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Local author hopes new book inspires multilingualism in young children.

Nara Lee's household speaks three different languages, inspiring her to make a book introducing those three languages to children.
Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-17 18:24:53-05

BOISE, Idaho — Nara Lee wrote and illustrated Benny & Friends Say Manners Matter!, a book that is intended to teach young children about manners. It does so in three different languages, English, Korean, and Mandarin.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

It’s story time. Nara and Jordan Lee at the Boise Public Library. Their book of choice, Benny and Friends, says Manners Matter!

The book teaches kids basic manners, but that’s not what makes it special. It does so in three different languages.

Nara wrote the book for her son, Jordan.

"Teaching young kids about cultural diversity by including different languages in a children's book," Lee told Idaho News 6.

Nara grew up speaking Korean and her partner, Jordan's dad, speaks Mandarin, So they have big goals for their little one.

"He will be speaking English, Korean, and Mandarin when he is of age to talk," Lee said.

According to the National Library of Medicine, there are multiple benefits to early bilingualism, including improved memory, social understanding, and cognitive advantages.

The adventurous nineteen-month-old toddler inspired the story of the book, with other characters, like Luna the Llama and Bobby the Polar Bear, coming straight from Jordan's life.

"Benny is actually the elephant that was inspired by Jordan's plushy that he loved since he was like three months old I think," Lee said.

Nara hopes her book offers families more than just a bedtime story. But also a lesson on embracing cultural diversity through multilingualism.

"Their brains are sponges; they absorb really almost everything, they copy everything that you do, they say everything that you do," Nara said.

That multicultural message, was in the spotlight as Lee took her talents to the pageant stage as Ms. Boise Metro 2024.

"It's almost like a platform, a microphone really, to have other people really listen and hear about the importance of cultural diversity and to be more inclusive, not just with the Asians, but truly any culture from anyone, from any background," Lee said.