Do-it-yourself Telugu Books for Toddlers
It was sobering to realize we’d missed the timeframe for a developmental language milestone, before we even realized what we were up against. There we were in India last fall, when we learned that our daughter’s brain may already have programmed itself to ignore Telugu. Apparently, baby’s brains have evolved such that when exposed to more than one language, at some point around 8 months, the brain takes stock of the languages it hears and decides which language(s) are important to study/learn, and which are superfluous and OK to ignore. Obviously, the idea is that early and equal exposure can help push for multiple languages early on. I can certainly appreciate the efficiency of the brain’s programming here, but I sure do wish we had known that earlier because I think we would have been a bit more proactive.
Fast forward 7 months, and though our our chinni papa is in solid command of English, the only Telugu word she seems to say is “awnu,” and really it comes out as “awn,” so I can’t really be sure that’s what she’s saying. As this disparity grows, I’m acutely aware of the the main reason for this: the inequality of her language exposure: (i.e. almost entirely English, minimal Telugu).
We weren’t able to do a Telugu nanny in the end so the majority of her Telugu exposure comes from her dad (when he remembers), or me, when my minimal Telugu suffices (e.g. pointing out the pedda kukkas or chinna kukkas as we walk down the street, or counting our way up the stairs, etc.). We do listen to Telugu music at home, and our nanny is supposed to have it on a good deal (through Tandora on our iPad, mostly, but also some nursery rhymes and songs on YouTube sometimes too). We also have the Telugu Baby Hindustani, though she’s only seen it once because we don’t have the TV on much). )
In the absence of tons of Telugu Children’s books (though you must check out Gnaana’s books if you haven’t already), I’ve taken to creating some of my own. Admittedly, it’s just as much about teaching me as teaching my daughter, but isn’t that the beautiful part about it?
I pulled out my trusty painter’s tape and a colored Sharpie and started adding Telugu translations to first-word books like this. In addition to being a great and inexpensive way to teach Telugu, it’s been fun to do, too! It takes me back to middle school French. Love it! Now if I could just find accurate Telugu translations that aren’t in the Telugu alphabet!