Passing on a love for words

Posted on December 12, 2022

I’ve always admired people who are passionate about reading. Not just those who enjoy books, but those who devour them! People who can dive into a book and travel anywhere at will, while sitting comfortably in their living room or on their balcony. I sometimes imagine myself in a small café, a latte in one hand and a delicious book in the other. It doesn’t get any better!

But it’s not that simple for me: immersing myself in an ocean of words is rather like drowning. I get lost in my thoughts; the melodious twittering of birds becomes a bother; the warm sunshine becomes blinding. You see where I’m going: in short, everything in my universe gets amplified and distracts me.

Yet I’ve always loved French, my mother tongue. As a child, I taught myself to speak English because I thought it was such a cool language! And on Sundays, I learned to read and write Farsi, which I spoke fluently with my father. At school, I loved to write, especially stories! But reading never came naturally to me.

I would really have liked to pass on a passion for reading to my children, but since it’s not my cup of tea, I offer them the love of words instead!

The holiday season is a great time to enjoy our interests together as a family. So I offer some ideas on how to inspire a love of words in your children in a different way.

Cooks, don your aprons!

This time of year, many of us spend more time cooking. So why not involve everyone in the family? First, you need to find a recipe—a good excuse to go to the library and choose a book or two together! Children’s cookbooks often have more pictures and can be an excellent choice, as the recipes are easier to follow and require fewer ingredients.

Once you’ve chosen your recipe, make the grocery list together. If you have preschoolers, you can put a few things down on a piece of paper and let them rewrite it as a list or have them trace the letters over yours. If your children can write, make it a dictation!

When you’ve assembled all the ingredients, start working on the recipe, letting the kids read out each step. After all, that’s their role as chefs! You may want to help younger children identify certain words, such as “egg,” in each step of the recipe, much as they would in a “search and find” book. Of course, there are a lot of ways to introduce kids to words while following a recipe; let your imagination run wild!

Do your children prefer crafts over cooking? It’s really easy to adapt this activity. Just borrow a book on arts and crafts or woodworking, and you’re all set!

Nursery rhymes, songs and traditions

In our house, singing is a part of everyday life. The holiday season is another opportunity to sing our favourites together as a family. It’s also a good excuse to add new tunes to our repertoire. And why not learn some nursery rhymes and songs in our second language? I’ve noticed that songs are used a lot in language learning, both in daycare and at school. There must be a good reason for that!

Writing to discover the power of words

When I was a little girl in school, we used to write letters to seniors with the goal of making them feel less lonely. It was one of my favourite things to do at this time of year. There’s nothing new or remarkable about it, but it’s oh so gratifying to know that we’re bringing someone happiness with our letter! Writing to someone you don’t know is a way to develop empathy, boost creativity and discover the power of words. And who knows, maybe that simple letter will lead to a lengthier correspondence.

Listening to and telling stories

The holiday season is an opportunity to visit our loved ones, some of whom live far away. On these trips, we have a lot of free time in the car, and we’ve discovered the pleasures of children’s podcasts. It’s a great alternative to being glued to a screen, and there’s something for everyone. In our family, stories are at the top of the list! When kids listen to stories, they enrich their vocabulary.

Then it’s our turn! We express our creativity by making up and telling our own stories, which are sometimes a little crazy and nonsensical. Those family moments are both precious and fun. We laugh ourselves silly, and we get to use the words we learned from the podcasts. As our eldest child tells us new stories, we can see how his sentence structure is evolving.

The ideas I’ve outlined above can be tailored to your tastes, your personality and your needs. One option is to do activities in your family’s second language. You could also discover different cultures by learning songs, cooking food or listening to stories from specific Indigenous communities or regions of Canada.

As I write this, I realize how simple it is to make language learning part of our family activities. We often do this without even realizing it. The love of words can be passed on in many ways. Discover what works best for you!

What activities do you do at home to help your children become more fluent in their first or second language? Leave us a comment!


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Monya Doryani

Monya Doryani

Monya Doryani

Monya has worked in communications in the federal government since 2018. Her ambition is to convey messages that are vivid and easy to understand. Creativity is a source of motivation for her; she tries to put a bit of colour into every project she works on. Monya loves the French language, her mother tongue, and is proud of her second language, English. She considers bilingualism a great asset. In her view, being fluent in more than one language is an invaluable opportunity because communication is the basis of human relationships. In her spare time, Monya enjoys being a mother, a role that allows her to pass on her thirst for learning and rediscover her inner child.




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Submitted by Brian Chamberlain on December 21, 2022, at 8:51

A truly inspiring post....although I have no children of my own, I fully agree with the fact that they need to become 'more involved' in activities other than those associated to the new age world of social media and al the gadgets that support it. I enjoy interacting with my two 'great nieces' on the few occasions I get to see them....just to watch their facial expressions and realize at the same time that I was once that age (currently 4 and 2)....wondering the whole time how they will be when they reach their teen years and beyond. We all need to be kids again, and you'll quickly realize just how fun and satisfying it is when you take some time and "become one of them"!!