(Australia) – Writer and filmmaker Yannis Nikolakopoulos has launches a new series of children’s books reminiscent of the popular series, Dora the Explorer. Picture this: A little girl at a whitewashed stone window looks out to the dawn over the Aegean Sea. Today is her name day and she must prepare a Greek salad for her 24 cousins who are coming to celebrate with her. But when she tries to gather the ingredients, she finds they are all busy competing in the Olympic games.
These Greek themes are what makes these books so engaging. This is the world of Sofia and the Grammatakia, a new series of illustrated children’s books that effortlessly brings the Greek language into the lives of young children through fun characters and stories. Grammatakia Publishers is the brain child of renowned Greek Australian IT entrepreneur, venture capitalist and philanthropist, Peter Kazacos and Mr. Nikolakopoulos. Their mission is to bring the Greek language and culture to life for children all over the world through this series.
‘The Greek Salad’ is the first book in a series titled Greek Around the House, which turns the act of making a Greek salad into a fun adventure. Each book in the series will be written in Greek, English, and Greeklish so that young readers could see all three at once, which is an excellent teaching tool designed to be read in or in English (or both) by parents and educators with any or no fluency in the Greek language. The accompanying downloadable video also helps teachers practice their Greek pronunciation.The books also include cute stickers with the key words from each book written in greek. The stickers continue the lesson by bringing the characters into the real world, helping children to memorize the words.
Writer Yannis Nikolakopoulos says, “Kids love to dive deep into an imaginary universes with cute relatable characters and fun stories, but the Greek universe of thought that my father taught me is one where everything the child learns has a link to deeper truths in culture, philosophy, history, language and mythology. So, if made accessible through stories, games and characters, its much more valuable than a Disney or other cartoon universe because it remains relevant throughout a child’s entire life of learning.”
Education consultant Stephanie Kazacos tested the books in her childcare centre and is impressed with the love the children have for the books and the stickers.
“There is a lot of new research that prove the cognitive benefits of bilingualism, so its an increasingly necessary part of our curriculum. And even though Greek doesn’t have have a Latin alphabet, the emotional connection the kids have expressed around this book have led to the best bilingual learning outcomes I have observed.
Peter Kazacos, respected in the Australian corporate sector for his business acumen sees the first book as part of a broader strategy.
“The first series focusses on greek words, with follow up series that will expand the universe of characters to include Greek alphabet (the Grammatakia), myth, philosophy, history and the beauty and mystery of the Greek land. “ he states.
Yannis also points to the huge influence Greek thought had on the foundational thinkers of Western culture through their classical education. He also goes on to explain that, ““We are not focussed on the fallout of yesterday’s problems. We want to build cultural bridges to a Greece that is socially connected and economically thriving in the future. The company has a clear vision. To make one of the most fundamental languages in the world the easiest to learn, and to fascinate children with the depth and breadth of Greek culture.”