This was a fantastic experience for children who hear their heritage language only spoken at home, as it showed children that libraries and other public places welcome their language and heritage, and storytelling in the heritage language can be a fun community activity.
The atmosphere was great, and the children enjoyed the unfamiliar experience of reading in Italian in a public space.
Each session also included arts and craft activities which allowed parents to get to chat with one another and make new friends.
Both Claudia from Mother Tongues and Beata, head librarian at Dolphin’s Barn library were extremely enthusiastic and pleased with the outcomes of the first few meetings, so we planned a multilingual storytelling series, including Polish, German, Chinese and Lithuanian. Each session was quite unique, and we allowed families to choose their style of facilitation.
For Polish storytelling, we gathered a fantastic group of Polish parents who read famous stories from their home country and created beautiful bear masks. The German storytelling turned out to be a toddler book reading and parents had the opportunity to meet other parents and to ask questions about bilingualism.
In February we were delighted to host Evan Furlong, director of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, who told children and parents how the 12 animals of Chinese Zodiac were chosen and ranked. This storytelling was bilingual, which meant that stories were told in both Chinese and English.
The following month we hosted the Lithuanian Saturday School. They read the story of the fox and the bear explaining why the fox is considered the smartest animal in the forest and the bear’s tail is so short. We were amazed at the children’s incredible reading skills in their heritage language and this special event was made even more special thanks to the visit of Virginija Umbrasiene of the Lithuanian Embassy. You could definitely see that the children were proud and happy to be able to speak Lithuanian.