Today’s very special guest post is by children’s multicultural educator, consultant and author Melina Mallos. Having moved from her birthplace in Greece to Australia at the age of 6, Melina is passionate about helping other children understand and appreciate their own cultural heritage and that of others.
Connecting Children with Culture by Melina Mallos
Today, relocation for economic or social reasons has become common, and for many people, living in a country with cultures and languages very different to where they were born and raised is becoming the norm. As immigration increases and technology continues to connect the world, the skill of speaking other languages is more relevant and advantageous to our younger generations than ever before.
Having the skill of a second language offers multiple benefits for children, such as sharper brain functions, including listening, memory recall, better problem solving, improved critical thinking, greater cognitive flexibility, and verbal and spatial abilities, as well as providing them with more enriching life experiences.
I want to help children create bonds with their community and culture in order to build a strong sense of self, strengthen their relationships, increase their self-confidence, and experience meaningful connections. Having moved from Greece to Australia when I was 6-years-old, I can appreciate the wonderful sense of belonging that comes from discovering and connecting with ‘home’.
However, I’ve found that families of Greek heritage (living abroad) don’t always have as much time as they’d like to nurture their children’s Greek roots. Australia, for example, seems like a world away from Greece and travel can be expensive, which makes the process of connecting with Greece more difficult. But there are lots of ways we can help spark our kids’ curiosity about Greece and their family history. Parents and grandparents can make learning Greek fun for kids at home through even the simplest activities of cooking, looking through family photo albums, and, of course, storytelling, music and dance.
I was inspired to write my first bilingual children’s picture book Catch that Cat! while on holiday in my grandparents’ birthplace of Kythera. The book follows the story of a Greek cat, Aphrodite, and explores Greek culture and human–animal relationships to highlight the ways we belong to family and community. Most recently, I’ve published Trip to Greece, which aims to bring some fun and travel to the process of learning Greek as a second language. It is a colourful activity book with each page offering multiple fun and engaging opportunities for children to hear, speak, read and write Greek (activities vary on the child’s age and language ability).
Following the publication of my two books, the response I’ve received from the Greek community is that there is a real need for quality and engaging stories for parents to read to their kids to help them feel proud of their Greek heritage. I hope that Catch that Cat! and Trip to Greece can create and nurture the interest and the curiosity I mentioned before, so that kids can discover a love for, and connection to, their heritage.
For a limited time, you can buy both books, Trip to Greece and Catch that Cat! (English edition), for just $20. Normal retail price, $15 per book. Visit www.catchthatcat.com/buy-now
(For European customers, to make the postage affordable, please allow for 2 weeks delivery time.)
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