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Lowell Schools Will Share a Book of Translated Stories

Winston Van reads from the new book of Southeast Asian folktales Photo by Tory Wesnofske for UMass Lowell
Winston Van reads from the new book of Southeast Asian folktales translated by UMass Lowell professors and community members.

Lowell Sun
By Nicole DeFeudis

LOWELL — This school year, children will delve into Southeast Asian culture with an illustrated, multilingual book translated by University of Massachusetts professors and other community members.

Six classic folk tales from Myanmar, formerly Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were edited and translated by UMass Lowell psychology professor Allyssa McCabe and education professor MinJeong Kim, with help from local translators.

"It's our pride to promote the community and help kids learn their heritage language, because they don't have a lot of access to Vietnamese folktales," said Tham Tran, a UMass Lowell Ph.D. candidate, in a press release. She helped translate the two Vietnamese folktales.

"It's a great thing, because our folktales will be appreciated not only by Vietnamese American youth, but also by other Americans," she said in the press release.

The illustrations were designed by education professor Phitsamay Uy, associate professor Ellen Wetmore and her students, and children's book author and illustrator Anne Sibley O'Brien and her interns.

McCabe hopes that young students can relate to the traditional Asian stories.

"Learning how to read is a lot of work, so why would you learn to read if you don't ever see stories that have anything to do with you?" she said in the release.

This spring, the UMass Lowell professors hosted a workshop for 30 elementary school teachers. There, they developed lesson plans to help students understand the cultural background behind the stories. Teachers will also be given a guide with an analysis of each tale.

The project was made possible with a $23,750 Creative Economy Grant from the UMass President's Office to UMass Lowell's Center for Asian American Studies, according to the news release.