Over 250 Free Khmer Language Storybooks with Pictures

Let's Read Website - Free Khmer Children's Books

In a previous post I introduced a set of a dozen illustrated Khmer children’s stories, e-books created as part of the Let’s Read initiative to provide free stories to children in their own languages.

As it turns out, there is much more Khmer material from the same project.

If you go to the main Let’s Read reader site and select Khmer (ភាសាខ្មែរ) from the language menu on the left, you’ll find over 250 books in Khmer at various reading levels.

Some have been written in Khmer, and others have been translated from other languages into Khmer.

In my previous post I suggested ways that you can use storybooks like these with a tutor so that you can get comprehensible input in Khmer—hearing the language in ways that you can understand and pick up words.

Besides just reading the story to you, you can have the tutor retell it in Khmer in their own words, read it again and ask you questions about each sentence, describe the pictures in detail and ask questions about them, and talk about the pictures and stories in relation to their own life and experiences.

With their permission, you can also record their reading and descriptions to listen to later and review while following along with the storybooks to get more Khmer listening practice.

Focus on listening and understanding before reading

Especially if you are a beginner with Khmer, I would recommend not focusing on the written language but first getting a grasp of the spoken language though a lot of listening before spending much time at all on the Khmer alphabet and reading.

With these stories the written part should be mainly a guide for your tutor to read and elaborate on so that you can gain understanding of spoken Khmer and pick up words.

Reading Khmer becomes far easier when you recognize most of the words you read through having heard and understood them many times in a variety of contexts and have a clear idea in mind of how they are pronounced through listening.

Using the stories as a beginner in Khmer

There are a lot of stories in Khmer in the Let’s Read! collection that have clear pictures and very simple texts that use a lot of repetition of words.

You can find many of them by choosing Level 1 in the reading level menu.

You may find these simple stories particularly helpful if you are a beginner in Khmer.

Again, your tutor shouldn’t merely read the stories to you, but do things to make the Khmer understandable to you as a beginner in the language and give you a lot of meaningful repetition so that you can pick up the words.

For example, they should point to the pictures a lot to make it clear what they’re talking about, and also describe what’s in the pictures in their own words.

They can also make their own drawings and use gestures and actions while using the words to indicate the meanings of words.

There are some other techniques that they can use as well, which I’ll describe in more detail in another post.

However you approach it with your tutor, remember to have fun!

Free Khmer Language Stories with Illustrations and How to Use Them with a Khmer Tutor

floating-garden-lowres-001A language learner who I shared this site’s “mini-stories” collection with suggested another great resource which you can use for learning Khmer with a tutor: a collection of free illustrated children’s stories in Khmer, available for download from the site Let’s Read! Khmer E-books.

These e-books were created by Cambodians who worked in teams in intensive one-day events as part of Let’s Read!an initiative of The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program to provide free reading materials for children in Cambodia and other countries in their languages.

While many children’s stories aren’t always suitable material for language learners, for example, using too much poetic language and overly fantastic or nonsensical elements, the stories in this collection appear more suitable.

The writing and dialogue in the stories reflect how people speak Khmer, using simple, natural language.

Many also feature realistic aspects of everyday life in Cambodia, such as details of the kinds of villages where many people live, combined with an element of fantasy.

For example, The Floating Garden (សួនបណ្តែតទឹក) tells the story of a girl who lives on a floating village and takes care of a garden that one day mysteriously floats away, pulled by a big fish.

In this video you can see the illustrations and listen to audio of the text:

How you can use these storybooks with a Khmer tutor

I don’t recommend as a beginner or even intermediate learner just trying to read and study children’s stories like these ones by yourself, even with an audio of the text.

The “magic” happens when you have a speaker of the language make them more understandable to you by describing the pictures, talking about the story, and elaborating on it in their own words

All of this creates a lot of comprehensible input that you can pick up the language from.

Here are some ways that you can do this with a tutor:

  • Have the tutor read the story out loud
  • Have the tutor tell and retell the story in their own words
  • Have the tutor read the story and ask you questions based on each sentence, supplying the answers if you don’t know
  • Have the tutor point and describe the pictures in detail—what things are, what people are doing, what is happening
  • Have the tutor ask you many questions about the pictures—for example, how many people or animals are there

With your tutor’s permission, you can record them so that you can listen to them reading, retelling, and talking about the stories again later, helping you to pick up more of the language.

While you might not understand much of the story when it’s first read to you, you will find that after hearing it told and described again in many ways, when you listen to it again you may understand it far better.

If you and your tutor enjoy a story enough, you can come back to it again and again, with your tutor retelling it and talking about it in different ways.

This provides you with a kind of narrow listening, where you are listening to a lot of material about a topic that you understand and hearing the same vocabulary and themes again and again.

This kind of listening is great for providing a lot of comprehensible input because it is familiar and understandable, and interesting for you personally.

You may also find that such stories help you and your tutor to communicate in Khmer about other topics, because since both of you will become familiar with them, your tutor can refer back to them when talking about other things to provide examples and explanations.

If you use these stories with a Khmer tutor, please share in the comments how it goes for you.