Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach, is an Italian educator. He wrote “The 100 Languages” and it has been translated into English by Lella Gandini. “The 100 Languages” is a metaphor for the extraordinary potential of children, their knowledge-building, and creative processes. It is a key principle of the Reggio-inspired approach and refers to communication and emphasizes the importance of providing children with one hundred ways to share their thinking of the world around them.

It also represents the infinite amount of potential each child naturally has and each child’s individual view of their community. This poem serves as an inspiration to our Reggio Emilia-inspired center, as we are reminded to respect each child’s personal language, instead of giving them one of our own.

100 Languages


The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini)