Illustration by Ciara Panacchia
I was born in the Philippines, in a house in a town called Angeles City, just forty-five minutes north of Manila, the country’s capital. My family moved to the United States when I was a little over one year old and I’ve only ever visited once when I was a toddler. My older sister and I moved back and lived with my relatives in the Philippines for about ten months when I was between the ages of three and four and I heard stories that I demanded bubble baths and oreo cookies with milk.
Growing up in America, English became our first and only language, so a lot of the Filipino language escapes my memory. I learned and still understand little bits and pieces of our native tongue, a dialect called kapampangan, because I spent a lot of time with relatives who kept our Filipino culture alive. And whenever I was reprimanded as a child and teenager, my mom would curse in Filipino. (Those of you with parents whose first language isn’t English might identify with me.)
If you’re of Irish descent and you have little ones in your life that you want to teach the Irish language and heritage to, you’re in luck. Graphic designer and illustrator Ciara Ni Dhuinn has written and illustrated Elie’s Books, named after her daughter, to whom Ciara wanted to each the Irish language. Ciara, a native of Ireland who moved to America in 2004 and gave birth to her daughter in 2006 wanted to pass on the language but not through boring textbook-esque Irish-to-English/English-to-Irish dictionaries.
Launched in October 2011, Elie’s Books are rich with colorful and whimsical illustrations that honestly would look lovely to hang as wall art and inspire me to want to learn a little bit of the Irish language.
Who says you have to be Irish or of Irish descent to enjoy these books with your kids. Pick up a copy or two on Amazon and learn more about Ciara oner her website.