The traditional mother goose rhymes are great but after a few hundred times of reading them to your children their appeal does wear off a bit, and they often have heads being chopped off or equally gruesome messages. I decided to find alternatives, and that's where international nursery rhymes filled the gap. Children's books shape our earliest perceptions of the world and its cultures, so by opening children's hearts and minds to other cultures as early as the nursery will hopefully contribute to social and cultural tolerance.
BACKGROUND TO ME
My background is in book publishing and I spent a few years working for Frederick Warne (UK) and Penguin Books (UK) as well as Penguin Books (NZ). More recently I have been proofreading and editing books and have a writing business www.wrightathome.co.nz (and my PR dark side www.thewrightpress.com), which lets me look after my two beautiful children all day.
I worked with many different migrant organisations while writing speeches for Sir Barry Curtis (when he was the Mayor of Manukau). During this time, I was surprised to learn that there are over 165 different ethnic groups in Manukau alone! The migrants worked with were some of the nicest and most hardworking people I'd ever met and all had interesting stories and traditions to share.
Before that I had lots of fun working in the music and film businesses in London. As Martin Amis said "London makes you sadder but wiser".
BACKGROUND TO LANGUAGE LOSS
I have almost completed a Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) degree. I learnt that it's estimated one language will be lost (which is what happens when the last living speakers turn to another language) every two weeks.
"Map courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission"
Currently there are about 5,000 languages now spoken as the first language or mother tongue of someone, somewhere. Half of these are estimated to be lost during the present century. A BBC report said that as many as Nine out of 10 of the world's languages are likely to disappear by 2050. www.itsasmallworld.co.nz is our small effort towards preserving traditional children's rhymes and passing them on to English speaking children while encouraging their interest in other cultures and hopefully interesting them in learning another language or preserving their own mother tongue. Language loss can be reversed - such as what happened with the Hebrew language in Israel - and there is now such a thing as "linguistic human rights". We are proud that Te Reo Maori is such a vital language in New Zealand, our home, and hope that this continues.
Hopefully this project will encourage children to discover the look and sound of other languages and develop an interest in other cultures.
In our grandparents generation eating ethnic food was not commonplace; now their great grandchildren live with many cultural influences outside their own and sometimes many cultural influences inside the one home. Feeding your child rich language from other cultures is a good way to ensure they are culturally sensitive while also just adding great stories and rhymes from other places - where would your childhood reading be without the likes of Babar, Pippi Longstocking and other great translations from foreign works?
Pacifika poet Selina Marsh describes in her poem "Girl" the importance of being able to have access to more than just "Jack and Jill" - extracted below:
"Going to school with other Samoans / and Tongans, and Niueans / and Fijians and Tuvaluans / see the girl never seeing herself or her mates in books, in stories / never seeing her face in the "literary mirror" / see her "see Jack and Jane run" / never Siligi or Tavita / never Pua or Ioane / never Lelei or Luka-Fa'amanu."
extract courtesy of Selina Tusitala Marsh, used with permission
THANKS FOR VISITING THE SITE!
COPYRIGHT: Please note: we do not own copyright to the rhymes on the site so cannot grant this right, you would need to go directly to the estate or author (and translator) if you would like to publish any of them - feel free to photocopy for your own use though. Feel welcome to use the other content on this site just remember to credit www.itsasmallworld.co.nz