Shamsena started in 2008. Back then, I was new to motherhood, living abroad, and married to a non-Arabic speaker. I was never able to find books or songs that kept me interested and engaged in practicing Arabic with my baby. It all felt like work.
I started observing other families from other countries. Our efforts were the same. We all read books, sang songs, and played games. Why do they make it look so easy? This is when it hit me: They are reading the way they speak. I wasn't. I was constantly translating books from FussHa to Egyptian dialect in my head. It was unnecessary work that drained much of the fun from my experience. It didn't feel natural. So, I started creating books in Egyptian dialect to read with my daughter. Ones that we could both enjoy. It made all the difference.
As a teacher with special interest in language acquisition, I needed to test this further. I started writing more books, making up / translating songs, and teaching Arabic to non-natives.
As I shared my experience with family and friends, I quickly realized that many other families were struggling with the same problem. Some gave up on the language completely.
When I shared my solution, even close friends were skeptical at first. After all, it was a new concept. But everything changed once they started reading these books to their babies and toddlers. Almost instantly, I noticed parent after parent relax, smile, and actually enjoy the reading process and the ease of the familiar language. In return, children left what they were doing and came over to listen to the story, then asked to read it again.
I started printing books for friends and family on demand, then local bookstores, and for a while even on Amazon. Now, Shamsena's books are enjoyed by Egyptian families worldwide, especially with the addition of our YouTube channel featuring songs and stories. This is so heartwarming to me!