Tag Archives: reading

Inspirational mum Reem from Ossass-Stories.

July’s inspirational mum is Reem, author and publisher from Ossass-Stories.

 

What is your career background?

After studying English at university, I started working as a translator and researcher in Jerusalem, mainly with The New York Times. In 2006, when I was 26, the Israel-Lebanon war broke out, and I urged my boss to let me go to the frontline because I knew the area well. It was my first major journalistic assignment. I realised that being fluent in Arabic would be even more of an advantage in video than in print, so I taught myself how to film and edit video. In 2009 I started doing videos for The New York Times, going into the field, interviewing people, filming them, writing my own scripts and editing together the video reports. In 2012 I moved to New York, and was hired as a staff video journalist by The Wall Street Journal. I mainly covered Middle East affairs, the war in Syria and Iraq, the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis.

 

How did your career change after having children?

I put my career on hold twice, both times after giving birth to my daughters. After my first, in 2011, I waited 9 months before going back to freelance video journalism, although I was able to do some translation before that. I really enjoyed being a mother, but I also loved my work as a journalist, and I was happy that I could be both. I was happier and more fulfilled, and although I had originally intended to stay at home longer to bring my daughter up bilingual in Arabic and English, it very quickly became clear that she was learning more words and language skills when she was at a nursery interacting with other children her own age and other adults. There was a similar pattern after my second daughter was born in New York in 2015. I left my job at The Wall Street Journal when I was 9 months pregnant, spent the first 18 months with her – and settling my family into a new life in London. I only recently started freelancing again, but I have spent the last few months working on building up my small business, which publishes Arabic books for children.

 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Or, in my case, the mother who invented. Arabic has two registers: formal and colloquial. All books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes  – even for children – use the formal version of the language. That was very frustrating to me as a child, to read children, animals and cartoon characters talking like lawyers and newspaper editorials. When I became a mother I just couldn’t read those books out aloud to my children. So I decided to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. Things are changing in the Arab world – satellite television channels have familiarised people with other Arabic dialects, and social media has got people accustomed to the idea that it is all right to write as you speak. Other mothers and fathers in the Arab diaspora told me they felt the same, and that it was more important for their children to learn to speak to their grandparents and cousins than to struggle their way through high, formal Arabic texts.

I talked with my husband about this idea in March 2014 and we published our first book in December 2015. When I got the first actual solid book in my hands, it really was a huge feeling of achievement, an affirmation that we were doing something new, and a little bit revolutionary.

 

What drives you do what you do?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never really formulated a plan. But then the world changed around me and I realised that we were living in an era of mass migration of Arabs to Europe, America and elsewhere.

As someone who lives in the Arab diaspora I saw these new arrivals turn up – as a journalist I even went to interview some of them – and it became even more important to me that we should have a new children’s literature in Arabic, featuring the contemporary world. Our books feature a confident, outgoing young Arab girl who feels entirely at home in places like New York. Because it is her city. That is how our oldest daughter defines herself if anyone asks her where she is from: she says “I am from New York City.” I love that. And I want books that show Arabs living in the West comfortably, being an integral part of the scenery, fluent in the language and culture. It’s a passion to me.

 

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I was really surprised by how quickly an idea became a real product. It all started one evening in March 2014. I was frustrated after reading a bedtime story to my daughter in formal Arabic. I went to the living room and told my husband that I wanted to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. It was a eureka moment, it was so obvious to me that this needed to be done, and I had no doubt in my heart or mind that I was going to do it. My husband was so positive, encouraging and very excited about the idea. I started with my research work that evening. I contacted an illustrator the next day after seeing his work on the internet. We found a lawyer to help us set up our own publishing house, we signed a contract with the illustrator two months later, and our first book was published a year and a half after the idea was born. We’ve just published our second book, and I couldn’t be prouder.

 

Who is your target audience?

Our books are mainly designed for Arab children living in the diaspora. But since we started selling, we have also seen interest from college and university students, who are studying colloquial Arabic, but can’t find books to practise it. The book is now on the shelves of public libraries in New York, Norway and Sweden, and in bookshops in cities around the world where there is an Arab community.Our books are for everyone who enjoys a good story. We’re even thinking to translate it into other languages, including English.

 

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Most of it is done on social media. We have a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. We also have people who subscribe to our emailed newsletters. We have held readings in schools and colleges and we have a pink business card in the shape of a bookmark that we send out with every book, and encourage people to tell a friend. We are right now preparing for an Arabic cultural street festival in New York – where we had a stall last year – and for our first one in London. I tell everyone I meet about our books, because I am very proud of it, and also I would like people to spread the word. It’s a lot of work.

 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

I think that there aren’t enough hours in the day to manage to be a mother and a business woman. There’s so much work to do when it’s your own business, every little decision from deciding the name of your company, to designing your logo, to choosing the paper thickness of the books, to writing the best promotional post on Facebook. Much of it is up to me, although my husband does help as much as he can while doing a full time job in journalism. Publishing involves a lot of back and forth with printers, smoothing out the text and pictures with the illustrator, and with the friends and colleagues who are more fluent in, say, the Egyptian dialect than I am. My husband and I both post the books personally – those sent from London, at least – which takes up time but provides an enormously satisfying moment when another envelope gets sent on its way.

 

So, I would say that time is my biggest obstacle. Being a mother to an 18-month-old toddler also means there are some feelings of guilt. Am I giving my younger daughter enough attention? But I also see that my older daughter is immensely proud to see her life chronicled in books that are – loosely – based on her life. And I am proud to see a small publishing house that started from nothing growing every day.

 

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?

I think the happiest and proudest moment for me was when I first saw the first copy of our first book. I was 9 months pregnant, very heavy, and it was an incredibly emotional moment. We had worked for months on the story, the illustrations, the backstory, the rollout plan. It was more than anything a lesson that you can do anything with persistence, hard work and big dreams. Nothing beats the feeling of working for your own company. Seeing it all come together… it was almost like giving birth. But much less painful.

 

Who inspires you?

I admire ambitious women. I remember a few years ago I used to follow a New York Times video series featuring business women from different backgrounds who started from zero and built their business empires. And I remember so clearly looking at their stories and thinking “I want to do the same! I want to have an idea and turn it into a successful business model.”

NEWSFLASH
Reem will be appearing at some amazing cultural festivals over the summer. To find out more read her newsletter.
Full name: 

Reem Makhoul

Author and Publisher

 

Company: 

Ossass-Stories

(Publishing House | Children’s books in colloquial Arabic)

 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OssassStories

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OssassStories

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/arabicbooksforchildren/

Website: www.Ossass-Stories.com

Emailcontact@Ossass-Stories.com

 

AniMalcolm book review

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am 9 years old and I am Emily and I am eight years old today we will be doing a review of a book called AniMalcolm by David Baddiel It is a very good book and we enjoyed it very much. It is a good book for boys and girls.

The main character is Malcolm. He is ten years old.

All the people in Malcolm’s family (Malcolm’s mum, dad and sister) are animal crazy except for Malcolm who does not like animals at all. Malcolm’s mum is a vet.

Malcolm did not get what he asked for on his birthday He wanted a computer a FYZ Apache 321 computer but instead got a chinchilla .He probably felt disappointed because he was really looking forward to have a computer. Malcolm was angry and frustrated when on his birthday his parents did not give him the present he wanted.

My funniest part is when Malcolm gets Monkey poo all over him. He was a lot younger and he was visiting to the Zoo with his Grandad and his family. They were laughing with him because he was covered in Monkey Poo.

Malcolm did not want go the the year six trip was to the farm because he does not like animals. His parents wanted him to go on the trip so he could learn more about animals and to like them more.

On the school trip to the farm he meets K-pax is a magical goat who was rescued from the Himalayas. He is wise and powerful. When Malcolm asked K-pax a question he turned Malcolm into a animal. Malcolm meets Benny and Bjornita who are his tortoise friends when he turns into a animal.

Malcolm’s parents feel sad and depressed when they find out Malcolm is missing and they search the farm for him. They cannot find him because he is an animal.

When Malcolm is trying to get home (when he is a pigeon) he is surprised to find out that his chinchilla speaks Spanish (Espanol) and Malcolm is surprised and wonders why he speaks that language instead of English.

Malcolm’s mum and dad take him to the vets (he is a Chinchilla) When Malcolm turns back into a boy he is laying on a operating table at the vets. They were shocked and surprised to see him there.

When Malcolm turns back into a boy he likes animals more than he did before as he knows what life is really like as an animal. One year after Malcolm turned back into a boy the next year six went to the farm for a trip we don’t know what happened next… .

Check out this short trailer to find out more

Disclaimer
We were given this book for free for the purpose of review.
These are our own thoughts and opinions.

Goth Girl and the ghost of a mouse book review.

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am nine years old. Today I will be doing a review of of a book called Goth Girl and the ghost of a mouse and it is by Chris Riddell.

I chose to review this book because it looked like an interesting book and because I have not read/reviewed any of the Goth Girl books. I would like to read another Goth Girl book. It has detailed and awe-inspiring illustrations in it.

The main characters are Goth Girl [Ada] , Lord Goth [Ada’s dad] and Ishmael [a dead mouse].

Ishmael [a dead mouse ] is very cheeky and mischievous and likes exploring.

My favourite character is Goth Girl [Ada] because she likes exploring like me and because Goth Girl is very mischievous.

The book is about Goth Girl [Ada] and she finds a dead mouse called Ishmael and they go on an adventure and find a person called the polar explorer and they find out that Maltravers is up to something.

My least favourite character is Maltravers because he is scary and likes capturing animals for other people to hunt.

My favourite bit of the story was when Goth Girl saved the siren sesta , the fawn and the goat from Maltravers because I like animals.

I would recommend this book because it is very interesting , exciting and uses a wide variety of description.

Goth Girl has to wear big clumpy boots because Goth Girl’s mum[Goth Girl’s mum was a tightrope walker] died so her dad doesn’t want Goth Girl to die like Goth Girl’s mum did.

If I could write the ending for this I would write that Ishmael [a dead mouse] stayed with Goth Girl forever and looked after Goth Girl [Ada].

This book took me one hour to read because it is a very short book and when I like a book I read it quickly.

I liked the book so much I am saving up to get another Goth Girl book.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book in exchange for a review. These are our honest opinions.

Would you eat a Ratburger?

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am 9 years old. I will be reviewing Ratburger by David Walliams. The reason I got this book is because I have never read it before, and I like David Walliams’ books.


My favourite character is Zoe because she likes animals and she wants to train them to do tricks. Zoe had a hamster but it died, so now she has a pet rat which is a wild rat. She dreams that one day she will travel around the world with her animals that do tricks.

 

The main characters are Zoe, Zoe’s dad and Sheila (Zoe’s stepmum).

The character I would like to be is Zoe because she gets to try new ice cream flavours that her dad makes.

Sheila (Zoe’s stepmum) is very lazy and she only eats prawn cocktail crisps and makes a big mess. She is unkind to Zoe and and asks Zoe to pick her stepmum’s nose which is disgusting.

Zoe’s dad is very poor because he lost his job but at the end of the book he gets his job again.

Tina is a bully and lives next to Zoe.

Raj is a shopkeeper and gives things to Zoe for free because Zoe doesn’t have any money.

My least favourite character is Burt because he kills rats and makes them into burgers.

 

My favourite bit of the story was when Zoe’s rat did a trick for Zoe’s school talent show because everybody liked Zoe’s rat.

My least favourite bit of the story was when Burt wanted to kill Zoe because Zoe went into Burt’s warehouse to try and free the rats.

If I could change the ending of Ratburger I would change it to  Zoe’s dream coming true. She would travel around the world with her animals that do tricks.

 

The book was sad and a little bit scary because Burt wanted to kill Zoe and also Zoe’s hamster died.

I would recommend this book because it is very enjoyable and it is a very interesting book.

 

It was such a good book that it only took me one day to read it and I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know what happened next.

 

Check the link below to get your own copy.

 

 

Friendly Mermaids and Snotty Dinosaurs a One Third Stories book review

As a proud mummy I’m so pleased to present my Emily’s bilingual book review

What is the book called?
The great Français word search

Who is your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is (la sirene) the mermaid because she is beautiful and I want to be a mermaid so it makes me want to be in the story.

What do you like about the book and why?
I liked the bit when (la fille) the girl meets (la femme) the woman because she uses a paintbrush to paint (la femme) the woman so (la femme) the woman had some colour.


What do you not like about the book and why?

I didn’t like the bit when (le dinosaure) the dinosaur was snotty because I don’t like green slimy snot.

Why is this book special?
It is special because it’s in French and English and not many books are in French and English.

It would be even better if …
It would be even better if (la sorcière) the witch, stole her words and she hid the words at (le cirque) the circus.

Reading with little ones (and bigger ones too) is a a massive part of their language and vocabulary development. I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

This book is available in German, French, Spanish and Italian. A beautiful book and inspiring a love of language from a young age which has massive long term benefits. Buy your own copy at OneThirdStories via this link

https://goo.gl/49z9KP

How do you teach Arabic to your Children?

This week we have a guest blog from Nadine Ismail, from Reinventing Nadine . She lives in the USA and faces the same language challenges as parents the world over.

I am born and raised in Lebanon, a tiny country in the Middle East. Moved to the USA when I got married to my American born husband (He is of Syrian heritage). My native language is Arabic, but I went to French School (so all material were taught in French) and then went to the American University of Beirut, where I did both my BA and MA in Public Sector Administration with emphasis on Human Resources. I always loved languages and while in college, I also studied German for 3 years at the Goethe Institute and finished Elementary level. I worked on projects with the World Bank, UNDP and then moved to the private sector and worked in multinational companies where English was the official business language.

When I moved to the US, I decided to leave the corporate world and focus on what I enjoy doing, being a mother and wife. My blog started as a way to document my journey from a single working young woman in the Middle East to a Mom and a wife in the USA. It started as a food blog, then as my daughter grew, I started teaching her Arabic Language. I discovered how little are the resources out there for mothers like me. I started reaching out to other companies and authors who make products/wrote books and reviewed them and come up with creative ways of using the products. I became involved in my local Arabic school and helping out with the events, the curriculum and started a new Arabic Culture and Heritage class that I teach every Sunday.

I am also a blogger at Arab America ) where I blog about being a bilingual parent, tips about teaching kids/adults Arabic language and heritage. I am involved in a unique Middle Eastern Youth Singing Ensemble that teaches youth to sing classical and folkloric Arabic Songs. I am working on a course to teach adults the language with emphasis on Spoken Levantine dialect. The Arabic language is a beautiful and rich language but it is difficult and challenging. I am currently learning Spanish and Turkish. My daughter who is 7 now, can read and write in Arabic. Here is a video of her reading a book.

My website is now more about celebrating the Arab Heritage and culture through food, arts and the language. I also do traditional Middle Eastern embroidery and share that one my Instagram. In my opinion, the language is the gate to the culture, it opens up all the other doors.

Please find below links to some of my articles and collaborations:

With Arab America:

1.Teaching Kids Arabic
2. Arabic Back to School
3. Alef Baa in Songs
4. An interview with Joudie Kalla, the author of “Palestine on a Plate”
5. 10 Games in Arabic to fight Winter Break Boredom

With Arabic Playground:
My Arabic journey alphabets.
Summer workbook, my journey alphabets.Writing Arabic

Are you learning Arabic or teaching it to your children? Have you come across any other good resources? We’d love to know in the comments below.

James and the Amazing Gift book

If you read our blog regularly you’ll know we love books. When Nicola asked us to review her first ever book James and the Amazing Gift we were over the moon!

This book is about a boy called James. He has an amazing gift. He loves to James and the Giftsmile.

If you’ve ever traveled on the Underground with children you’ll recognise the scenario. People, packed like sardines refuse to make eye contact, let alone speak to each other, but littles who do not know the “rules” happily smile and interact with other passengers and even get the carriage talking to each other. As you can see my girls have beautiful smiles that others cannot resist.

A smile is an amazing gift, and this is exactly what the story is about.

James also has an incredible ability to make everyone he meets, smile too. But one day, whilst he is at a garden centre with his mummy, he sees an elderly lady who does not want to smile. She is sitting in the corner with her purple hat pulled down over her face. She is all alone. James has to work really hard to get her attention. Will he be able to make the old lady feel as if she is no longer just by herself?

This book is interesting as it really brings out the question of empathy and how others feel.


And over to my girls

Jasmin: My favourite character is James because he makes everybody smile. I think James is amazing because he cheers people up when they sad.

Emily: I like James amazing gift because his gift is smiling and I makes him happy and other people happy. I think at night time he even makes the owl smile! I think it was good when James made used his amazing gift to make the lonely elderly lady happy.

contact-the-elderly

James and the Amazing Gift illustrates beautifully how a smile can go a long way to impact upon the lives of others.
Nicola has written this, her first book to raise awareness of the loneliness of elderly people, especially at Christmas time. For every book sold, £1 of the proceeds will be donated to the UK charity Contact the Elderly, which
tackles loneliness among older people by holding tea parties.

James and the amazing gift is Available to buy from http://bit.ly/Amazing_Gift, as well as
Amazon and other selected stockists. It makes a lovely gift to share with your own smiller.

The good news is we have a copy of James and the Amazing Gift signed by Nicola for you to win. The giveaway closes on 31st December.

Mudpie Fridays


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

One Third Stories- The Great Deutsch word search

I’m so excited to hear these books are finally ready! surfing-mermaid This summer they’ve been running a kickstarter to produce physical books. We ordered a German one of course, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peek when we met at the Language show Live and … It’s very good!

I met Alex and Jonny from One Third Stories a while back.They have a contagious passion for to inspire children to learn and love foreign languages, not just in a classroom setting. Read my interview with Alex here.

In The great Deutsche word search, The little girl looses her words in a storm and her and her cat go on an adventure to find them again, as the adventure continues more and more German is mixed in. Stories are full of magic and I’m sure this magic will touch your family too.

The books use the clockwork methodology. The stories begin in English. Gradually, words in the target language are introduced in contexts that make their meaning immediately apparent. Words become phrases, phrases become sentences and sentences become whole pages in another language. There is a glossary at the end of the
book to help in understanding if needed.

Our home languages are English and German, but my children are not yet confident to pick up a German book. As this book gradually increases the amount of German I think it will feel much more manageable and accessible to them than a fully German book. It is surprise Christmas gift for my daughters (please don’t tell them!) I’ll let you know what they think in the New Year.

The great Deutsche word search is beautifully illustrated with a fun, engaging story. There is lots of excitement to keep pages turning. I think the mix of languages means we can share it together and they can then look at on their own at bedtime so increasing their confidence in German. They only have school lessons in English and French so building their confidence in German their main issue. As a parent bringing up bilingual children this book is a great fun resource to use. Reading with little ones (and bigger ones too) is a a massive part of their language and vocabulary development. I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

This book is available in German, French, Spanish and Italian. It would make an amazing Christmas gift, a beautiful book and inspiring a love of language froma young age which has massive long term benefits. Buy your own copy at OneThirdStories via this link
https://goo.gl/49z9KP

Percy the Pigeon – Katie’s first book

family-katieI love to celebrate the achievements of other mums in business. This month we have an inspirational interview with full time mum Katie who has just fulfilled her dream of writing a children’s book.

Hi Katie, could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Katie Budge, I’m 25 years old and I live in the town of Stevenage in Hertfordshire. I live with my two young sons and my boyfriend of five years. My sons – Gerrard-Anthony (2 and a half) and James (7 months) are my whole world and my full time job is getting to spend every day with them being their mum.

I’ve previously worked in schools but stopped working when my first son was born. That’s where most of my inspiration came from when writing children’s stories. I started writing children stories years before, when I was in college studying a ‘diploma in child care and education’ course, we were asked to write a story that helped to teach children valuable life lessons or had some sort of moral to it. I got wonderful feedback both from my tutors and peers and I thoroughly enjoyed writing them.

What was your biggest challenge in writing you first book?
My biggest obstacle was getting published by a publishing company, unfortunately I didn’t manage to find anyone and had to self -publish my book. Although that was my biggest obstacle it meant I got to choose my illustrator, who drew in a way that I liked, which I wouldn’t have got the chance to do, had I been published by a company. I also got to take my time, keep editing my book along the way and at the end of it, I could say, I did it myself. Which is a fantastic achievement and one I’m very proud of.

What would you say is the most important thing when working from home?
Balance is a very important thing when writing stories and having my two boys. Whenever they are taking a little nap or fast asleep in bed by half past seven each night (they’re very good boys) I use that time to write and re write my stories. I’m very lucky that I have so much inspiration around me everyday from my two beautiful boys, but I haven’t yet bought myself round to writing a book about eating snot, which is a daily occurrence with a two year old!

percy the pigeon

Could you tell us a little about your book?

Percy the Pigeon was written after I spotted a very aggressive and greedy pigeon scoffing all the bird food put out in the garden while I was washing up. The story about a very greedy pigeon who doesn’t like to share food with his friends which eventually gets him into trouble. The story follows Percy and his over indulging ways and we find out whether he eventually changes his ways, or if he always puts his belly first.

I really hope people enjoy reading it, especially all the boys and girls out there, and I would love to hear feedback from anyone who purchases it. My book can be found and bought at:
http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/7500674-percy-the-pigeon

It’s been a pleasure to chat to you Katie, thanks so much.

This beautiful book would make a love Christmas present. It’s lovely rhyming book about the value of sharing and friendships. I’m sure you’ll enjoy snuggling up to your little one to share this story. Let me know what you think.

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

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