Two wonderful new bilingual books to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

As someone who wants to use more te reo Māori in my everyday life books are a great way to do this. I read lots of books to the classes who visit my library each week and I try (especially during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori) to include books in te reo as read alouds. Bilingual books are especially great as I can read in both te reo Māori and English. Oratia Publishers have just released two wonderful new bilingual picture books – 12 Huia Birds/12 Manu Huia by Julian Stokoe and Stacy Eyles and Rona Moon by Tim Tipene and Theresa Reihana.

12 Huia Birds/12 Manu Huia is a bilingual version of the picture book originally published in English in 2016. It tells the story of one of our most beautiful birds and the circumstances that lead to its extinction. The author and illustrator convey an environmental message that highlights our impact on the world. This book has been particularly popular with the teachers at my school, both for the environmental message and the counting down from 12. The text in te reo Māori is a lovely addition to this book.

Rona Moon, written by Tim Tipene (translated by Stephanie Huriana Fong) and illustrated by Theresa Reihana is a modern version of the Rona and the Moon myth. While Peter Gossage’s retelling of the myth is ideal for younger children, Tim Tipene’s Rona Moon makes the story more relatable for today’s children. Rona is a young girl who gets angry with everyone – her brother, her Nana and her Papa. One day she gets so angry that she calls the moon stupid and she finds herself on the moon. She meets Whaea Rona and Whaea teaches her to use her anger to create change, not to attack others. Rona returns home with a new outlook.

Simple te reo Māori is used in the story and te ao Māori is woven into the story. Even those with very basic te reo Māori knowledge will be able to read the story in English, while more confident speakers could read the story fully in te reo Māori. I really love having both options in one book because it helps me to feel confident about giving the te reo Māori a go. I love how Theresa’s illustrations really show readers how angry and frustrated Rona Moon is, while also showing her transformation at the end of the story. The cover is fantastic and is sure to grab the attention of kids and adults alike.

Both of these books are must-have books for classrooms and school libraries. They will be regularly read by teachers and kids will pick them up to read the stories and learn some new te reo Māori words at the same time.