Published September 28, 2022 by Tom Porter

Library Exhibit Showcases Children’s Spanish Language Books to Highlight Education Efforts

A new exhibition in the Bowdoin College Library showcases a collection of nearly fifty Spanish language children’s books in support of academic and community efforts to promote multilingualism among elementary school kids.

barrett23, boyle, greenlee
L-r: Katharine Barrett '23, Margaret Boyle, Carmen Greenlee. Watch a replay of the Facebook Live event.

The forty-six works were purchased over the summer from La Librería bookstore in Los Angeles, California, said Humanities and Media Librarian Carmen Greenlee at a recent Facebook Live event to launch the exhibit. The books will serve two purposes, said Greenlee: First, they will support Multilingual Mainers, a community partnership between Bowdoin and Kate Furbish Elementary School in Brunswick to promote language acquisition skills and multicultural awareness. Second, the books will be available to students interested in Professor Margaret Boyle’s Teaching and Learning Languages and Cultures class (INTD 2516), which she will be teaching again next semester. 

spanish language children books
The books are currently on display in the children's section of the Bowdoin College Library

Boyle, who is associate professor of Romance languages and literatures, also started the Multilingual Mainers initiative, which has grown over six years from an informal lunchtime program to a group of forty student volunteers who introduce young children to a variety of languages (twelve in all), from Arabic to Spanish.

One of those volunteers is Katharine Barrett ’23, a biochemistry and Hispanic studies double major on a premed track. She took the Teaching and Learning Languages and Cultures last semester and is currently pursuing an honors project under Boyle looking at how Hispanic culture is represented in elementary school-level literature.

Barrett said she’s keen to explore “how this promotes intercultural competency as well as language acquisition for students in that age group, and really using literature, picture books in particular, as a means to open up conversation about antibias and to promote enthusiasm for multilingualism at such a young age.”

Further Afield

Soon after launching the new library exhibition, Boyle and Barrett headed to the University of Cadiz in Spain, where Boyle is presenting a paper this week at an international seminar on gender, culture, and modernity

Boyle said she invited Barrett to join as part of her ongoing research. “At this conference, she will be able to observe and interact with historians and literary scholars, primarily based in Spain, engaged with many questions that are central to Katharine’s research.” As the pandemic did not permit Barrett to study abroad, Boyle said she’s grateful that this trip will allow the student “some immersion experience in an academic setting.”