PADDINGTON, the movie, will be opening in the United States on Friday, January 16th. Paddington Bear, a classic character from English children’s literature, is known around the globe and Paddington books have been translated into at least 40 languages. He is a lovable and accident-prone bear from Peru who fortuitously ends up in London and is adopted by the Brown family.
All the hype about the movie has prompted me to share with my readers how these endearing books by Michael Bond can be an invaluable tool to expose our children to the wonderful world of languages and cultures. Paddington Bear books are perfect for reading to both – children who are learning English as a second language as well as to native (Non-British) English speakers who are curious about how English is spoken in other parts of the world. I highly recommend these engaging, playful and beautifully illustrated books for pre-readers, early readers and independent readers.
I began reading the picture book series illustrated by R.W. Alley to my boys when they were about two years old. The picture books are written in a simpler format than the original Paddington novels which are full length chapter books written in 1956. As my children had already developed a keen ear for language nuances, they picked up on the British English expressions and colloquialisms, learned much about the culture and customs of England as well as geography. If you are not British, yet feel compelled to feign a British accent when reading Paddington books aloud, you and your child will likely find these stories even more delightful!!
Paddington picture books, such as Paddington at the Tower, Paddington at the Carnival, and Paddington at the Palace provide numerous opportunities to talk about the bustling city of London, the red London double decker buses, and the Union Jack. As children travel with Paddington on his fun-filled adventures, they learn what a monarchy is and tidbits of royal protocol; what a Beefeater is and who wears a busby; and new words such as “elevenses”. Children will also discover new locations like Little Venice, London and the inside of the Tower of London.
Paddington chapter books are ideal for children who have developed a longer attention span and can follow more complex plots. They are filled with messy adventures and intriguing elements that capture the attention of children of many ages. These books provide the same benefits as the picture books, but in a more sophisticated manner. For example, the first book of the series, describes in detail South America and darkest Peru and piques children’s curiosity about that region of the world. The chapter books can be read aloud to children or read independently by children.
If you would like to benefit from all of the British English expressions and colloquialisms as originally published, then be certain to purchase the UK edition of the books.
Paddington books have been instrumental in furthering my boys’ understanding of the global world we live in. If one of your goals is to raise a world citizen, Paddington Bear is a great place to start.
Enjoy the movie, but don’t miss out on the books!!!