A new series of children’s language books have been released to help foster a love of Greek language in youngsters.

Aimed at children aged from 2-7 years, ‘The Fabulous Lost and Found and the little Greek Mouse’ written by Mark Pallis and illustrated by Peter Baynton is about to hit bookstores on 15 January 2020.

The language-learning books use the “story-powered language learning” method which is inspired by the latest research.

Author Mark Pallis believes that a child’s first steps in a new language should be “a riotously fun experience”. The exploits of Mr and Mrs Frog and their very small shop filled with so many lost things teaches language but also attempts to help children build empathy and lay the foundation of a lifelong love of language.

“Today, like never before, I feel we need more of that empathy between people from different countries,” Mr Pallis said, who had set up a legal aid clinic for refugees in Cairo when he was 21 for people from Sierra Leone, Congo, Iraq and Sudan. He realised during that time, how important it was for these people to share their painful stories in their own language. “Somehow just that simple gesture of wanting to engage, of being seen to be making an effort to make them feel at home was enough to set us off,” he said.

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Author Mark Pallis. Photo: Twitter

These days, Mr Pallis speaks Italian, French, German, Tagalog, Greek, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Krio and Kupsabiny (a Ugandan language) along with English. Understanding the importance of language acquisition in building empathy, Mr Pallis hopes that the books will be an important resource for youngsters. “It’s also my way of helping the youngest children, my own included, engage with a foreign language, learn to empathise with strangers and ultimately build a love of languages. The possibility that after a few reads, kids will be able to go up to a native speaker and tell them in their own language: ‘I’ve lost my hat,” fills me with joy,” Mr Pallis said. “Imagine the reaction! Think of how proud the child will feel. So whether you come to the book because your family has a deliciously mixed international heritage, like mine, or simply for the fun of it, the simple fact of engaging with another language is going to be an enriching experience for everyone.”

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Being part-Greek, Mr Pallis wanted resources to share with his own family, however the books he found on the market didn’t cut it. “There had to be a way to make it more fun, and more engaging,” he said. “So I reached out to language experts who helped me get up to speed with all the latest research. I workshopped with parents and teachers until finally we had it just right,” he said, in reference to the story-powered language learning method which taps into a child’s natural abilities.

‘The Fabulous Lost and found and the little Greek Mouse’ is published by Neu Westend Press and will be available on 15 January 2020 at $9.99 and $3.99 for the e-book. For more info, contact neuwestendpress@gmail.com