We are American expats, voluntary nomads due to career choice, of Ukrainian and Polish heritage. Raising our children bilingual, English and Ukrainian, we have experienced firsthand the challenges of teaching Ukrainian outside Ukraine.
As we were buying books for our own use, we realized that quality Ukrainian educational materials for preschool and kindergarten age children are limited. As parents, we wanted only the best products to facilitate our daughters’ language development. Ideally, we were looking for materials that were comparable to what is available to children in the well-developed English language market; those that offer creative, modern, intellectually stimulating original content and avoid outdated stereotypes and gender roles.
We know it is possible to produce such materials in Ukrainian, as we ourselves were inspired by the creativity and quality of Ukrainian publishers such as Ivan Malkovych’s Publishing House A-ba-ba-ha–la–ma–ha and Stary Lev, for example.
It was in this context, while living in Central Asia in 2017, that we met Maria Zapadinska, a professional artist and entrepreneur who happened to be Ukrainian. Working with our girls, Maria created custom Ukrainian language activity sheets that we used to teach them numbers, letters, animals, professions, Ukrainian traditions, etc. – with great success. Recognizing that this could benefit other children, we decided to collaborate and bring thematically structured Ukrainian language coloring and activity books to market.
Smallest Scholars was created so that other parents, grandparents, family members and friends can have the same access to the quality resources we did and support the language development of little ones in their lives.
We hope you and your kids enjoy the books and thank you for your support.