Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Daily Archives: April 12, 2017

Children’s Books in a Globalizing World

Click me to check out the book, Wild Things!

This post might be seen as directed to only English-speaking folk.

Yet, I’m hoping a few of my readers from other countries will share their comments about translations into their own home languages

And, there is, now, a Translation Widget at the top of the left side-bar :-)


As far as finding someone dedicated to broadening children’s educational potentials, Elizabeth Bird should certainly claim the attention of interested individuals


She’s currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library

She also blogs at Fuse # 8 Production

And, she’s also one of the three authors of Wild Things! ~ Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature

But, for today’s post, I’ll focus on an article she did for the School Library Journal — Outlandish: Braving new perspectives through books in translation.

She begins with this:

“Putting aside the fact that these are written works for children, what do Pippi Longstocking, the Moomins, many of the books by Cornelia Funke, ‘Press Here’ by Hervé Tullet, and the works of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm all have in common? If you said every one of these was a work of translation, you have earned yourself a cookie.”

Later in the article comes this impressively important statement:

“…now more than ever it is imperative that children read books that reflect our globalized world. We’ve heard a lot about needing more diverse books for children, and it’s true. All of it. But the fact of the matter is that talking about diverse children’s books goes above and beyond the familiar. Sure we need windows and mirrors, but don’t those windows need to look out at something besides our own backyards?”

Yet later, she offers a quote:

“‘I think we overdo books as mirrors and underemphasize books as windows’, adds author and educator Marc Aronson. ‘A translated book is precisely a window into another way of thinking and seeing.’ And when we miss out on seeing the world through the eyes of someone who is actually from that country, we deny ourselves the chance to experience a culture from within a story.”

Then, after a meaty discussion of the problems and troubles that can be encountered in even trying to get books for children translated, she says this:

“To make the ‘other’ recognizable, not just to children, but to teachers and librarians, is to work with translated literature. As we raise the next generation of readers, we must work to help them be open to the world. To do this, they need to hear world voices and to see alternatives to their own way of life. In the end they may still value their own country, but learning about other cultures, straight from the horse’s mouth, adds a richness to their perspectives.”

And, while I earnestly encourage you to go read the full article (there’s much to ponder), I know many blog readers don’t take links; so, here are some of Elizabeth’s final comments:

“…consider taking to heart National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang’s recent Reading Without Walls Challenge. In May 2016, he introduced an initiative that challenges people to read a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you, read about a topic you don’t know much about, and read a book in a format you don’t normally read for fun. Global children’s literature is a perfect fit for this experiment.”

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