Rotorua mum Jenny Chapman is helping to teach children their first words in te reo, sign language and English with her new books.

Speak to Me, Kōrero Mai is a set of three illustrated books taking children through first words for home, family and animals.

"When other parents saw me talking te reo to my kids they thought wow, you're pākehā, so if you can do it we can too," Chapman said.

"The books make it fun and accessible, because it's actually easy. You just have to start, and starting is the hardest part."

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Chapman started signing with her youngest daughter, Hope, from 4 months old.

"It was very helpful for her to be able to tell us what she wanted.

"It was such a different parenting experience."

Her daughter Hope is now 2 years old and Chapman said she often came out with some "really cool te reo".

"I love that she does it naturally."

Jenny Chapman has written three books for children in English, te reo and sign language. Photo/Stephen Parker
Jenny Chapman has written three books for children in English, te reo and sign language. Photo/Stephen Parker

Chapman said she had been looking for a project and as she worked through the languages with her own growing family the books seemed like a good fit.

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ROTORUA DAILY POST
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ROTORUA DAILY POST
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"Hope is now set up with the tools to learn much more te reo than I can give her."

She said adults were often worried about getting it wrong, but as a child, Hope was more willing and open to it.

"It's all just normal to her."

Now Chapman's aim is to see more children engaging in te reo and sign language, alongside English.

"They are just so receptive to this stuff.

"There's lots of textbooks and programmes but not a lot you can have in a toy box or on the coffee table which are easy to grab."

She said the Māori community had been "super supportive" and she had worked with Anah Hiini, from Kōtihi Reo Consultants, to make sure she was getting things right.

"People can buy the book through my website from August 25 and I will also be hosting a stall as part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori."

She is also working to have the correct pronunciation available to hear on her website www.kiwisign.nz.

The book will have its official launch at the Rotorua Library on September 12.