Children’s book boosting Tongan, Australian translation literacy skill

BELFIELD academic and native Tongan Ana Kautoga was travelling the globe with the World Bank doing development work and had no idea that within a short space of time, she would soon be publishing her first children’s book.

That all changed when Ana’s sister and brother-in-law died suddenly from illnesses leaving their 10 children, aged from three to 24 years, in the care of herself and husband Ratu.
“In our culture, we keep all siblings together until they get married and leave home,” Ana said.
“I had to learn about mothering fast and noticed that although the older children could understand and speak Tongan, having attended school there, but the younger ones could only understand the spoken language.
“I wanted to help the children speak, read and comprehend the English and Tongan language equally.
“And seeing as they were always so transfixed with my verbal stories, I thought it would be a good idea to write a children’s book with English translated into Tongan, in which our twins are featured, to help with their learning.”
With the children giving Ana’s book the thumbs up, word has spread quickly in the Tongan community and in local schools as Canterbury Bankstown has a high Tongan population.
“As well as a school in New Zealand, Punchbowl Public has already placed an order and invited me to come and read the book to their students,” she said.
Suitable for children aged from three to 15 years and even older, the book ‘A Little Boy Named John and His Little Bird’ (Ki’i tamasi’i ko Sione mo ‘ene ki’i fo’i manupuna) is available by emailing Ana at