Mint Hill Library introduces “Stories in 2 Languages”

Every fourth Monday the Mint Hill library will present "Stories in 2 Languages," a storytime featuring books and songs in both Spanish and English.
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Every fourth Monday the Mint Hill library will present “Stories in 2 Languages,” a storytime featuring books and songs in both Spanish and English.

On Monday, February 26, the Mint Hill Library hosted its second “Stories in 2 Languages” program, a bilingual storytime featuring content in both English and Spanish for children under five and their caregivers.

The program, planned and presented by librarian Susan Thammavongsa, features stories and songs centered around a theme.  To coincide with Valentine’s Day, Thammavongsa chose love, or “amor,” as the theme for February.

Some of the stories Thammavongsa read were written in English, like Emma Clark’s Love Is My Favorite Thing.  Thammavongsa translated frequently used words into Spanish for the audience like “love” and “dog.”  Other stories were entirely in Spanish like “Te Queiro, Mama,” or “I Love You, Mama,” which Thammavongsa translated into English as she read in Spanish.

Like the library’s other storytime programming for young children, Stories in 2 Languages also featured songs centered around the theme of love in both Spanish and English.  In English, children sang along to the popular preschool song “Skinnamarink,” and in Spanish they sang and danced to “Corazon de Melon.”  

Thammavongsa’s song choices are intentional, aiming for a mix of familiar melodies and exposure to new things.  Thammavongsa prioritizes songs that involve movement and finger play, which not only get the audience moving but also teach the meaning of Spanish words and phrases through actions.  For example, while the children sang “Corazon de Melon,” they drew a heart in the air with their fingers and then reached “arriba” and “abajo.”

Children shook maracas “arriba” and “abajo” during “Corazon de Melon.”

Several other local library branches like Matthews, Independence and Hickory Grove feature a bilingual story time, but it has been five or six years since Mint Hill has offered such a program.  Thammavongsa was asked to begin Stories in 2 Languages due to renewed interest in a bilingual story time from library patrons.  Thammavongsa notes that as Mint Hill has seen growth in its Spanish-speaking population in recent years, there has been corresponding circulation of and demand for Spanish-language books.

Stories in 2 Languages is not only for native Spanish-speakers or bilingual families.  It also targets English-speaking families who are interested in exposing their children to Spanish at an early age.  “It helps them develop even their own English language,” says Thammavongsa, who grew up speaking both Spanish and English.  “When you’re bilingual, it helps you to academically excel faster.  You’re thinking in two different ways . . . as an adult, it helps you also economically.  A lot of jobs are asking for bilingual-speaking employees.”

“Stories in Two Languages” is held every fourth Monday in the Community Room at 10:15 am.  The next “Stories in Two Languages” program will be Monday, March 26.

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: