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Mother Tongues Storytelling projects

Over the last 12 months, we have been working with Chester Beatty Library and Dolphin’s Barn Library on two family storytelling projects. We have experimented both with bilingual storytelling, where every child can join in and try to engage with a dual language story and with single language storytelling, where facilitators and parents only read in the children’s heritage language.
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.
Language adventures, Raising bilingual children, Mother Tongues, multilingualism, bilingualism, DublinOur multilingual storytelling project Language Adventures started at Dolphins Barn Library with a series of six mornings in which Italian speaking mothers and fathers read and told stories to their children.
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.

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Our next events at Dolphins Barn Library will be in Greek and French. The Greek storytelling is organised in collaboration with the Hellenic Community of Ireland School and it will take place on 27th April at 10.30. This event will allow everyone to get a glimpse into Greek language and culture, and it will be held in Greek and English. On 25th May you will meet author Juliette Saumande for an hour of stories and songs in French. We will even make our own books at the end.
In collaboration with the Chester Beatty Library, we organised more multilingual storytelling sessions in Chinese, Greek, Lithuanian and Japanese. These events are held bilingually – English and the corresponding language. The first two were well attended and much appreciated by the public.
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