Laura has recently been attending the online course on Multilingual Practices from the University of Groningen. She was inspired to take the course as she is raising her kids trilingual and wanted to get some more perspective to the topic of multilingualism. Laura: ‘It was so inspiring to connect with students all around the world and hear different views on multilingualism!’. After taking the online course, Laura was inspired to write a blog for us.
Raising bilingual children
I am a mother of two, born and raised in Lapland Finland, but I have lived and worked over 20 years abroad in Sweden, France, Switzerland, Australia and as of last year in Seattle US.
I got interested in children’s literature when my kids were born in Australia. Growing up in Northern Finland myself, my childhood was quite different from the international settings where my kids were growing up in Australia, not to mention the different climate and how it influences daily life.
When I and my German husband got pregnant in Australia, it felt quite natural to choose to speak our native languages, Finnish and German, to our kids. I have always felt that the attitudes towards multilingualism in Australia are very supportive. And I can see why: looking at the census from 2001, 2.8 million Australians reported speaking a language other than English at home. I have to admit that it is not always easy to find the right words and speak Finnish correctly as I have lived abroad for over 20 years now, but it is the world in Finnish words that I like to share with my kids every day.
In my search for Finnish children’s books in Finland and even speaking with a librarian there, it became obvious that there are still very few Finnish children’s book written for Finnish children abroad. There aren’t many books talking about the life of Finnish children living abroad with different languages and cultures, like my children. This is how the idea of writing a children’s picture book was born. I wanted to provide a story for my kids with which they could identify themselves. Inspired by our family life in Australia, I wrote a story about a girl called Maija, who has many cultural backgrounds and is living in a cultural diverse Australia.
The book Maija’s World – Possums and Reindeer became a project close to my heart and I was lucky to get the help of a like-minded mother, friend and talented artist Katrin Klinger, who did beautiful illustrations for the book. Originally written in Finnish, we felt that it was only natural to translate and publish the Maija book in German and English as well, as we speak both of these languages in our families.
Maija book reflects Finnish, German and Australian cultures and the way of living, but we hope this book will be useful and cherished for any family living with different cultures at home or abroad. Maija books are sold on Amazon US and Europe. We are raising money for a good cause from the book sales, and all the profits are donated to the Malala Fund, supporting underprivileged girls’ education in the world.
We hope many more children will love and enjoy this book as much as our children do.
Kiitos! Thank you!
You can read more about the Malala Fund’s projects for girls’ education on www.malala.org. If you like to get the book Maija’s World and support our project, you can get it here. You can visit us on Facebook as well.