Project ‘Conto Contigo’ takes stories in Portuguese to children in France

The ‘Conto Contigo’ project, which since 2015 has promoted reading sessions in Portuguese in the Paris region for pre-school children, wants to extend to more cities to respond to a ‘need’ in the Portuguese community in France.

The founder of the initiative, Maria João Pita, said that the idea came when she sought, in 2014, structures to transmit the Portuguese language to her 3-year-old son in a playful and informal way.

The architect then allied with the members of the Association of Portuguese Diplomates of France (AGRAFr) and created a itinerant project of reading sessions in Portuguese for boys from three to six years, but open to “all who are interested in passing an informal moment around a book in Portuguese “.

“The fact that the project has been running since 2015 is a proof that there is a real need. There are people who need this informal context of encounter and the project responds to this generation of the 80s that is in France and also needs, with their The Conto Contigo is just one more grain to contribute to the dynamics of the Portuguese community in France, “said the 37-year-old Portuguese woman who also lived in Germany and the Netherlands.

The idea is to bring together 15 to 20 people, although there have been “a lot more people, almost 70 people” around the storytellers, one or more AGRAFr volunteers who are part of the “about four to eight” people per year “of” Conto Contigo “.

The reading sessions are essentially in Paris, but there have been meetings in the cities of Nantes, Pontault-Combault, Cormeilles-en-Parisis, among others. The objective is to take the stories in Portuguese to more localities, namely Lyon where AGRAFr has created a new pole.

“The idea is to get people to connect to the book in a playful way and explore it without any great fear, and we want to bring some new authors and illustrators alongside older ones.At the end of the session we give an object- memory, a small thing so that there is a thread beyond the session so people can continue to talk, use and explore, “continued Maria João Pita, explaining that there is still a” book basket that tries to incite exchange and ambulation of juvenile books “.

In Paris, the readings have had several ephemeral stages, such as cultural cafes, university residences, schools, the Consulate General of Portugal, gardens and even churches.

The next session, titled ‘Grandparents: The voice of love’, will take place this Sunday in the transdisciplinary space ‘Volumes’, in the 19th district of Paris, and the book chosen is ‘Avós’ by Chema Heras, Rosa Osuna.

“There is a project structure that helps the team to develop, with the support of someone connected to pedagogy and teaching, the choice of a thread of themes and the books that animate the sessions. beginning of each year, “he continued.

It has also been read ‘A library is a house where everyone fits’, by Mafalda Millions, ‘The Pretty Girl of the Ribbon’ by Ana Maria Machado, ‘Herbário’ by Jorge de Sousa Braga with drawings by Cristina Valadas , ‘This Book is calling you. (No ouves?), By Isabel Minhós Martins and Madalena Matoso, or ‘A Ilha’, by João Gomes de Abreu, among many other books.

“We have had older people coming to listen and children of all ages, there are often children who do not fully understand, but our goal is to leave the session with a few new words and sounds. 3 to 6 who are acquiring the language and they leave there having had a good time, “concluded the founder of” Conto Contigo “, stressing that it counts on all those who want to join” the wheel of the texts in Portuguese. “

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