It just so happens that one of my all-time favorite books is ‘The Little Prince’, way before I had the knowledge that it was originally written in French as ‘Le Petit Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (who was from Lyon, a city that named its airport after him and has a main square in the city center with a very very lovely statue of the little prince, and of course a few painted walls dedicated to him). Many (many) years back when I was learning French in Shanghai, I bought this Chinese/French bilingual version of 小王子/Le Petit Prince, and have ever since always been keeping it with me (along with nearly 15 times of moving from country to country).
So what is a better book to read to Nina than this one? The bonus is that Nicolas and I are able to read Chinese and French version respectively from the same book. What a visionary I was back in time! ;p
I always knew that I would read to Nina from very early on, and I started within the first week of Nina’s birth. Of course I know that she wouldn’t understand a word, and she doesn’t care what I am reading, and she wouldn’t even know that this is called reading. I am not expecting any of these. The idea here – which is not mine but linguists and scientists’ – is to allow her build the neural connections (or rather not to lose the capability of building them) that enables her to distinguish the tonality of the language(s) we wish her to speak, and to relate reading as something joyful and interesting part of daily routine.
Research shows that infants are tuned to all the tonalities and nuances in all languages at birth, IF given opportunites for stimulation and exposure. However by the age of 1-2 years or so (I have read different versions, and it’s apparent not hard science), if not given opportunities, they lose the ability to hear the differences.
Of course, Nina would get her normal dose of Chinese/French from the daily conversation (as any parent would be advised, talking to the child is one great way of bonding even it’s a one-way communication verbally to start with), reading from a book certainly expands the variety of tonalities and expression.
On top of it (or rather more importantly), it has always been a pleasure to read this timeless masterpiece. Every time I read this book, I felt peace. Now I’m sharing this with Nina. I hope you like it, 小南。