My Mother's Tongues: A Weaving of Languages

My Mother's Tongues: A Weaving of Languages
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Release Date
February 13, 2024
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In a sparkling debut authored by a sixteen-year-old daughter of immigrants, this ode to the power of multilingualism gives voice to the lasting benefits of speaking with more than one tongue.

Sumi’s mother can speak two languages, Malayalam and English. And she can switch between them at the speed of sound: one language when talking to Sumi’s grandmother, another when she addresses the cashier. Sometimes with Sumi she speaks a combination of both. Could it be she possesses a superpower? With awe and curiosity, young Sumi recounts the story of her mother’s migration from India and how she came to acquire two tongues, now woven together like fine cloth. Rahele Jomepour Bell’s inviting illustrations make playful use of visual metaphors, while Uma Menon’s lyrical text, told astutely from a child’s perspective, touches lightly on such subjects as linguistic diversity and accent discrimination (“no matter how they speak, every person’s voice is unique and important”). This welcome debut,penned when the author was still a teenager, is an unabashed celebration of the gift of multilingualism—a gift that can transport people across borders and around the world.

Editor review

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Beautiful Read
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My Mother’s Tongues will resonate so well with multilingual children. In this book being multilingual is described with awe and positivity. It is described as a superpower that allows us to speak to so many more people and how it works like a muscle the more you practice different languages. There are so many benefits to speaking more than one language and I love that this book highlights that idea. It is impressive this book was written when the author was 16 years old and captures her experience so positively. The illustrations give a rich textured quality much like the author describes the languages being woven together seamlessly when her mother speaks. I cannot wait to share this book with ELL students who are working so hard to learn English to help highlight the importance of not forgetting your first language in pursuit of learning English. I do wish there had been a backmatter to give some facts about Kerala and the language of Malayalam. Overall, this book was a beautiful read and a great reminder of what a wonder it is to be able to speak multiple languages.
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