TRANSLATION World Kid Lit Month Is September!


September is World Kid Lit Month! 

When you ask people about the books that changed their lives — the ones that really made a massive impact, and have never been forgotten — they will almost always talk about children's books. That's why I think children's books are the most important books of all.

How many books about other countries or translated books did you read as a child? If you're like most of us, not many. In my case, a favourite book was a children's Iliad and Odyssey, beautifully illustrated by the Provensens. It certainly took me far away from my home in flat, hurricane-ridden, subtropical southern Louisiana. But the Iliad and the Odyssey have been part of English literary culture for hundreds of years. For many of us, there were Astérix, Babar, Pinocchio, Pippi Longstocking and Hans Christian Andersen — but all of these books were written long ago, and they are all from Europe. Where were the stories from the rest of the world — Asia, Australia, Africa or the Americas?

All of us have become more aware in the past few years of the need to expand diversity in our own reading, in publishing and of course in our children's books. This means not only reading more widely about people in our own country, but understanding the diversity of our world better. And what better way is there to understand than to read children's books about a very different place?

In 2016, World Kid Lit Month was born as a grass-roots initiative to bring translated literature from around the world into the hands of children. It has grown year by year, and this year there are many events you can attend virtually, and resources for parents, teachers and young people themselves who want to learn more about world literature in translation. 

Translated literature is more important than ever today, when the world has grown closer via the internet and global travel, while wars still arise from mutual misunderstanding. And what could be easier, in a time of a worldwide pandemic, than to travel via books?

There is no Frigate like a Book

To take us Lands away

Nor any Coursers like a Page

Of prancing Poetry –

This Traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of Toll –

How frugal is the Chariot

That bears the Human Soul –

Emily Dickinson

Why not set yourself a challenge? During World Kid Lit Month, this September, read a book or five from a place you're unfamiliar with, a place you've never been. Here is a list of ways to find such a story!

The place to start is the World Kid Lit blog! It has many resources and links. You can download a world map to follow your virtual travels by pins. On the website there are lists that will allow you to find a book by:

Two books about Afghanistan

Stories from Kenya

Award-winners, like the books that have won the Global Literature translated YA book prize or the Mildred Batchelder prize or the Marsh Award for children's books in translation (till 2017).

There is also a list of World Kid Lit events in September. There are events both in-person and virtual, all year long. You can get involved and bring your own ideas, too.

A new YouTube channel, World Kid Lit; you can even subscribe to it 

A Twitter account for news of events: @worldkidlit

Instagram: @worldkidlit

SCBWI can be proud that some of the people behind World Kid Lit month are our own! To learn more and widen your horizons, follow translators and children's literature specialists from other parts of the world on social media.

You can listen to translators reading aloud from their work here:

There will be the first world kidlit translators social on Tuesday 14 September 18:30 UTC (19:30 BST). (Thank you to the organisers!)



Julie Sullivan is a SCBWI volunteer and translator from French and German to English.

Picture credits

Logo by Jess Stockham
Frigate by John Ward of Hull (1798–1849) on Wikimedia Commons
Illustration from The Iliad and the Odyssey by Alice and Martin Provensen

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