by Allison Juda, Editor, School/Library Planning & Partnership Management
I have a confession to make: We get some of our best ideas from customers. We regularly call librarians across the country to hear what they think of our ideas, what holes they need filled in their collections, and how to best serve their needs.
About a year ago, we were talking to a Chicago-area public school librarian during one of our regular customer calls. She told us her students were asking for books in French they could use to make friends with new students from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most of us at Lerner don’t have much experience working on foreign language books outside of our Spanish titles in the ediciones Lerner program, but how can you say no to that heart-melting story? So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work finding the perfect translators.
At the time, we were just starting our partnership with Sesame Street and knew a language series intended to help build friendships would be a perfect fit. From its very beginning, Sesame Street has promoted mutual respect and cultural understanding by featuring a cast of diverse and lovable characters. They’re all about introducing children to new things and creating smarter, stronger, and kinder world citizens. (Like I said, a perfect fit.)
In the Sesame Street Welcoming Words series, children learn simple words and phrases in Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew, and Arabic. Each book makes learning easy by pairing the English with the foreign word as well as a simple phonetic pronunciation. While these books are obviously for the kiddos, I’ve definitely practiced some Mandarin Chinese along the way. One of my favorite parts about this series is the international Muppets we meet along the way. The German snail Muppet Finchen is so cute, No’man from the UAE helps readers learn Arabic, and I can’t get over the sweet tiger Lily from China. I hope that our young friends from Chicago can use these books to make new best friends, or as they say in French, meilleurs amis.
Next on our to-do list was something we hear over and over. Cookbooks, cookbooks, cookbooks! Who out there is familiar with Sesame Street’s segment Monster Foodies? Cookie Monster and his friend Gonger drive around in their bright orange foodie truck to make yummy food for kids across the country. True to form, Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck: A Sesame Street Celebration of Food does just that! Along the way, readers will learn about how to eat healthy, find out where their food comes from, and enjoy some tasty recipes (like Bert and Ernie’s Blueberry and Strawberry Salad—yum!). School Library Journal called this book “a lively and entertaining way to introduce cooking to youngsters and get them thinking about ways to keep their bodies healthy and strong.” I couldn’t agree more!
So thanks for the ideas, librarians out there. We really appreciate all you do and look forward to our next chat!