Category Archives: Libraries

International Folktale Character: Mamy Wata

 

 

Woohoo!  It’s almost summer!  Let’s go SWIMMING! Did you bring your bathing suit?  Oh yeah…um…I totally left it at home…plus you know, I ate less than half an hour ago…I don’t want to get a cramp…

You’re looking decidedly shifty. What’s the real reason you don’t want to go swimming?  Ok, to be honest, it’s because I’ve been doing some reading up on popular African deity Mamy Wata.

Who?  Mamy Wata, which means “Mother Water”.  She’s a water entity worshipped by many people in West, Central and Southern Africa and in the African diaspora around the world.  She’s known for her powers of divination and clairvoyance, and her seductive but protective nature. She also goes by Mamadjo, Maman de l’Eau, La Sirene, Yemanya, Yemoja…I could go on…

What does she look like?  She’s a serpent priestess or mermaid with long, curly black hair who often carries a mirror, comb, or watch.  She can also appear fully human and stroll through the streets and markets.

Why should all this stop you from swimming?  Well, she could abduct me.  She’s very into abducting both her followers and random people while they’re swimming or boating.

Why would she do that?  She would bring me to her realm in the spirit world underwater.  When I returned I’d be completely dried off and I’d have new spiritual understanding.  I might even grow wealthier, more attractive, and more easy-going.

You know what, that doesn’t sound so bad.  Yeah, I guess not!  But she might also haunt my dreams and demand my everlasting faithfulness to her.  Like water itself, she is both good (she can protect you and cure you from your illnesses) and bad (she can be dangerous and cause illness too).  She generally wants her followers to be healthy and well-off but is also associated with fatally strong undertows.

Sounds like I should make sure I keep her happy if I happen to meet up with her.  What kind of gift would she like?  Having emerged and gained popularity during a time of great trade and wealth for Africa, Mamy Wata loves her trinkets and baubles.  She is a real capitalist deity and adores anything shiny, expensive, and modern.  She’ll also happily accept perfume, alcohol, delicious food, Coca Cola, and anything with a designer label.  Her largely matriarchal priesthood and her initiates worship her by dancing feverishly until they fall into a trance, so she might appreciate it if you try your hand at that too. 

I haven’t seen you dancing yourself into another state of being lately.  How did you hear about her?  Her legends were brought to America by slaves.  In fact, her worship was recorded (and outlawed) by Dutch slavers in the 18th century.  But she must surely have seemed to retain her power as the slaves fought back swamp waters on New World plantations. 

Anything else I need to know before I strap on my goggles and flippers?  Just make sure you’re keeping your eyes peeled for her at all times; in southern Africa people believe she can fly around in a tornado, so keeping dry won’t necessarily save you!

 

Don’t say: Are you a manatee or a mermaid?

Do say: Where can I read more? 

Language Lizard carries Mamy Wata and the Monster in many popular languages.

 

Our Personal Shoppers are at Your Service!

We are pleased to announce that Language Lizard is now offering a complimentary Personal Shopper Service to simplify ordering of bilingual books, multilingual posters, and teacher resources.
You gave us your feedback, and we heard you!  Many of you are trying to support language learners but don’t have the time to look through our site to select specific titles. Now you can make your life easier by working with one of our Personal Shoppers, who will listen to your requirements, find the right products, and place a “pre-order” for your review. You can make any changes you wish before you approve or submit to a purchasing department as part of an official school/library purchase order.
To find out more about this service or to contact a Personal Shopper, please visit the Personal Shopper page on our website: www.languagelizard.com

As a reminder, we continue to offer Language Book Sets in specific languages to simplify ordering as well.

A New Way of Ordering Bilingual Books!

 

Language Lizard is thrilled to announce a new way of ordering your bilingual books: we now offer Language Book Sets!

Tailored to meet the language needs of teachers and librarians, they make ordering easy and eliminate the work of trawling through our site to find the perfect books for your classroom or library.

We’ve hand-selected groups of books based on our site’s most popular choices to support learning in each domain.  With just one click, you can even choose between sets of five and ten to match your curriculum.  On offer are books in:

  • Gujarati
  • Spanish
  • Chinese (both traditional and simplified)
  • Arabic
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
  • Haitian Creole
  • Bengali
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali

We hope this new system will save you time and money, and help you choose the most accessible, interesting, and culturally appropriate books for the children you want to reach.

Enjoy!

From Summer Slide…to Reading Pride!

photo credit: KOMUnews @flickr.com

“[Here] is what reading is all about: yes, it will make kids smarter and give them a better start in life than non-readers, but for me that’s not the point. The point is that reading is fun…”

This is a quote from a recent article in British newspaper The Guardian by Charlie Higson, author of a variety of YA fiction including the Young James Bond series. Sure, as a writer he might have a vested interest in promoting reading, but there is no denying the inherent truth of what he is saying. To get kids to read, and keep reading, particularly over the long summer months, it must be a pleasurable experience. This is definitely the point that we need to get across to children now that the sound of the school bell has faded and it seems like forever before the leaves start to turn and they’re back at their desks. Summer is for having fun, and that includes reading!

Bilingual Books and the Summer Learning Slide

Many families, teachers, and librarians worry about the summer learning slide, and with good reason. A study done by Reading Rockets found that for “116 first, second, and third graders in a school in a middle class neighborhood …the decoding skills of nearly 45% of the participants and the fluency skills of 25% declined between May and September.” Attention clearly needs to paid to reading over summer vacation if we are to combat this trend.

For families who want to renew their children’s enthusiasm for reading, bilingual books can add a new dimension. For families who speak a language other than English at home, bilingual books can be a comforting way to read in their home language while simultaneously building their English skills over the summer.

Here are some tips to help your children and students use bilingual books for having fun and improving their reading skills before September:

  • Start with an old favorite. A great access point for bilingual reading is a book your child already knows and loves. If he or she is a fan of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, reading it in English and then in French will make the new language seem less intimidating. Kids will enjoy matching up the French vocabulary with the pictures and English words they already know!

 There are also a variety of folktales and stories from around the world available in bilingual editions (English and another language text on the same page), so children who speak a different home language can also find stories that are familiar to them. A group of parents who want to encourage their children to become bilingual readers could find a set of books to swap throughout the summer, so no-one gets bored!

  • Become the star of your book. Bring your bilingual story to life by getting kids to act it out using words from the less familiar language. Not only is this fun, but the kinaesthetic element will help embed their new vocabulary. The creativity and freedom involved in this activity will go a long way towards helping children understand that reading is enjoyable and reading a new language is even more fun when you practice it together!
  • Make a scene! Why not try using cardboard and found objects to recreate a scene that you see in the bilingual book you’re reading? The kids can go on a hunt to gather what they need and then label the scene in both languages used in the book.
  • Talk it out. Start your own mini-book group, even with your pre-schoolers! This would be especially useful for parents who are trying to encourage their children to speak English alongside a different home language.

At school, children are used to discussing books. The question-and-answer structure will be familiar to them and therefore allow them to feel more comfortable and take more risks speaking their new language. Simple discussions about feelings and plot are great tools to help embed new vocabulary: “How does the explorer feel about the animals at the end of the book? What has changed?” “What were your favorite plants that you saw in the drawings?” See if you can get your children to answer in both languages. They’ll feel more involved in what they’ve read and excited to continue their literary journey!

  • Let a librarian help. Kristina Robertson from colorincolorado.org, a website dedicated to helping the families and educators of English/Dual Language Learners, writes, “Libraries offer all kinds of resources and opportunities to ELLs and their families, but many families may not know about the kinds of services and programs that libraries offer.” Well, summer is the time to check it out! Head to your local library and see what bilingual resources they have available. Many libraries also hold summer reading challenges (see the next tip) which can easily be adapted to support bilingual reading. Colorin Colorado provides a useful list of links to different programs in major cities – if yours isn’t on here, a quick search on the internet may also provide results.

Are you a librarian? For you, summer is a great time to reach out to the community and welcome ELLs into your stacks. As Robertson writes, many families are unaware of the great summer reading programs and bilingual resources you offer – so get some flyers translated and start sticking them up around town!

…And here’s a list of other great ways librarians are improving literacy for ELLs all over the country: http://www.languagelizard.com/newsarticle8.htm

  • Challenge yourself! Embrace your child’s competitive spirit and let them enter the Scholastic Summer Challenge. Kids log minutes and see “how far round the world” they can read – as a parent, you could log double for bilingual books as they’ve technically read them twice!
  • Banish “Are we there yet?”s. Ah, the long car ride- a breeding ground for “I’m boooored!”s or, worse, long silences broken only by the tapping of little fingers on a Nintendo DS! But it doesn’t have to be this way: find a bilingual children’s book on cd, or record your own as a podcast, and bring it with you on your way to Grandma’s to keep the kids entertained and prevent the dreaded summer learning slump.

Summer is such a perfect opportunity to show kids how much fun bilingual reading can be. How are you planning to use bilingual books to prepare your kids for the exciting year ahead at school?

For more ideas about summer literacy, check out the following Language Lizard blogs:

Summer Literacy Programs

AND

Bilingual Books for Summertime Reading

 

 

 

 

How Big is Your Daddy? Book Review of My Daddy is a GIANT

Buy My Daddy Is A Giant Today!
www.languagelizard.com

Book Review: My Daddy is a Giant
Written by Carl Norac
Illustrated by Ingrid Godon
Ages 1-5
Available in paperback and hard cover, depending on the language
Review by Maureen Pugh

The first thing I noticed about My Daddy is a Giant was its dimensions (8 ½ inches wide by 12 inches tall) and its sturdy cover and quality binding. The vertical format and large pages provide an ample backdrop for the illustrator to portray a little boy and his playful, larger-than-life father. The simple, yet boldly-drawn illustrations depict a sweet, loving relationship between father and son.

Everything about this book is big – from the sizeable type to the exaggerated perception this small child has of his father. After all, even the tired clouds sleep on his daddy’s shoulders! And when his daddy sneezes, “it blows the sea away.”

This daddy runs and plays hide-and-seek, and can “kick the ball as high as the moon.” Yet he also can be beaten at marbles as “his fingers are far too big.” The story conveys the absolute trust this little boy has that his daddy will keep him safe and that his daddy loves him with “all his giant heart.”

As a reader, I was charmed, and reminded of how I viewed my own father when I was very young – he was a giant!

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, please visit the My Daddy is a Giant webpage at: http://www.languagelizard.com/My_Daddy_is_a_Giant_p/dadhb.htm.

To see the difficulty level of these and other Language Lizard books, please visit our “Book Suggestions” page at http://www.languagelizard.com/images/Childrens_Bilingual_Books.pdf

Bilingual Book Promotion Launched on International Literacy Day!

To celebrate International Literacy Day, Language Lizard is launching its Bilingual Book Promotion which will last until the end of October.  Visit the Language Lizard website to learn more about this promotion and how you can receive free bilingual books!

The theme for the 2012 International Literacy Day is literacy and peace. As the UNESCO website states:

“Literacy contributes to peace as it brings people closer to attaining individual freedoms and better understanding the world, as well as preventing or resolving conflict. The connection between literacy and peace can be seen by the fact that in unstable democracies or in conflict-affected countries it is harder to establish or sustain a literate environment.”

Please join us in celebrating this wonderful day!

To learn more about the Language Lizard Bilingual Book Promotion, visit the Language Lizard website. You have until the end of October to win free bilingual books!

Bilingual Storytime: 5 Different Types

Nowadays many libraries and bookstores are delighting their patrons with storytimes. Children love the magic of a good book that is brought to life through the skills of a good presenter. It is an opportunity for children to travel to new places that have never been explored and to experience adventures that have never been undertaken.

The elements of a successful storytime are essential: A book with a great storyline, captivating pictures and an energetic presenter who is willing to act out the parts.  Poor stories, illustration or delivery can disappoint children who were hoping to be swept away.

In many places around the world, bilingual storytimes are becoming extremely popular. In addition to the basic criteria listed above, presenters must be attentive to the language mix of the target audience. Some storytimes are only in one language (e.g. Spanish or Chinese) while others have a more bilingual approach (e.g. using both English and Spanish during the same storytime). While some storytimes are intended to support the home language, others are focused on helping students learn a new language.

Here are 5 different types of storytimes that you might find in your school or community: Continue reading Bilingual Storytime: 5 Different Types

Bilingual Story Time at Your School Library

It’s free, it’s fun and it’s in your language: bilingual story time!

Across the United States libraries offer story times in a myriad of languages based on the demands of the community: Spanish, Russian, Gujarati, French, Japanese… just to name a few! Children sit wide-eyed in awe as an adult reads to them in their own language: Amazing! Someone other than my parents can speak and read my language – how exciting!

The only problem with story time for many children is that it is often targeted toward preschoolers and takes place in the middle of the day. What about school-age children? Wouldn’t they benefit from a bilingual story time as well?

Yes!

Bilingual children in particular would benefit greatly from a bilingual story time in their school. Not only would such a story time offer children who speak the same language the chance to gather, it would help with literacy, cultural appreciation and a sense of community. As we discussed in Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children, contrary to popular belief, reading out loud to children in their native languages does not negatively impact their English language literacy. In fact, it can help strengthen it in many ways.

Continue reading Bilingual Story Time at Your School Library

10 Ways to Use Bilingual Books with Children

Research continues to show that support for the home language is an essential element in supporting children’s academic skills. Parents who engage with their children in their home language through discussion, reading books out loud and in everyday activities help children to do better in school, even if the school language is different from the home language. This is in contrast to research many decades ago that encouraged parents to speak the community language at home with their children, believing this would strengthen their children’s academic language skills. We now know that this past research was flawed and that, in fact, the opposite is true.

Bilingual books are wonderful tools to help create a bridge between languages. They give teachers the opportunity to educate children in the school language, while at the same time they foster an appreciation for the home language. Bilingual books encourage parents to continue using their home language, knowing that it will benefit, not detract from, their children’s school language learning. Continue reading 10 Ways to Use Bilingual Books with Children