• Lisa Wee

Books that speak two languages

Hi everyone

Meet Irene Kang. She is not just an author but a bilingual publisher. She created Spark Collection because her goal is to inspire families to learn language and culture in a fun and meaningful way.

Let's get to know Irene, the creator and a mother of a Chinese-Korean American family through some Q & A

What's it like to be an author?

It feels wonderful to be able to create something to leave on this earth, something that can bring smiles to children's faces.

Why do you create bilingual books?

To increase representation and help other families learn language. I was inspired by my own experiences and challenges teaching my son our family heritage languages (Chinese and Korean). 20% of people in the U.S. speak more than one language, yet only 1% of children's books published each year are bilingual. That is a huge gap.

What is a bilingual book?

A book in two languages, often having the same story represented in two languages.

When would you use a bilingual book?

A bilingual book combines the joy of storytelling with language learning. There are widespread ways to use a bilingual book and uses are catered to each family and their unique language journey. Two examples of using a Mandarin-English bilingual book:

1) Family 1: Mom is fluent in Chinese and reads the book in Mandarin to child. Dad does not know Chinese and reads the book in English to child.

2) Family 2: Grandma reads the book in Mandarin to child. Mom and Dad read book to child in English, and Chinese with time, learning Mandarin together as a family.

Tell us more about the story or characters within your books?

My Favorite Gift is our debut bilingual storybook. It follows a girl named Coco on her birthday, and she is surprised by the arrival of her extended family at home. The story focuses on the joy of being with loved ones as Coco says "To see my dear family is my favorite gift of all.", the line inspiring the book's title.

What languages do you speak?

I am fluent in English and conversational in Chinese. I have also studied Spanish, Japanese, and Korean.

What languages are your books in?

Mandarin-English and Hindi-English editions are currently available, with Korean-English on the way. All language editions have target language romanization to aid non-fluent speakers, with supporting audiobooks by native speakers on our website.

How do you do the translation between the dominant and the secondary language?

For Mandarin-English, I write the book simultaneously in both languages. For others, I work with a translator and multiple fluent families to arrive at the final translated product.

What can we do to help you?

Follow and love us on Instagram @thesparkcollection and Facebook @thesparkcollection, sign up for our email list at, and request our bilingual books at your local library and bookstore. Thank you for the support!

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