"In an international city there should be an international library"

On Saturday, May 21, the Eindhoven Library together with Mayor Jorritsma, and several different language communities along with their children, festively opened the extensive International Children’s Book Collection in the library at De Witte Dame. Together with over 100 guests it was made clear: reading is worth celebrating! 

"In an international city there should be an international library"

Mayor Jorritsma loves to read to his grandchildren and to young children in the city every year during the National Read Aloud Breakfast. Reading aloud is one of his mayoral duties that he enjoys doing, he said during his opening speech. And besides being a lot of fun, reading is also very important. "Reading helps children build their future. Eindhoven is an international city with more than 160 nationalities. The city needs an international library. Because those books build a bridge between the Netherlands and other countries and cultures."

The Eindhoven Library embraces multilingualism and international communities. Albert Kivits: "The International Children’s Book Collection is a great collaboration between the library and the international communities. With the collection we promote reading pleasure and language development of children and strengthen the connection with Eindhoven." The library has been working on expanding the international collection for some time. During the renovation of the youth department a year ago, it was given a good, visible place. Because these developments passed quietly during the pandemic, the library seized the moment now to proudly highlight the renewals, expansions, and collaborations.

A proud day

Gisi Cannizzaro of Heritage Language Education (HLE) Network: "Today is a really proud day for the library, for HLE Network, for the different language groups, and especially for the multilingual children of Eindhoven. Look at what we can achieve when we work together!" 

Mayor Jorritsma and delegates from the various communities each read a page from the book ukkePuck by Bianca Mastenbroek and Iris van Dijck in their own language.

And then it was the children's turn. They were given the honor of cutting the ribbons and officially opening the International Children’s Book Collection. 

A growing collection

In October 2018, the first steps were taken in cooperation with The Reading Pier, an initiative of mothers Euying Tang-Chong and CT Lim. Their collection of English language children's books was given a permanent place in the library. A collaboration with Heritage Language Education Network (HLE Network) followed in 2020. HLE Network connects a large number of mother tongue language programs that are on offer in Eindhoven. Through this network, first Italian and Chinese collections were added. Later followed children's books in French, Romanian, Bulgarian, Persian, and Polish. Next to be added are Indian, Korean, Spanish, and Turkish books. Ukrainian children's books were also recently added, in cooperation with the local community.

A lively collaboration

These collaborations highlight the importance of encouraging language development in all of the languages that multilingual children speak. It is important for language development that young children have a lot of contact with language. Being read to in the mother tongue helps with this, also with their development of Dutch. 

To bring the books and languages to life, there are regular reading activities in the library in several languages. In addition to Dutch, there are currently reading-aloud activities in English, Ukrainian, Persian, Chinese, Italian, and Japanese. Staying connected with the different language communities is essential to give shape to these activities. 

* See for an overview of the participating language groups.

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