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!
Full of his characteristic humor but also heavy with practical ideas, Beck's book is divided into two parts (perspectives and principles), each with thirty brief chapters detailing how bilingualism can be sustained and boosted as your children grow older. His writing is founded on his solid experience as a bilingual educator and as a father raising two children in a bilingual household in Japan. Beck has written consistently on this topic for years at his blog Bilingual Monkeys, and his interviews with experts and parents have given him a wealth of knowledge about the practical requirements and applicable methods.
If you're a few years into this journey of bilingual parenting, you know how easy it is to slip into a state of discouragement. After all, the more you learn about raising bilingual children, the more you are reminded that the journey is an uphill one. From his own experience, Beck is highly aware of the difficulty of the task, and yet he remains immensely practical and positive about the possibilities and outcomes for both parents and children. I couldn't be more grateful for his experience and realistic optimism, and I definitely came away with several new ideas for boosting my children's bilingual abilities.
If books are food for thought and if continuing to learn about bilingualism is an essential part of a bilingual parent's mental diet, then Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability is nutritional superfood. It's more than 300 pages in all, but each brief chapter (many are only 2-3 pages in length) is like a green smoothie--healthy and nutrient-dense, but also palatable, and even enjoyable. I actually plan to continue re-reading this book in small chunks on a daily basis, much like a devotional. Beck touches on ideas that I want to keep in mind for the next ten years or more, or at least until my children are ready to take over their bilingual progress for themselves.
Yes, raising fully bilingual kids is a task that requires consistent and creative effort over many years, but it's also a joyful one that enriches your family story. Beck acknowledges that a family's happy home life is the overall priority, and I'm grateful for his perspective. In fact, I suspect that I may have Adam Beck to thank as much as anyone else when my children are grown and our story is written.