When Stella Boakes moved to Bath in 2010, her plan was that her future children would all learn the language of her Greek parents. The problem was, she struggled to find any books or learning aids that were suitable for the job.
“All we could find were books containing only numbers or colours, with nothing available that had a little bit of everything to kickstart learning,” recalls Stella. “And anything that we did find was just so expensive!”
Finally, frustrated by the limited selection of books on the market – and with her first baby on the way – Stella decided to use her skills as a graphic designer to create her own range of books and other products that would fill a hole in the market. “I decided to use big bold illustrations with vibrant, eye-catching colours, and chose different subjects for each page,” said Stella. “The idea was very well received and from there Icklelingo was born… and my eldest son, Luke, followed that December!”
Since those early days, the Icklelingo range has expanded to include birthday cards, board books, alphabet wall prints and more recently flash cards, available as both downloads and printed packs, covering languages including Greek, Italian, German, Spanish, French and Polish.
“While I’ve designed the products for children two years and older, we used to read the Greek one with our son when he was younger than that,” explains Stella. “In fact, the flash cards and storybooks are good for any age – and that includes adults trying to learn a new language too! I had another customer tell me she bought a book for her dad to learn Greek together with her young daughter.
“The Greek and Polish board books proved to be very popular and are now sold out, so I’ve updated them as larger paperback versions with additional pages, including the alphabet and colouring-in pages,” said Stella. “These two language versions also have phonetic pronunciation so if only one parent speaks the language, this enables the non-language speaker to read with the child too.
“The latest addition to the Icklelingo collection is a storybook called New Friends. Again, printed in two languages, I wrote and illustrated this, and hope it teaches some morals as well as a new language. So far, the storybooks are only available in Greek and Polish, but I’d love to expand on that and even write more stories if there’s enough demand.
“My youngest son, Thomas, loves that I ‘made’ these books and that they are being purchased all over the world, with lots of orders going to USA and Australia. Both my boys help out with posting orders on our way to school in the mornings.”
In addition, a 10% discount is available to readers of The Bath & Wiltshire Parent when you use the coupon code BWP21 at checkout valid until 31 May 2021.