Seattle-based author donates bilingual books to Cornwall Library

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The Cornwall Public Library received an interesting donation of books from Seattle-based author Denise Bourgeois-Vance on Thursday.

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Although she now lives on the American West Coast, Bourgeois-Vance knows Cornwall quite well – she was born here and raised in the city. She is, along with her husband Garth Vance, the founder of a small publishing house called Advance Books.

The author’s 11 books, called the Sophia and Alex series, have become very popular around the world and for good reason – the series has been translated into 17 different languages, by native speakers.

“Before, I was a preschool teacher and I had a lot of parents who came to ask if there were books in different languages ​​for their preschoolers and I had to say no to them,” Bourgeois-Vance said. “I kept telling my husband that I wish we had books like this and he said ‘you can write books, why don’t you?’

While Bourgeois-Vance writes the books, her husband, who has a background in publishing, takes care of the business side. A reader who opens one of Bourgeois-Vance’s 11 books will find sentences in two languages ​​- one in English and the other in another language such as Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, French, l ‘German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.

“They are intended for children between the ages of three and five and they simply eat them,” said the author.

To feed this literary hunger, the series won seven government contracts with a school district. The married couple also sell the books in bulk to various schools and libraries.

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The need for bilingual books in the United States is quite obvious. One in five households in the country speaks a second language at home, but only a small percentage of national literature is translated. This demand is not only in the United States, however – the Cornwall Public Library runs a program where a book is read in both English and French.

“The idea is to learn to read and write in different languages,” said Pierre Dufour, communications and programs coordinator. “We’re trying to add in a third language on this, Mohawk.”

Books donated by Bourgeois-Vance will be available for loan from the library and can be found on the local authors’ shelf, not too far from the entrance. For more information on Bourgeois-Vance and Advance Books, visit ChildrenBilingualBooks.com.

During the coming fall season, several changes will be made to the Cornwall Public Library. Although Dufour could not give details on the subject, more information on the new programs and other changes will be available in the coming months.

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