Today’s choice honours the fact it’s Emma’s first day at primary school today but also offers an opportunity to explore something a little different. Today’s book is a dual-language book called Tom and Sofia start School by Henriette Barkow and Priscilla Lamont, translated into Malayalam by Dr. Lizy James (Mantra Lingua).
Emma: Tom makes some new friends and I’m going to make some new friends too.
This book was sent to Emma by a friend whose husband is a Malayalam speaker. In the book, Tom and Sofia are getting prepared for their first day at school. The story follows them on their journey to school and the different experiences they encounter on their first day – familiar scenes for many children. Each section of text on a page is written in both English and Malayalam and we enjoyed looking at the beautiful, unfamiliar script, wondering which words corresponded to which English words. We enjoyed discussion about how other people write and about other languages.
I researched a bit more about Mantra Lingua and on their website they state their publishing philosophy is to “reflect the multilingual nature of today’s society”. In this book this is indeed apparent: the class Tom and Sofia go into has a real ethnic mix of children, some wearing religious attire. Having bemoaned the lack of BAME characters earlier in the challenge, there is no shortage in this book. And it goes further still, including a boy in a wheelchair. What I particularly like is that none of these children has any great attention drawn to them. They are just normal members of the class.
I was also interested to read on Mantra Lingua’s website about their expansion in the German market using books to help integrate new arrivals in the country, combining German with languages like Arabic, Turkish, Farsi and Kurdish. The power of books!