As a library wanting to reach as many audiences as we can, to provide an inclusive and welcoming service, we are always looking for ways to spread the reach of services we offer. We had the perfect opportunity to do this last year when we were approached by Dr Sabine Little, SFHEA Lecturer in Educational Studies (Languages Education) who was very keen to launch a multilingual collection of books in the Central Children's & Young People's Library.
After much work from Sabine, staff and generous donations from numerous kind members of the public, publishers, authors and illustrators, including Sheffield's very own Caryl Hart and Lydia Monks in November 2019 our Multilingual Book Collection was launched and has gone from strength to strength.
With a focus on books in as wide a variety of languages as we were able to find, but also languages relevant to the local communities in Sheffield, and high quality books for all ages, this large collection is now a well used and much loved part of our shelves offering choice for groups who may have, in the past, been overlooked.
In conjunction with the Multilingual Collection, Sabine has organised numerous fantastic events and a reading challenge. On Saturday, 27th April we had an all day multilingual Readathon which was a great success. Read more about it below.
Mungo Makes New Friends
Mantra Lingua dual language children's picture storybook
Written by Gill Aitchison Illustrated by Jill Newton
Gill Aitchison, author of 'Mungo Makes New Friends' visited Sheffield City Children's Library last Saturday to read her book in English as part of a Readathon.
'Mungo Makes New Friends' is the story of a lonely, old horse set in Scotland where Gill now lives. It is an illustrated children's story which is available in dual language format. Dr Sabine Little, who set up the Multilingual section of the Library, invited readers of Bulgarian, Czech, Farsi, French, Italian, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak and Spanish, so that throughout the day, the same story was read in 14 different languages.
Gill was an EAL (English as an Additional Language) teacher and has promoted the importance of bilingualism and valuing other languages throughout her career. She says 'As an EAL teacher you are able to grade language easily according to the level of the English learner, avoiding words, expressions and tenses that can cause confusion. 'Mungo Makes New Friends' is written with simple grammatical structures. There is repetition to create rhythm which makes it a good book to read aloud in any language and there is alliteration in the English version. The illustrations help with vocabulary.'
'I have always believed that sharing stories with children is a great base for language development. If parents/carers read this book to their children, I want them also to talk together about the illustrations, predict what might happen before they turn the page, learn new vocabulary and retell the story in their own words, in their own language. I hope it encourages children to read and have fun with language and learn some new words.'
'Mungo Makes New Friends' is sound enabled, when used with PENpal, the device reads out the text in English with Ann Morgan-Thomas as the narrator, or your chosen language. It can also record your own voice.
The themes of the book are friendship and teamwork which are not only important for young children, but for adults too. Indeed it was friendship and teamwork which got Gill to the event. Her best friend , Diane Elliott, spotted the article about the opening of the multilingual children's section in 'The Star' last November and forwarded it to Gill. Gill and Diane are both originally from Rotherham. Gill forwarded the article to her publisher Mantra Lingua, who contacted Sabine. Mantra Lingua, very generously decided to donate copies of 'Mungo Makes New Friends' to the library and so Sabine and her network organised a Readathon. Gill's cousin, Chris Wragg, who lives in Sheffield, offered accommodation and help with the craft activities.
From top left clockwise- Dr Sabine Little, Gill Aitchison, Diane Elliott , Chris Wragg
Gill is currently writing a sequel to 'Mungo Makes New Friends', the clue is in the last sentence of the book!
Thank you to everyone who came along to the Readathon, those who've donated to the collection and of course borrowed from the collection. If you're interested in reading children's books in other languages, we hope you'll come down to check out the collection very soon.
Blog post written by
Library and Information Assistant
Library and Information Assistant