Insight or Perspective: What makes a children’s book good?

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By Eleni Elefterias

Which books to choose for your children and how to present them and read them to your children is another matter. You cannot just hand a child a book and expect they will enjoy it, even though there are always exceptions. 

A book, especially one that may be challenging or foreign to a child should be unravelled in order to be enjoyed. 

As promised last week, I will give you some examples of good children’s books for learning Greek and for keeping up Greek cultural traditions or simply to show children more about Greece. 

Firstly, there are no perfect books. Some will be good for Greek and others for English. Some will have wonderful illustrations, but weaker text and others will have great text but lack imagination in the Illustrations.

Children need to be inspired by both the text and the illustrations. Sometimes it is good to leave out parts if the text if it is too complicated for the age of the child. Simplify it. Go back to it later when the child understands more and read it again.

Repetition is the key. Young children love to repeat the same story again and again. They may even learn it off by heart or may be able to retell it in their own words.

A few local authors of bilingual books are Yannis Nikolakopoulos of Grammatakia publishers who has two books out, The Greek Salad and The Alpha in Athens, Anthea Matthews with the book, A Holiday in Greece, with exceptional illustrations, Catch That Cat by Melina Mallos (separate English abd Greek versions) and My Grandma is A Musician, by the writer of this opinion piece.

Keep an eye out for a new bilingual children’s storybook about to come out by Greek Australian, local author Yota Krili called Fairytales from Near and Far with the English translation by Anna Couani. All books available on www.bilingualbookshop.com.au

*Eleni Elefterias-Kostakidis is a teacher of Modern Greek, a University lecturer and the author of the bilingual children’s book ‘My Grandma is a Musician – Η γιαγιά μου είναι μουσικός’ 

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