Why did I create this book?
Like so many families, my husband and I come from multilingual backgrounds. We're both originally Lebanese and speak three languages fluently, and a fourth one strenuously. We would like to pass that skill on to our two wonderful sons. After thorough research, we were not able to find interesting and engaging bilingual stories for our kids to enjoy. We started with the "word for word" books, which are important, but our three-year-old learned them quickly and needed more. We then moved to the stories with a separate repeated paragraph for each language. He lost interest in them, fast.
So if you can't find, create!
Initially, I wrote a simple story and printed my first "homemade" book. My Eureka moment came after seeing how fun it was for my eldest and how quickly he learned. He began repeating and translating what we were reading, and screamed with excitement " Encore Zo et Noé! " After that, I shared my idea with a few close friends and it blossomed into this passionate project.
Who is behind this project?
Hi! My name is Faten Baassiri, and I'm the creator and the writer of Zo & Noé. I'm an Interior Architect and a Product Designer by training. I have 2 beautiful sons: Zein and Neel. My husband and I are making sure they get the best education we can offer them- hence, this project. We are based in New York and absolutely love it! Something charming about the city is the different languages you hear everywhere you walk. People always wonder where we're from when they hear us, which is part of the beautiful complexity of being from Lebanon!
Marhaba, I’m Hanane Kai. I’m an illustrator and designer based in the mountains of Lebanon. My team, my right hand Maya Akiki, and I made the images you’re seeing here. Like most Lebanese people I speak three languages, so je comprends Zo and Noé when they speak to me. Zo insisted that his color should be yellow, so I couldn’t say no. I’ve illustrated around 20 children’s books, but this one is my first for toddlers. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Why teach languages through stories?
According to research and professionals, children from zero to six years old have the ability to distinguish different pronunciations, making them more receptive to learning more than one language. Moreover, kids who are multilingual are often at an advantage cognitively, academically, socially, and good at problem solving.
The method of teaching languages through stories has always been around. Storytelling is a very effective learning tool. It makes it fun and entertaining, and helps in memorizing words and sentences without even realizing. When you are engaged and enjoying the activity, it creates a positive emotional memory. ( #TPRS : teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling)
Stories also help put words in context, simultaneously teaching proper grammar and syntax, and providing a full immersion. If you are interested in raising a young reader, check out this article by the NY Times. You can read more about this method of teaching here: https://bit.ly/3cNcSpG and https://bit.ly/3rJ9jFn
Another teaching method used in this book series is the popular #OPOL method: One Person - One language, adopted by parents worldwide to raise bilingual children. There are endless articles and resources that explain this technique, some even modernized it to fit their family's lifestyle. We use this method with our kids, and we have family and friends who do too, and I can attest that it works. However, it does need a lot of consistency, patience and trust that our kids are smarter than we think. Their brains are sponges!
If you are a bilingual family, the type of conversation in the book will sound familiar: you speak one language, and your child answers in another.
"The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!" - Maria Montessori
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