The Multilingual Children's Library

The Multilingual Children's Library is an example of what can happen when a community pulls together. The project began when I organised a multilingual storytelling event in November 2017, as part of the Festival of Social Science. The project disseminated my work on a UK Literacy Association-funded research project, looking at young children's views of themselves as multilingual and multiliterate. During the event, we had a pop-up multilingual library with a snuggly reading corner, and 'Multilingual Storytelling Every Hour, On the Hour', thanks to a bunch of wonderful doctoral students. 

During the event, I spoke to countless families about how much they wished their languages were more visible in society, and how they lacked access to resources. Trying to create a hub for multilingual families, we repeated the event for World Book Day 2018, in March, at the Central Children's Library. I had invited anybody with books to spare to bring, sell, or swap them. In the event, most who had books were simply trying to find good homes for them, rather than trying to get money for them, and, at the end of the day, I found myself with books needing a good home. When I first suggested a multilingual children's section to the library, the staff couldn't have been more supportive. The library launched in November 2018, with the help of Lord David Blunkett, and performances from local heritage language schools. As well as the library's existing stock of bilingual picture books, we received wonderful donations from authors, illustrators, translators, publishers, heritage language schools, and the general public.

Thanks to the Arts and Humanities Research Council, I was able to attract funding for a research project, focusing on the initial phase of the library, and making it possible to launch a reading scheme with custom illustrations, making sure children feel visually represented by the imagery around *their* library.

There are a number of resources linked to the project which will go up on this page in due course - in the meantime, please check out the Blog for the most recent posts linked to the Multilingual Children's Library Project.

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