TRANSLATION World KidLit Month

 


September is World Kidlit month. Julie Sullivan invites us to take part in bringing the world beyond English to our young people (and ourselves).



There are lots of English-language children's books about World War II — but have you ever read one set in Poland during that period? 

Our kids read stories about smugglers in Cornwall or a missing person in Scotland — but what about a mystery set in Peru?

If you or your child like boarding school books, why not a school in... Nigeria?


Jummy At The River School by Sabine Adeyinka, published by Chicken House

When children read a book from a country or culture that is far from their everyday world, it changes the way they view that country from then on. It's impossible not to see it as full of people like themselves. In the long run, reading books from other countries builds empathy. And in this interconnected world, that can only be a good thing.

You might want to expand your own reading horizons, but where do you start? It's not always easy to find good books from another country, and many bookshops carry almost exclusively British and American books for children. 

In 2016, a few children's translators (including Lawrence Schimel and Marcia Lynx Qualey, who have been interviewed by Words & Pictures magazinerealised that, although more and more people today want to widen the scope of their reading, it was often hard to locate good translated books, and get recommendations. So they started the #WorldKidLit hashtag on social media, and it has evolved into the WorldKidLit blog — still the best place to start. 

On their website you will find ideas for encouraging kids to read books from far away, lists of good translated books by publisher, often virtual events to attend, and ways to get involved. If you're a translator, try reviewing books or writing for them.

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai, published by Walker Books

'World Kid Lit' doesn't have to mean in translation. Books from the English-speaking world can also broaden minds. In this one, for example, the main character is a Chinese boy who moves to Australia.


September has been chosen as World KidLit Month because it coincides with
 National Translation Month in the US, and because the European Day of Languages (this year there's a tongue-twister-video contest to join) is 26th September, while the 30th September is both International Translation Day and Saint Jerome’s day – the patron saint of translators. (Jerome, also known as Hieronymus, lived from 347 until 420, and translated the Bible into Latin so that more people could read it. A legend says that after he pulled a thorn from a lion's paw, the lion stayed with him. Personally, I like Jerome because he was unusually openminded for his day and had women pupils, as well as men. He also had a great sense of humour). 

St Jerome pulling a thorn from a lion's paw

Thanks to a dedicated team of translator-volunteers, World KidLit Month has taken off, and as a result, more and more children are reading outside the boundaries of the English-speaking world. 

Why not join them? 

*Header image: Jess Stockham

*

Julie Sullivan loves languages and children's books and is a SCBWI volunteer.

Illustration: Saint Jerome removing a thorn from a lion's paw. Master of the Murano Gradual, ca 1425–1450, source: Getty Collection. Wikimedia Commons







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