slowed quite a bit. Since late last fall, however, I've been slowly savoring each little chapter of Adam Beck's indie-published book, Maximize your Child's Bilingual Ability. His book is neither a daunting tome of scientific research nor a fluffy anecdotal jaunt through his own parenting experience, but instead, it's the ideal guidebook for parents who are sure of their commitment to bilingual parenting but in need of ideas and ongoing inspiration. That covers every bilingual parent, including me!

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A Day in Our French Homeschooling Life: Ages 1, 4, & 7

This is our second year of homeschooling if you consider that my oldest child is now seven, but our "education at home" lifestyle has been gaining momentum since that daughter was young and we first decided to take this path. This year we've found a definite rhythm, but that's not to say that we follow a set schedule. With my children's young ages and with my belief in the importance of play at this stage, certain days are far less orderly than others--but here's a typical homeschooling day for us:

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Library Visits in France & the Children's Books We Loved There

Bonjour! The rain is pouring down, but spring is whispering from around the corner here in Oregon--there are little purple crocuses blooming in our front yard and yellow forsythia blossoms beckoning from the backyard. Nonetheless, today I'm taking you back to our summer travels in France to share about the library books my children enjoyed during our stay there. (I'll link to them on Amazon so you can obtain them if you're in the U.S. or Canada.) We visited libraries everywhere we traveled in France, and we were thrilled to obtain a library card in Lyon during the last two months of our France stay. (I simply needed to sign a form swearing to our address in France, however temporary it was.)

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An Interview with Kim Horton Levesque, Author of Paris with Children (plus a book giveaway!)

Les amis, I'm delighted to share this interview featuring Kim Horton Levesque, whose sweet and informative guidebook Paris with Children was published in 2013. Actually, the full title is The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children: Play, Eat, Shop, Stay. A dear friend sent me this book before our current stay in France, and I couldn't have been more thrilled! Kim's informative, pocket-sized guide is a mama's dream guide to Paris, listing kid-friendly cafés, children's shops, favorite family parks, and more. Even better, you can win a signed copy of her book by leaving a comment on this blog post (details below). Without further ado, here's my interview with Kim:


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