Adriana Khouri wanted to teach her daughter, Amadine Muniz, the value of giving back to the community through volunteering. One of their favorite places is the Oak Bluffs Public Library so they asked how Amadine could help. Children's librarian Irene Tewksbury had wanted to offer a story time in Portuguese, so the two paired up.
Last year they offered the bilingual story time nearly every month. Ms. Khouri and Ms. Tewksbury would bring in Brazilian foods as refreshments, often linking them to holidays.
The library has books in both languages with one paragraph in Portuguese and the next in English. Soon the two storytellers needed more books. Amadine, a fourth-grader at the Edgartown School, stepped up and translated books into Portuguese and read them to an increasing story time audience.
Three years ago when Amadine and her family came here, she didn't read Portuguese, but spoke it as her first language. Her mother felt it was important for her to learn to read her native language, so she taught Amadine. At the same time the youngster was learning to read and speak English.
"Kids who are born in Brazil speak English here and lose Portuguese," said Amadine. "When they go back to Brazil, they can't talk to their relatives." This is one reason Amadine wants to continue the bi-lingual story time.
"The mission of the parents is to prepare their children for the future," said Ms. Khouri. "When people think of volunteers they think of older people, but children can volunteer too. She loves to volunteer."
At last Saturday's story time, Amadine and Ms. Tewksbury read three stories, "Farmer Duck," "Little Red Hen," and "Don't Cry Sly." Each book contains both languages.
Amadine began reading and used lots of expression and different voices for each character. Because she read with such enthusiasm, English-only listeners were able to understand the story before Ms. Tewksbury provided the English translation.
The children in attendance were enthralled. After the reading, everyone worked on the craft projects and enjoyed the refreshments. Cookies were purchased from a Brazilian store and Ms. Khouri made a carrot cake that was light in texture and a beautiful orange color, much different from the usual carrot cakes.
Stop by and hear Amadine and Ms. Tewksbury read and you will appreciate the rich texture of language and the Island. "I think they will have a great future," said Ms. Khouri of the children. She's right.
The next Portuguese-English story time is Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10:30 am, at the Oak Bluffs library, located on School Street. For more information, call Ms. Tewksbury at 508-693-9433.