I want to read in (insert your native language)

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by Tim Burdick on 05 July, 2015

Last week I bought a Czech children’s book O Čertovi by Pavel Čech. The illustrations showed a devil cast out from the fiery pits of Hades and sent to the human world where he caused all kinds of mischief: bending TV antennas and cutting laundry lines. Despite his nighttime fun, he felt alone, discovered an orphan girl and fell in love. But wait! How does the story end?

I don’t know because my Czech isn’t good enough yet to translate the whole story. With my Czech studies, I hope one day to figure out the ending. Bit by bit, I understand a few more words, a paragraph and then a scene. Gradually, I will get all the details and plot twists to understand the story’s beauty.

In the literary world, only a few global sensations (e.g. Harry Potter) exist while there are many national bedtime treasures that I am eager to discover. For example, without the bilingual edition, I would never have read children’s classic Dášeňka by Karel Čapek. Once when I was in Switzerland, I discovered a picture book sensation: The Snowstorm by Alois Carigiet and Selina Chonz. I loved it because it reminded me of the illustrated picture books of the 50’s that I read in my aunt’s house. Without travelling, I would never have found it.

So, it makes me sad that I won’t be able to read everything because I only speak English or that I don’t have the financial resources to travel the earth, hunting down these literary delights. Life is too short and I can’t wait for everything to be translated or find it on Amazon. Of course, I could spend the rest of my life learning all the world languages in order that I can enjoy so many wonderful stories, but then I would never leave my house.

So, I am happy that my son will be bilingual. Therefore he will be able to enjoy the children’s classics in English and Czech. Someday he could even read German or French. Who knows?

Hopefully in the future, he can tell me how the devil book ends.

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