Some of our earliest childhood memories are centered around the well-loved storybooks our parents read to us or we paged through on our own or listened to in read-aloud sessions in kindergarten. You probably still remember your first favorite book — maybe you’ve even passed a copy along to your own kids such as Goodnight Moon? The Snowy Day? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Where the Wild Things Are?
Now imagine: What if those childhood books were written in words in a language you didn’t hear at home, one that you didn’t even dream in? How would that have shaped your associations with books and reading in general?
For around 40% of children globally, this is an all-too-familiar experience. Millions must learn school curricula in a language they don’t speak at home, creating the difficult and disorienting experience of learning to read and write while also simultaneously learning a new language.