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

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By Eleni Elefterias

So, what makes a good bilingual book for our bilingual child?

Firstly, as we said last week, the theme must be age appropriate and the language at the correct level for the child. So, a book with an age range of 4 to 8 may be able to be read by the older child/or read by the parent to the younger child. 

As a way of telling what is appropriate for our Australian born children, language-wise, a Year 9 beginner may be at the same level as a Year one or two in Greece. Of course, you can’t give a 14 or 15-year-old a baby book to read so you need to find some Greek book or bilingual equivalent that helps to build up their vocabulary even if it is for a younger age range.

The illustrations are also important. Pictures that only reflect the text can be boring. The best books are the ones with multiple layers. Lookup a book on google called “Rosie the Hen went for a walk”, and you will see what I mean. 

There are some good locally produced bilingual books that strive to add more value to the reader as a Greek language teaching tool while making the storyline and illustrations fun. “The Greek Salad” and  “Alpha in Athens” by Yannis Nikolakopoulos are examples of good bilingual books.  

My first bilingual book “My Grandma is a musician – Η Γιαγιά μου είναι μουσικός” has also just been released. The book includes a QR code with access to a reading of the book in both languages, and the song.

As a teacher of Modern Greek, a lot of thought has gone into the vocabulary used. We need to give children the chance to acquire vocabulary that is challenging, unlike so many young children’s books that repeat the same words. Linguistically it has been checked by Dr Panayota Nazou who has volunteered her time to help me create a good bilingual Greek teaching resource.

Next week we change focus to talk about what is happening with Modern Greek in Australia, the role of our Associations and how we can all help keep Greek alive.

READ MORE: Part Nine – How do we select a good children’s book for our bilingual child?

*Eleni Elefterias-Kostakidis is a teacher of Modern Greek and University lecturer. 

Read Eleni Elefterias’ column ‘Insight or Perspective’ in Greek, every Saturday in The Greek Herald’s print edition or get your subscription here.

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