Meet the authors behind the 6-month-long collaborative campaign to support multilingual families!

[ 0 ] 22/07/2021 |

In this blog post, I’d like to introduce you to some of the amazing authors -not everyone has been available- behind the 6-month-long collaborative campaign to support multilingual families. They’ve all been so kind to offer the ebook editions of many, if not all, of their books to download for free on the 1st of each month till October in 30+ languages in an effort to support multilingual families like ours! In this mini-interview, we will get to know them better. If you also have a question, let us know in the comments field :).

Elisavet Arkolaki (that’s me, the mum behind maltamum.com)
Books: Cousins Forever (several bilingual editions), Happiness Street (several bilingual editions), How to Raise Confident Multicultural Children, Where am I from?, Together They Blossomed

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Curious, Learner, Love Words and Language, Traveler, Resilient, Committed, Mother.

Which languages do you speak?
Greek, English, French, some basic Norwegian (A2-B1 level), and I can read/understand a tiny bit of Spanish.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
Children’s books play a primary role in the literacy development of our children and early exposure offers them a significant advantage (I have expanded a bit on this topic in the chapter “The stories you should tell your multicultural kid every day” in my book “How to Raise Confident Multicultural Children“).

Bilingual books in particular, or dual language books as they’re also known, play a vital role both in the classroom and at home. They can be used as a teaching tool to help children to become fully multilingual or help them transition from one language to another, and also support language learners both culturally and linguistically. Having a background in foreign languages and translation myself, I recognize that the quality of the translation(s) in such books is paramount. It cannot be too literal, otherwise, the integrity of a story is at risk, but at the same time, it needs to be as accurate as possible.

Bilingual books can also help practice vocabulary, verbs conjugation, writing, and so much more. Lots of activities can stem from bilingual books. In the case of my bilingual books, they’re always tied with a fun, creative activity for the children to try out once they’re done reading. Reading books together in all our languages can be a fun, bonding, and rewarding experience both for the adult(s) and the child(ren), and kids learn best when they’re having a good time.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
I hope they will enjoy reading them, get creative once they close the book(s), and be inspired in general, and be inspired, in particular, to keep up with and fully embrace their different languages. I also hope these books will help open a dialogue with their parents about topics that are crucial to families like ours. Eventually, I’d like kids to be able to recognize how their horizons are expanded thanks to languages and diverse cultural awareness that stems from being able to understand more than one language. They’re blessed to have been given the gift of bilingualism / multilingualism.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
My aspiration is that I will have written and published lots of children’s books within the next 5 years and that they will have been proven to be helpful for multilingual families, language teachers, children. 10 years from now, I would like to have written and published a historical novel that has been within me for decades. Maybe a short story collection for adults as well. Who knows? I love reading and writing in different genres. As an adult, my first public writings were blog posts, later on, articles for magazines and newspapers, translations, and, now, books. I’ve done lots of different things when it comes to work, but the common thread has always been working with words. I hope I will get established as a writer in the long run, and only work with literature for a living.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
We had friends over for dinner a couple of days ago, and the conversation was taking place both in English and Norwegian. It wasn’t so much of a funny incident, but more of a funny revelation – both me and Silvia, my Brazilian friend whom I met at the Norwegian language course, had an aha moment when we realized we could understand most of the conversation going on in Norwegian, even though we were replying back in English. The conversation was flowing!

Contact details: FB group Elisavet Arkolaki’s Behind The Book Club, FB page MaltaMum, Email liza @ maltamum.com

Marisa Taylor
Books: Happy Within (several bilingual editions)

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Mother of two, passionate about being a Mom, languages & travel.

Which languages do you speak?
I speak German, English, Spanish, Portuguese & French.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
Having grown up in a bilingual household, but also having taught myself 3 other languages, I know that bilingual resources are so helpful when it comes to learning another language. The visual bilingual books especially, as your brain can easily remember words connected to images/colour more than just seeing words.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
That is always a tough question as I am not even sure what we are doing next week. 😉 Ideally publishing more bilingual books & bilingual resources to help families learn another language together. While at the same time promoting diversity & inclusion.

Contact details: IG @lingobabies Email hello@jetlifebaby.com

Onaolapo Dagunduro
Books: My Big Welcome (in English and French), Not So Thankful for Thanksgiving

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
I am an author mom who finds a way to entertain kids with a new story.

Which languages do you speak?
I speak English, some French, and Yoruba.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
I hope kids learn through my books that they have the power to make the world a better place.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
In 5 years, I see myself with over 20 books in my new series!

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
I watch cartoons with my kids… a lot. One evening, I decided to watch tv after the kids had gone to bed. A few minutes in, I realized I was just watching the kids’ cartoons!

Contact details:
Website: www.onaolapo.ca
Email: connect@onaolapo.ca
Instagram: @onaolapo.ca

Auxi Benitez
Books: The Paraguay Christmas Book (in English with Spanish Christmas vocabulary), My Brother Is On His Way, Welcome to Paraguay

Video interview here!


Alma Hammond Jeffers
Books: Serafina vuela, Serafina Soars, Bo the Bat, Catterfly is Born, Catterfly Grows a Garden, Zetta the Poinsettia, The Christmas Bunny’s Wild Adventure, André the Five-Star Cat, Super Rooster and Wonder Cat

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
A giving friend who loves to read, travel, and learn!

Which languages do you speak?
English and French.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
All my books have an educational component woven into an engaging story promoting self-esteem. My hopes are that children will enjoy reading my books again and again and of course, grasp some of the elements of the educational and social lessons.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
In the near-term, I would like to complete a 7-book series about misunderstood animals that also teach valuable social lessons, called “Learn and Love.” In the long-term, I hope to be inspired to write as many books as possible, including some fiction works for adult readers.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
In France, you are often visited by neighbor cats. One day I came home and nearly tripped on one of them on the second floor of my home. This is a typical scenario in France. Cats belong to everyone. We have named all our neighbor cats and enjoy seeing them no matter where they end up on our property – Orea, Rocky Road, Spinx, and Excalibur.


Andrea López Olatunji
Books: Guillo, el armadillo, Omar, el jaguar

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Honest, hardworking, candid, creative, active, aware, spiritual, global, loving, sensible.

Which languages do you speak?
I speak Spanish, English, Portuguese, and some German. I understand French and Italian.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
We need bilingual books because we need to instill a global mindset in children. We need to help them understand that there are different languages, cultures, and lifestyles and that they are all valuable and interesting.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
My mission with my books is basically what I mentioned in question #3.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
In five years, I see myself reaching out to families and educators with my books to help them raise bilingual children. I see myself carrying out workshops to help teachers incorporate my books into their curriculum. I see myself connecting with more and more fellow authors and institutions in enriching relationships.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
The funniest thing that happened to me recently is that while sleeping over at my sister’s house in Uruguay, the bedroom door got stuck and I was locked inside the room for hours. Well, not so funny in the moment but…

Contact details: Website www.cuentacuento.com There you will find all her social media links and her email. She also has a Youtube channel (Andrea Olatunji) and you can follow her on Amazon (Andrea Olatunji).

Ingo Blum
Books: Where Is My Little Dog?, Where Is My Little Elephant?, Where Is My Little Dragon?, Where Is My Little Crocodile?, Molly and the Mermaids, Fly, Little Bird!, Don’t Be Scared!, The Flying Tree, Little Bird is Afraid of Height, Riverboat Series Chapter Books, Lee the Flea, Nelly’s Funny Birthday Surprise, Our Wonderful Colorful Highway, Bridget Knotterfield and the Hiccup Fantasy Trees, Pink The Painter, Are You Scared?, BIG – A Little Story About Respect And Self-Esteem, Stars Shine, The Tale of Maude and Moody and the Giant Tomato (available in several bilingual editions + coloring books)

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
As an author, I always try to give children the freedom to let their imagination run wild. A child’s dream could ignite the spark that changes the world.

Which languages do you speak?
I speak German, English, and French. I plan to learn Spanish as well soon.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
Children are born with an innate sense of curiosity. We should give them the tools they need to turn their curiosity into discovery. That includes the languages to explore an all-connected world. With bilingual children’s books, you set them up for success and expand their horizons from an early age!

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
My dual-language stories are specifically designed to teach children new foreign words and phrases as you read to them, as well as the ability to learn new cultures.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
One kid asked me if I also speak all the languages in my books. Well – never thought about it. I publish in 8 languages. Would be happy to speak at least half of them.

Contact details:
You can visit Ingo on bit.ly/ingoblum
www.facebook.com/ingoblumauthor/
Pinterest and Instagram: ingosplanet
and get some FREE books at bit.ly/5freebooks

Cyrena Shows
Books: El sueño del Hada del Río: Un cuento de hadas, Sailor’s Christmas Sweater, The River Fairy’s Wish: A Lyrical Fairy Tale, The River Fairy’s Dream: A Fairy Tale, The Mystery of the Wooden Box, The Eerie Beach Light, Where is Bob Tom?: The Story of a Rambling Cat, Shoo, I Love You: A Bedtime Story, This Book Needs a Nap, This Book Needs a Laugh, Embrace the Beauty: A Collection of Poetry, Flash Fiction, and Short Stories, Prom at Carol High: A Ghost Play, Gratitude Attitude: A Christ-Centered Self-Reflection Journal and Sketchbook


How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Creative, nurturing mother and educator with passion and commitment

Which languages do you speak?
Only English fluently, though I’ve also studied Spanish and French.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
I chose to have my book translated into Spanish because so many people in the U.S. speak and read Spanish. I wanted the story to be accessible to more children. I wanted those who speak Spanish to be able to enjoy this beautiful book, too. I hope to have it translated into other languages, as well, so it can reach more readers.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
I want children to gain a love for reading. That’s at the heart of The River Fairy’s Dream—Princess Crystal falls in love with the idea of books and wants to become a little girl so she can read these magical stories.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
I hope to have a huge backlist of lots of wonderful books for kids and adults, audiobooks, translations, etc. In 10 years, I plan to be writing full-time and retired from teaching.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
My eight-year-old loves ballet. I have never taken a ballet class and know nothing about it. Well, she was trying to do a double-twirl in the living room one night. It looked easy, and I decided that I could surely do it, too. Because I’d been sitting on the couch with my foot under my leg, my sweaty foot gripped the floor instead of sliding around as it should, and I lost my balance and ended up sprawled out on the tile floor. Thankfully, nothing was broken except my ego.

Contact details:
www.CSCShows.com
www.facebook.com/cscshows
www.instagram.com/csshows


Madly Chatterjee
Books: The Children of Slowville: Les Enfants de Slowville Book 1, The Children of Slowville: Les Enfants de Slowville (bilingual in English and French)

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
I’m a dreamer … but I’m not the only one…

Which languages do you speak?
French, English, Spanish.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
Because we live in a multilingual society where more and more people speak one, two, or even three languages at home, bilingual publications are necessary. We require books that reflect the multilingual world we live in.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
Through the adventures of the Children of Slowville, I hope to kindle interest in the hearts and minds of young readers, the idea of a new world which gives its rightful place to the living world, where there is a profound respect for nature which in turn ensures that protecting this living planet becomes dear to their heart.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
I only hope that in 5 or 10 years, the timid dreams of yesterday grow to be even bigger than I could have imagined.

Contact details:
Website: www.madlychatterjee.com Email: info@madlychatterjee.com
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/thechildrenofslowville
Instagram Author page: https://www.instagram.com/madly.chatterjee/
Facebook group “Easy French For Children”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/695478558033926


Ute Limacher-Riebold
Co-author of Books: The Toolbox for Multilingual Families, The Toolbox for Multilingual Families: Workbook

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Communicator, Curious, Interculturalist, Language Lover, Learner, Listener, Mother, Researcher, Understanding, Writer (in alphabetical order).

Which languages do you speak?
I speak German, Italian, French, English, Swiss German, Dutch, some Italian dialects, Spanish and I am learning Korean, Japanese, and Norwegian.

What do you wish that parents will take out of your books?
I hope parents are inspired by our suggestions and prompts, to adapt our activities and games to their own languages. Ana and I share 123 activities and games in our Toolbox for Multilingual Families that we enjoyed ourselves. We recently added the Workbook that allows parents to keep track of what worked and what they want to implement. I believe everyone will find activities and games they will enjoy. 

Not one family is the same and every family deserves their very own way to transmit (and maintain) their languages and spending quality time in a fun and entertaining way that fosters language and communication is, in my experience, the best way to do this.

I know that motivation plays a fundamental role, and staying curious and engaged in improving what we know is important not only when fostering languages, but all our skills.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
I am writing another book about raising children with multiple languages across cultures and working on a series of courses on the same topic. I am drafting books for multilingual teenagers and young adults, that aim to inspire our teenagers to welcome more languages into their life. As I never run out of ideas on how to support parents who live abroad and raise their children with multiple languages and cultures – I’d need a day of 80 hours at least to realize them all – so I hope I’ll be able to realize at least part of them in the next 10ish years.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
I wouldn’t say it was “funny” but it was interesting with regards to what I call our multilingual perspective and particularly the open mindset that comes with knowing several languages and their cultures.

We had friends visiting the other day with whom we share 4-5 languages. We were constantly switching from Italian to English, some German and Spanish here and there, and French. We talked about our children – 5 teenagers (my 3 children plus 2 friends of my son who spent the week with us) – who all speak multiple languages and emphasized the advantage they have with regards to their choice for education, University, jobs worldwise. 

We pointed out that two of them (my son and their son) are adding Japanese to the list. They are learning Japanese just because they are interested in the language and culture. There is no fear of failure or to sound awkward. We shared that we, parents love Ghibli animes too and that the curiosity of our children has influenced us, parents, to such an extent that we are learning the language too now. 

We spent 3 hours (!) sharing what we know about the language, the culture, and the history that relates Japanese to Dutch, Portuguese and Chinese – one of the parents being Chinese. We discussed similarities between Chinese and Japanese, the writing systems, etc., as well as English terms that entered the Chinese and Japanese vocabulary. I found it interesting to see how curious we all are towards finding out what unites the languages and cultures, what fascinates us, and what we still want to learn. 

If we model a multilingual mindset and foster curiosity towards other languages and cultures, it can become natural for us and our children to add more languages and cultures. And we, parents, can make the fantastic experience to follow our children’s lead. 


Note: I interviewed Ute in the past as well, and you can read that interview here.

Contact details:
Website: https://utesinternationallounge.com/
Facebook page: Ute’s International Lounge
Facebook groups: Ute’s International Lounge , Multilingual Families
Youtube: Ute’s International Lounge


Natalia Sepulveda
Books: Kai The Missionary Sea Turtle – Kai la tortuga marina misionera

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Christian, Mom, Wife, Author, Translator, Editor, Bilingualism, and Education Advocate.

Which languages do you speak?
Spanish, English, and some German.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
As a mother raising bilingual children in the United States, I have noticed the lack of bilingual resources. Bilingual books are so helpful for parents like me. Many times, I find myself translating while reading books to my children, which may take longer depending on the story. Having children read the text in both languages helps their language learning development. It encourages them to be bilingual. The more resources available the more the child will be more likely to be fully bilingual and proud of their heritage or of both languages they speak. Unfortunately, many parents including family members did not have these resources, and their children do not speak Spanish or decide not to speak it as they may feel embarrassed of their pronunciation or of not being able to be fully bilingual. Some feel like they cannot fit in during their family gatherings since they do not speak Spanish. It is very difficult to raise bilingual children, especially when all their Spanish-speaking friends prefer to speak English and not Spanish. The idea of having bilingual books and resources at an early age and on can help them become excited and proud of being Bilingual!

What do you wish that children will take out of your book?
I hope that my book will be a good bilingual Christian resource that will inspire children to speak English and Spanish, love missions, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone they know.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
My vision is to continue being a Bilingualism and Education advocate while serving the Lord, being more active in missions, and supporting missionaries through our family business Panem Project (panemproject.com). I hope to continue translating and editing children’s books. I also aspire to have more books published, especially with my bilingual book Kai The Missionary Sea Turtle.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
During our summer vacation a few weeks ago, I was on a ferry boat to the island of Culebra next to Puerto Rico and the movement of the waves got me to almost fly off my seat twice. I felt like I was going to float in space. Good thing I was holding on to the armrest. Everyone was watching!

Contact details:
Website: www.bilinguallifestyle.com
FB: www.facebook.com/bilinguallifestyle
IG: www.instagram.com/bilingual_lifestyle
Email: bilinguallifestyle@gmail.com


Ana Elisa Miranda
Co-author of Books: The Toolbox for Multilingual Families, The Toolbox for Multilingual Families: Workbook

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
I’m a quiet, brave, and resilient teacher, writer, mom, learner.  

Which languages do you speak?
Brazilian Portuguese is my mother tongue. When I was 9 I started learning English (and never stopped). It’s the language I use most often these days. I also understand and speak Dutch and French on different levels.  

What do you wish that parents will take out of your books?
I hope they feel empowered and supported. Raising multilingual children requires commitment, resourcefulness, consistency, and much more. The Toolbox for Multilingual Families offers so many ideas to choose from, to practice language skills in an engaging way. However, it is not a prescriptive book. The ideas can (and should) be adapted to each unique home.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
Tough question, I don’t tend to fix goals far in the future. But I hope to continue teaching, supporting parents and writing.

Aditi Wardhan Singh
Books: How Our Skin Sparkles, Sparkles of Joy, Small or Tall, We Sparkle After All, Strong Roots Have No Fear: Empowering Children to Thrive in a Multicultural World with Intuitive Parenting, Raising the Global Mindset: Parenting Essays by Thought Leaders Around the World to Empower Children

I had the pleasure of interviewing Aditi a while back, and you can read that interview here.

Katherine Morbán-Smith
Books: Brandon and His Mask – Brandon y Su Mascarilla


How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Organized, nurturing, mother, educator, dreamer, firm yet flexible, learner, advocate.

Which languages do you speak?
English and Spanish fluently.

Why do we need bilingual books for children?
As a dual language teacher, I have seen the value of and the need for more bilingual books first-hand. Families can participate and be involved in what their children are reading/learning. They also can connect through the joy of reading. I have also seen how vital bilingual books can be for students who are learning a second language, say English. Reading a story in their native language and having the translation side by side on the same page helps them participate in the classroom and learn. However, I believe there is a need for more original bilingual books representing different communities and their linguistic diversity.

What do you wish that children will take out of your books?
My book, “Brandon and His Mask” explores the recent Covid-19 pandemic and what young children everywhere were experiencing at the beginning of the pandemic. The sudden changes, like wearing a mask and the way their surroundings began to look different, brought upon so many feelings of uncertainty. My goal was to help children and their families understand that they were not alone. With this and future books, I aim to normalize the emotions brought upon challenging experiences. I am currently writing the second book in the “Brandon” series. I cannot wait to launch it as it is related to a tough but very real theme of this pandemic. I am sure it will help many children and their families.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
Currently, I have taken a break from teaching to dedicate all of my time to my young child and family. However, in 5, 10 years from now, I hope to be back in the classroom. I want to bring the process of writing a children’s book to my future students, perhaps through the writer’s workshop. I immigrated from the Dominican Republic as a young child. However, I didn’t feel represented in the books I read or in the authors who wrote the books in my classroom. This affected my interest in reading, and I know this is the case for so many children. Bringing the publishing process to the classroom could empower children to become our future authors, share their stories, and feel represented.

Share with us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently. Most of my recent belly laughs have resulted from something my 3-year old has said or done. A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to the mall. My son asked me to get him a toy from those vending machines that make you go fishing for the toys. I said, “No, sweetie. I have no money. I’m broke.” My son replied, “Oh. Let’s ask daddy! He’s not broken. He’s fixed.” I still can’t stop laughing.

Contact details: IG https://instagram.com/brandonandhismask, Email kmsauthor@gmail.com, Website https://katherinemorbansmith.com

Category: Uncategorized

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