• Sabine Little

I Can Read, and Not Just in English

Updated: Jan 24, 2018

The Sheffield Winter Gardens were transformed into a multilingual reading corner as part of the Festival of Social Sciences. Books in 40+ languages, cushions, story cubes and blankets waited for families to enjoy sharing stories in languages other than English.

Every hour on the hour, PhD students from the School of Education shared books and stories with visitors, including in German, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic and Twi. Visitors also had the opportunity to express interest in becoming involved in one of two current research studies, one of them directly linked to multilingual reading, and funded by the UK Literacy Association.

As well as enjoying stories, the event was used to disseminate ideas for multilingual families to share stories in the home language:

Ideas for sharing stories in your home language

  1. Check out your local library, and ask librarians to help you find books in your home language.

  2. Pick books without words, and tell the story to your child in the home language (they can tell it back to you, too).

  3. Play with "story cubes" - these are like dice, with small pictures on each side, which you and your child can use to make up stories.

  4. Make up stories one sentence at a time: one person starts, the other continues. Take it in turns until you reach the end.

  5. Use trips home (or friends visiting) to gather books and other materials in the home language.

  6. Take pictures and make up your own stories (there are apps to help with this, or just print off photos, if you can).

  7. Ask among friends, family and the local community to organise multilingual book-swaps and sales.

  8. Organise a "story interview" - help children to interview older family or community members to share oral stories, write them down or audio record them. If you can, collect the stories and share them with other members of the community.