Bilingual play teaches literacy - | WBTV Charlotte

Bilingual play teaches literacy


When we were growing up, the only way to raise a truly bilingual child was sending them to a high priced boarding school.

But now there are more choices than ever for children to learn different languages or learn about another culture.

And this is of interest to local educators.

"The title sort of seemed like it bridged cultures and so we were interested in the book," said Beth Murray the UNC Charlotte Assistant Professor of Theatre Education.

The book Mama Goose is a collection of nursery rhymes but with a Latino feel.

"It sort of reflects our world and kids today," said Beth.

Mama Goose explores language, culture, and literacy and it's being brought to life in the form of a play.

"When people see the play they'll see that there are some English speakers, Spanish speakers and bilingual people, we have sign language and it's kind of the way the world goes," said Beth.

She believes that bilingual activities, help children of immigrants adjust to the United States while maintaining ties to their parents.

"Sometimes people forget that you need to hold on to your heritage and you also need to be able to hold on to maybe a first language," said Beth. 

"And that's a way in for all sorts of literacy."

That's exactly why Charlotte Mecklenburg Library embraced the concept as part of their April literacy education.  

"Dia is the celebration of children, books and cultures," said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Outreach manager Meryle Leonard.

"Our objective to be a key partner in literacy in the community."

They want to offer children the opportunity early on to see their lives depicted in the arts.

"To incorporate language and culture is an added plus and also lets them know that our community is diverse and they are part of this bigger family," said Meryle.

Christian Soto is one of the college actors in the play.

He got involved with the production to teach young children about literacy but is also learning.

"To keep in touch with my heritage," said Christian.

One of many cultures he learning to embrace through the performing arts. and Christian hopes others do too.

The 30-minute production includes original music by Criss Cross Mangosauce and choreography by Dr. Donna Dragon, assistant professor of dance education at UNC Charlotte, in collaboration with local teaching artists, Brenda Giraldo and Niché Faulkner. Assistant Professor of Theatre Jeanmarie Higgins is the production dramaturg.

In conjunction with the Mamá Goose project, authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy will visit Charlotte on April 18. Their visit includes appearances at Joseph W. Grier Elementary School, Library Early Literacy Story Time at the Latin American Coalition, a presentation in the UNC Charlotte College of Education, and a colloquium on engaging diverse child audiences in Robinson Hall.

For more information on performance dates and locations log on to


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