Sabha 2011 – Writing Bilingual Books

The month of March was a fantastic one for us. We held two literary conferences called Sabha in Bangalore in Delhi. The Bangalore conference was about ‘The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content for Children‘ while the Delhi conference was about ‘Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers‘.
Kanchan Bannerjee, Trustee-Pratham Books, talks about her experience of writing bilingual books for children.
Pratham Books: Bihar Reading Improvement Program
During all my visits to Akshara foundation Balwadis run by Akshara Foundation, over the years, the disparity between a ‘Nursery school’ and our Balwadi was apparent. Not just in the physical aspects, but also the aspirations of both the stakeholders – the little ones as well as the Balwadi Volunteer.. Many a times I have been asked , “We want to teach English also to the children, how do we go about it?” The obvious first choice is teaching children rhymes, which was happening already. This is when I thought of writing bi-lingual books for beginning readers.
I have written a set of four books, with just one line of text in English on each page, in large font size; and the translation in the local language is at the bottom of the same page. The characters (Munna, Raju, Suma, etc) run common through the four books. Very simple English words and sentence structures have been used, so that the child as well as the care-giver find it easy to understand. The story should first be read out completely in the language in which the child is familiar, then the English version of the story should be read out. It is possible that the child will need help even to read the vernacular text.
There has been encouraging response from the field people and I think bilingual books work best with young readers. And finally it is two books for the price of one!
Also read :

Sabha 2011 – Why We Held This Literary Meet


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