Justin and I aren't big on souvenirs. Typically we carry far too much with us going, and weak me resists any temptation to add to that weight on returning. As hopeful-minimalists, we try to keep the souvenir purchases to a minimum, but there is one type of item that I simply can't resist getting my hands on.

Books. :)

I love the idea of buying books in different languages because they are "unique" and "different". These "other languaged" books are hard to find at home, and I like that they encourage myself, my husband, and my nephew (proud aunt!) to grow in our language learning skills.

During our last trip to France, my husband and I picked out the following four books for my nephew, who is about to turn 1. The books all use really simple, repetitive language and offer different textures on the pages for kids to feel, keeping their interest for all five pages. I love that the books are hardback with stiff pages, perfect for the age when child-chewing is at it's peak. My one wish is that these books came with audio cds or .mp3s so that American children, like my nephew, would be able to learn the correct pronunciations for the French words, something that even I (an adult) am finding difficult with while following along with Coffee Break French.

Où est mon hamster ? by Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells

Où est mon chaton ? by Fiona Watt

Où est mon monstre ? by Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells

Où est mon cochon ? by Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells

Meanwhile, my husband and I have been attempting to work our way through Le grand manuel du pâtissier. It's a French pastry book providing lots of pictures to aid us in our translation. So far, the only recipe we have actually worked our way through has been Madeleines, which ended in disaster. :( We anticipate continuing forth in our effort to learn French and French cooking, but currently travels have kept us out of the kitchen and struggling to keep with life. We anticipate future French cooking attempts to turn out much better (especially with Madeleines) since we now know better what we are doing. :)

Le grand manuel du pâtissier
by Mélanie Dupuis & Anne Cazor
Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to mention a few German books we got our hands on before our trip to Germany ended last January.

Hörst du das? Die Ritter

Der Maulwurf und der Fisch by Katrina Miler

Die Ritter seems easy enough in a complicated way. The buttons on the right make sounds that allow one to easily skim through the page while still getting an idea of what is going on, even without any German language background. Obviously reading this may be a bit too complicated for a non-German speaking mom, but it should be easy enough for German-language exposed aunts and uncles to help their nephew get through. :) Worst case scenario, we can just make guesses at what we think words mean. Usually that's good enough. :)

Der Maulwurf, on the other hand, definitely seems intense mit vielen Sätze (with many sentences) filling up each page; however, we had to get the book since Der Maulwurf is a well-known children's cartoon character in Germany, or so we were told. :) We also got a train set, with the characters from the children's series, that our nephew has already figured out! I guess some things come more naturally to children than others. ;)

Das Kochbuch Schwäbisch Hall

My husband and I picked up Das Kochbuch Schwäbisch Hall, for ourselves, of which we've only used once thus far. We made spätzle with the book, and nasty-tasting spätzle at that. Perhaps our future cooking endeavors will be more fruitful since I am a bit picky when it comes to spätzle, even without the German language completely throwing us off.

While Justin and I haven't had the most success getting through these books that have weighed down our luggage and added to our travel stress, I love having books in my home that encourage reading, learning, and cooking. I'm grateful for the experiences traveling that have enabled me to bring these books into my home, and I look forward to sharing what I learn through the use of these books with my nephew, family, and friends.

Do you have a favorite type of souvenir to bring home when you travel? Do you think I'm crazy to purchase books in languages I'm not fluent in? ;)

* I'm participating in Susannah Conway's August Break. Today's post was written with "squares" (or rectangles?) in mind (day 22).

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