Literary festival exposes children to world cultures

Literary festival exposes children to world cultures

The Prince George’s County Gazette
August 5, 2004
by Marcus Moore

Deborah Crimes, owner of Lessons from Abroad, spearheaded the first annual Multicultural Literary Expo last Saturday in an effort to expose children, ages 2 to 12, to various languages at a younger age.

“Children are usually exposed to foreign languages in middle school,” said Crimes, whose Lessons from Abroad organization has been in business for a year. “This organization wants to expose them to foreign languages before they reach middle school,” she said.

The Multicultural Literary Expo, held at the Bowie Public Library last Saturday morning, was designed for children to hear stories in Spanish, French, Swahili, English, and Japanese.

But for 9-year-old Derald Foster, it was the Japanese literature he heard that excited him the most. “I like the way they write and the martial arts,” Foster said. His brother, 12-year-old Gregory however was most interested in African culture and wanted to hear literature read in Swahili. “I’m interested in the animals,” he said. “I like the elephants and lions.”

Their mother, Carole Foster of Mitchellville, brought seven people to the literary expo last Saturday. As a former homeschooled student, the elder Foster emphasized the importance of reading.

Hanover resident Lesley Anderson actually learned of the event through an e-mail and traveled more than 20 minutes from Hanover to Bowie with her two daughters Taylor, 5, and Logan, 2, to enjoy the literary expo. Her daughter Taylor is a new reader who will be attending kindergarten in the fall. Anderson said bringing her to the expo would be a good way to heighten her interest in reading.

Edwin Fontánez, who read ‘On this Beautiful Island’ at the event, said writing stories for children keeps him young at heart. The book, written and illustrated by Fontánez earlier this year, describes the Taino society and is a “heartfelt tribute to their culture and progressive way of thinking,” Fontánez said. “It means a lot to society to tell good stories with values and being here today is great,” said Fontánez, who owns Exit Studio in Arlington, VA. “I absolutely love to support events like this.”

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