An illustrated book invites children to learn. An illustrated dictionary invites children to love language—and children who speak endangered languages often don’t have any books in their mother tongue at all, and certainly no dictionaries designed for children.
Tim Brookes of The Endangered Alphabets Project and his students at Champlain College in Vermont, are working with Our Golden Hour to address this. His group has just successfully completed a KickStarter campaign for an illustrated dictionary! This dictionary is for children of indigenous peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, with six languages, including four endangered languages. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first of its kind for children speaking endangered languages!
Tim described the project on the KickStarter page as follows:
“On one page they’ll see a picture of something familiar: a monkey, a mango, an elephant. On the opposite page they’ll see the corresponding word in no fewer than six languages. Four of them will be indigenous to the region: Mro, Marma, Chakma, Tripura. The others will be Bangla, the official national language, and English, the global language. The first edition will have 100 commonly-used words; each time we come back to it we’ll add another 100, or 200.”
A dictionary like this is a big step in helping kids get excited about learning new words. And a love of literacy is key to helping children prosper academically, which is very important for children speaking endangered languages.
This illustration is by Euija Kim, who illustrated The Crocodile and The Fox, a book soon to be published by Our Golden Hour.