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A tale of two cultures

STORIES FROM INDIA, Audio tape and teacher's booklet, Lens Based Media Centre, De Montford University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH Pounds 12.76 +VAT Age range 5 plus.

At last we are becoming more aware of the need to support bilingual children's first language in schools. Stories from India consists of an audio tape and teacher's booklet of summarised stories. It features eight folk tales, performed in a mix of Gujarati and English by Hema R Archarya, a bilingual storyteller, with children from Abbey Primary School in Leicester.

The pack is a useful attempt at a resource which values cultural traditions of storytelling and offers Gujarati speakers the exciting opportunity to engage in telling stories using Gujarati and English. The format promotes the art of live storytelling with active involvement from children through the use of rhymes, repetition and refrain.

I have some reservations about the mixed format in terms of language level. Beginners in English might find it difficult to follow the English parts of the story, especially if they are familiar with bilingual tapes which have the whole story in both languages. This could limit the tape's use to children who are becoming fluent in both languages. It is likely to be most useful with early years and key stage 1 pupils.

Illustrations are simple, single colour line drawings and teachers will find the summaries of stories in the booklet useful.

In a key stage 1 classroom listening area, this would be an excellent resource for giving a small group of children the chance to listen to stories. Loaned to children to take home it would also be a useful starting point for parental involvement in storytelling and reading.

The authors hope that the publication of this pack will inspire others to develop similar bilingual activities, in partnership with their local communities. There is a pressing need for this type of resource and Stories from India is a good example to follow.

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