In November 1999, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation) proclaimed February 21st as International Mother Tongue Day, in a bid to transform education by encouraging multilingual education. International Mother Tongue Day aims to celebrate the different mother languages that make each child unique. There are many books that support middle and secondary school children in their mother tongues.
Behind every pupil is a familial culture, expressed through a unique language. It’s unfortunate how many teachers find that many children have difficulties understanding lessons in a language other than their own. Their mother language should be recognized and celebrated within the educational setting.
Books That Come In Various Mother Tongues
Blancaflor: La Heroína Con Poderes Secretos: Un Cuento De Latinoamérica (Blancaflor: The hero with secret powers)
This popular Spanish language story centers around one strong, independent female character’s superpowers. Blancaflor is raised by a mean and unkind father who often reminds her not to show her powers as it may frighten away suitors. Soon after, a Prince falls from the sky. When he wakes up, Blancaflor is astonished and goes to extreme lengths to help the prince in his quest. This is an update of a classic tale revolving around the positive attributes of women. Children of the ages 11-12 will want to read about superheroes with magic powers and princes. The Spanish language will display a part of Spanish culture that children can grow towards a diverse mindset with.
Italian Short Stories: Racconti Italiano (New Penguin Parallel Text Series)
Ages: 12-13 year olds
This collection of Italian short stories is suitable for students in Year 8 to read (12-13 year olds). It includes 8 literary pieces of fiction in both the Italian and English languages. This will promote bilingual reading/learning internationally. This bilingual literature book is excellent for Italian students looking to work on their English or even just enjoy some timeless classics of Italian literature. Authors of these stories include Calvino, Benni, Sciascia and Levi.
The Burmese Box: Two Novellas
Ages: 13-14 year olds
The Brumese Box is a set of two novellas written by Bengali author Leela Majumdar. The story centers around a young boy looking for a box full of treasures hidden in his place of residence. The box he finds has gold, pearls and diamonds nested within. This story will intrigue students as it centers around the discovery of treasures and a young boy’s dreams. The novels are suitable for year 9 students (aged 13-14).
Le journal d’Aurelie Laflamme (collection)
Ages: 14-15 years
Le journal d’Aurelie Laflamme is a series of French books written to appeal towards 14-15 year olds. The main character, Aurelie, a 14-year-old girl, feels she is different to everyone else. In addition, she is trying to find her place in the world and discover her identity. French students will be able to relate to the main character as they are discovering who they are and exploring their identity.
The Wandering Earth (Chinese) by Cixin Liu
Ages: 15-16 year olds
The Wandering Earth (Chinese) by Cixin Liu is a Chinese sci-fi novel. Suitable for 15-16 year olds, it tells the story of the risk of a possible ending to Earth. Scientists have predicted a helium flash from the sun. They attempt to propel Earth’s engines towards another planet for survival. During all this, there is chaos and confusion happening in towns. Many objects are disappearing, and people are confused. Young Chinese students will be interested in this story as it is based within an apocalyptic setting. The Chinese mother language is being explored in this book as Chinese students can pick up on the story concepts quite well.
International Mother Tongue Day aims to celebrate mother languages all over the globe. It is important to educate and stimulate the creativity of children by providing them with literature and learning resources that they can initially learn and understand within their own mother tongue. It is also great for students as a means to learn other languages.