What is a bilingual book?

By August 15, 2018 June 2nd, 2020 News
What is a bilingual book?


Bilingual books are a wonderful aid to learning a second language and are particularly effective for toddlers and young children. They are sometimes referred to as ‘Dual Language Books’ or ‘Side-by-Side Books’ and have 2 different languages on the same page with the second language being a translation (comparison) of the first.

Whilst there are no rules around the typographic layout of a bilingual book, they are often seen with one language at the top and one language at the bottom, allowing the reader to compare vocabulary, language style, grammar and alphabetical characters with ease.


Bilingual books have been around since the 1980’s and are widely recognised as a valuable resource for parents and educators to use with children as they provide a child-friendly bridge to reading and speaking in another language.

The beauty of bilingual books is that they combine language learning with the age-old love of storytelling. What parent doesn’t love reading to their child and what child doesn’t enjoy story time!? It’s a win-win in every sense.

A bilingual book will work in any language combination and here at Unuhi we feature 20 languages which is the equivalent of almost 200 different language combinations! We are bringing bilingual books to as many kids as we can across the globe and plan to add new languages as soon as possible.

Our books are available in any combination of the following languages: English, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Filipino.

Benefits at home

During infancy and early childhood, children have enormous potential to learn multiple languages without too much effort. When 2 languages are spoken within the same family, parents have the opportunity to pass on their mother-tongue to their children. Some might say that there is no greater gift in life than the ability to speak a second language and bilingual books are a really helpful tool to encourage this process.

At home, reading with parents is both emotionally and educationally important for children. Story time brings back fond memories for us all. It is also one of a child’s first experiences of connecting the written and spoken word together. Bilingual books play an important part for a child being exposed to a second (or third or fourth!) language and it encourages daily use of a second language at home.

Bilingual books allow children to work simultaneously in two languages to decode unfamiliar text, negotiate meaning and explore the differences between languages. If children can read in both languages, then they should be encouraged to do so, even if one language is stronger than the other. Understanding the story in the stronger language can help them learn the weaker language.

Benefits at school

At school, teachers can read a bilingual book out loud in the school language while parents read the same book out loud at home in their language. Did you know that parents who read to their children in a home language can actually help strengthen their children’s academic skills? That’s true even if the school language is different from the home language. When teachers select bilingual books that focus on different cultures, they are helping children feel comfortable with cultural diversity. It is a gentle way for teachers to cultivate multicultural awareness and appreciation in their students.

Make bilingual learning fun!

We know that the benefits of speaking more than one language are many. But it is important that children themselves buy into this knowledge. Bilingual books provide an opportunity to have fun with language.

The goal is to help children embrace all of their languages so that as they grow they will be able to use these languages with confidence and pleasure in the many multilingual and multicultural situations in which they will find themselves. Reading and enjoying bilingual books is one great way to help our children achieve this goal.

With the new iPad app from Unuhi, you will be able to enjoy reading stories in the 2 languages of your choice, making us the go-to app for fun bilingual stories for children aged 3-8+.

Mark Bassett

About Mark Bassett

Mark is the founder and CEO of Unuhi and speaks English, Italian and Spanish. Having travelled extensively, it was his vision to bring bilingual books to everyone, no matter what languages they speak.

If you are raising bilingual children, Unuhi could be for you. Download the app for FREE and start reading books to your kids in the 2 languages of your choice.

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