Eindhoven’s city library and language group network HLE are supporting the Nationale Voorleesdagen (national story telling days) with a vengeance by having this year’s official book read aloud in no fewer than 17 languages (including Dutch).
The Voorleesdagen, which run until February 3, is an annual event aimed at promoting reading to children aged up to six.
Help! A surprise!, the book chosen for this year’s storytelling days is about August the fox who is living in dread of the surprises prepared for him by his mate squirrel Suzy but which may not turn out as badly as he thinks.
The Eindhoven initiative includes reading sessions in Chinese, Japanese, Ukrainian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, German, Persian, Spanish, Romanian, French, English, Polish, Hungarian and Dutch.
HLE, which aims to improve and increase opportunities for multilingual children to develop the language they speak at home, said reading together with family in the home language is a great way to encounter new words. It is also a way to discover stories from the home culture, and to foster a life-long love of reading for the multilingual children in Eindhoven.
Gisi Cannizzaro, managing director of HLE, said parents should not worry that reading to children in their home language interferes with their Dutch language skills. “This is at the top of our list of misconceptions,” Cannizzaro told Dutch News. “A love of reading can develop in any language. It will encourage a love of books, including Dutch books.
Cannizzaro also said that the event “showcases the rich diversity of languages in Eindhoven”, and applauded the willingness of language groups to collaborate. “There was no arm twisting to get everyone to help,” she said, with some groups already organising regular reading aloud sessions.
“For some children it is the first time they will be read to in their own language in a public space,” she said. “It’s great for their self-confidence.”
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