Red Hot!

Lingo Lessons

What: Foreign language books for kids
Who: Vincenzo Palladino and Christabelle Peters of The Bilingual Baby Company
Where: Takoma Park, Maryland
When: Started in 1999

As first-generation immigrants, husband and wife Vincenzo Palladino, 37, and Christabelle Peters, 40 (who emigrated from Italy and the United Kingdom, respectively), found teaching their children their native tongues came naturally. But when it was time to provide their kids with books to develop language skills, they found out just how English-centric the U.S. book market is.

So Peters went to the Frankfurt International Book Fair, purchased some foreign-language children's titles on credit and started selling the books at book fairs and on their Web site (www.thebilingualbabyco.com).

Fans of their products include immigrant parents and academics who recognize the value of teaching children multiple languages. Even language-immersion schools have placed orders. "Customers are so enthusiastic, they volunteer to review books," says Peters, who also speaks French and German as well as some Italian and Spanish.

The line includes 250 titles in 10 languages, and year-end sales are expected to reach $40,000. Palladino and Peters would like to produce books on audiocassette and publish bicultural authors' books in the United States, but for now, they'll continue to hit book fairs and sell books online.

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This article was originally published in the August 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Red Hot!.

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