Are you looking for a book about bilingual children to give to someone in the holidays? Or perhaps you just fancy a new book to read for yourself. Then this special episode of Kletsheads is definitely one for you! Because together with a panel of experts, we are reviewing three recently published books on raising bilingual (and trilingual) children. 

These are the books:

And here our the members of our (all-women!) panel:

Cécile De Cat is originally from Belgium and has lived in the UK for over 20 years. She is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Leeds. In her research, she asks what makes individual bilingual children differ from each other in how they learn and use their two languages. Via Language@Leeds and the Centre for Applied Education Research she also works with teachers to enhance research-informed approaches to education. Cécile is also raising her son bilingually (French and English). 

Christine Taylor is originally from the US and now lives in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, where she is raising her two children bilingually (English and Dutch). She is a professional storyteller, helping others to tell their own personal or professional stories. Find out more at her website

Mari Varsányi was born in Budapest, Hungary and now lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is the mother of a trilingual (Hungarian-Hebrew-Dutch) 3-year-old. She works as an educational consultant and trainer at human-ed (, working in the field of intercultural and inclusive education. 

For each book, we talk about stengths and weaknesses, whether the authors achieved what they set out to, whether the book is suitable for its intended audience, and we’ll each give the book a final rating from one to five stars – just like on Amazon, but then more fun! Of course, as reviewers, we each come to these books from our own personal and professional experiences, and these may be different from yours. Have a listen and hopefully, whatever your background, there’ll still be enough in this episode to give you a good idea about which books might be a suitable choice for you, or for someone you know.  Because I really wanted to do justice to each of the books discussed in the episode and give both the perspective of a parent and a scientist, we could only fit in three books in total (and even then, it’s still quite a long episode!). There are many more books available on this topic. Here are a couple of tips for other books which you might be interested in:

A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism offers a wealth of practical advice to parents and teachers of bilingual and multilingual children. Written in a reader-friendly question and answer format, author Colin Baker, (former) Professor of Education at Bangor University and father of three bilingual children, provides up-to-date, factual information on issues relating to the family, language development, reading and writing and education. It’s easy to dip into and covers almost every aspect of raising bilingual children you can think of. This is the book I always recommend when talking to parents. The only issue is that it was last revised in 2014 and so it’s starting to get a bit old. I don’t know that this will change much of the advice given but there are no doubt some insights from the latest scientific research which will be missing. Nevertheless, still worth a look! Read more here.

Dual Language Development & Disorders is aimed at language professionals, such as teachers and speech language therapists, who regularly come into contact with bilingual children. Now in its second edition, this book provides a clear and accessible overview of the latest research in bilingual first language acquisition and child second language acquisition. The first chapter introduces profiles of various children which are used to guide the reader through the relevant issues, including diagnosing disorders. The discussion focuses on examples set in North America, but the issues are applicable elsewhere. The authors, all based on Canada, are well-known experts in the field. Read more here.

And there’s a new book by Eowyn Crisfield (guest on the first episode of Kletsheads), due to be published in January 2021. I have yet to get my hands on it, but given the author, I’m sure it will be a worthwhile read. More details, plus the option of pre-ordering at the publishers’ website.

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