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Appeal launched for books for new children's multilingual section at Sheffield Central Library

An appeal has been launched for multilingual children's books
An appeal has been launched for multilingual children's books
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An appeal has been launched for books for a new multilingual children's section set to be introduced in a Sheffield library.

The new section at SheffieldCentral Library, in the city centre, will feature around 500 children's books written in many of the 150 languages spoken in Sheffield.

Dr Sabine Little

Dr Sabine Little

It is being launched following Sheffield's first multilingual book day, held at the library in March, which saw dozens of families attend a storytelling event.

Those behind the project are now appealing for donations of any unwanted children's books written in a language other than English.

Dr Sabine Little, from the University of Sheffield's school of education, said families she had spoken with as part of a research project looking into how primary school children in multilingual families experience reading were struggling to access books.

She said: "Families were telling me they are struggling to access resources and it would be lovely if multilingual reading had a better status in society.

Philomena Osseo-Asare, telling a story in Twi, Ga and Ewe, some of the languages spoken in Ghana, at the Winter Gardens

Philomena Osseo-Asare, telling a story in Twi, Ga and Ewe, some of the languages spoken in Ghana, at the Winter Gardens

"Sometimes when children start school parents are afraid that they aren't going to keep up with their English so the reading in their home language stops.

"There is lots to keeping reading and talking in the home language - there are the connections with their families, emotions and a sense of indentity.

"We are trying to encourage families to think about reading in their home language and English and helping the children to connect with their home language, but also helping schools recognise that reading in home languages is just as important and valid."

Dr Little said the success of the multilingual book day and a multilingual storytelling event in the Winter Garden led her to get in contact with Sheffield Libraries in the hope of setting up a permanent section.

Andira Hernandez-Monzoy taking part in a Spanish storytelling event at the multilingual book day at Sheffield Central Library

Andira Hernandez-Monzoy taking part in a Spanish storytelling event at the multilingual book day at Sheffield Central Library

She said: "At the moment in the library there is a small bilingual book section.

"At the multilingual book day parents said that if children seen words in English then they read that rather than being encouraged to read the home language.

"The library has been really supportive and are offering space and staff which is invaluable.

"It will be funded by donations and I am appealing to the community for book donations.

"I am hoping to make it a real community project.

"I hope it will be used by the community and if they have a stake in making it happen then hopefully it will be more successful."

The library will track the books borrowed so the selection can be expanded and adjusted depending on the needs of residents.

It is hoped the new section will be open for the start of the school summer holidays.

Anyone who has books to donate can contact Dr Little on 0114 222 8089 and s.little@shef.ac.uk