Wednesday, September 20, 2023

A World of Ways to Explore World Literature for Young Readers

For our third post celebrating World Kid Lit Month 2023, translator and translation activist Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp brings us up to date with the new books on the blog, and highlights some of the amazing ways readers have been celebrating #WorldKidLitMonth offline in the real world... Thank you, Ruth!

On the blog this week...

Ekram Abdelgawad explores emotional connections between YA from Palestine and Japan… “After reading Thunderbird 2 and Soul Lanterns, I realized that the protagonists, Noor and Nozomi, have things in common. They are almost the same age. They are girls who care about their communities. They suffered losses and aspired for love and affection from people around them. They are kind, smart and willing to do things to make a difference. There must be some characteristics of a girl that is destined to save the world. I think Noor and Nozomi have them.”

15 Sept: Publishing translated children’s books in Wales
Megan Farr introduces “three children’s books that have been recently translated into Welsh or English from other languages and published in Wales, importing children’s literature from French (Québec), German (Switzerland) and Latvian (Latvia). Each book was discovered in different ways, Y Lloches (L’abri/The Shelter) via a reader recommendation; Y Parsel Coch (Das rote Paket/The Red Parcel) via a translated children’s literature panel discussion and Dog Town (Maskačkas stāsts) via recommendation through Latvian Literature. All three books enrich the children’s literature in Wales, s, bringing stories of refugee bears, a parcel that spreads kindness and talking dogs that save a district from gentrification.”

Shimanto (Robin) Reza: “It is of course weird and probably illegal to judge a book by its translator. But like Tess in My Especially Weird Week with Tess, I kind of like weird, so what the heck. By the end of Anna Woltz’s middle-grade novel – brilliantly rendered into crisp and punchy English prose by Annie M.G. Schmidt translator David Colmer – you’ll know that you need to dare to do things your own way to reach others. The Starling’s Song by Octavie Wolters, Englished by the prizewinning Michele Hutchison, takes us on a winged tour of the mysteries of our world. Where the starling charms us with its lyrical wisdom, Garré and Huysmans in The Wonderful World of Water, translated by versatile non-fiction translator Anna Asbury, kindle our wonder with their scientific elegy to H2O, the humble molecule of life.”

The inaugural Translator Coordinator for SCBWI Canada East, Kelly Zhang writes: “In Chinese culture, communal living and multi-generational households have been popular and commonplace since ancient times. Even in today’s fast-paced, urbanized society with smaller core family units, parents who are busy with work regularly send their kids to the care of the grandparents. Grandmas naturally become the best friend/playmate and trusted guardian of their grandchildren, enriching their lives with love and joy as they grow up. Here is a selection of Chinese picture books that portray several such wonderful grandmas and showcase the amazing, unique ways they share their light with their families and communities.”
20 Sept: Monstrously Good Books
Elementary school teacher and globe-trotting picture book fan Lori of Kids Read the World (where they have hit 67+ countries already, with many more to come!) writes: “What comes to mind when you hear the word monster? I usually think of a scary, evil creature that is trying to do someone harm. As the picture books we’re going to look at today show us, monsters can come in many forms. However, they also show us that monsters can be defeated, even the imaginary ones, which are sometimes the scariest. These books would be great to read with fearful little ones who need a safe place to talk about what’s scaring them, as well as those who like a little suspense in their stories.”

What's happening in World Kid Lit Month 2023? Highlights from around the world!

From reading an international picture book with a small relative, to a bilingual reading in your local library, to a book thread on social media … There are a myriad of ways people are engaging with world literature for young people. You can join in any time!
Growing year on year, #WorldKidLitMonth is finding ever more fans on social media, with bookstagrammers and others exploring world literature for kids, such as in these reels from
@abc_africanbooksforchildren, and @attic.anne who shares the books she discovers while playing #WorldKidLitMonth bingo!
Libraries have been sharing pictures of their international displays and events for children, such as Orpington Library, London, where young people explored what it means for a book to be translated from another language during their #WorldKidLitMonth-themed Chatterbox book club session.

Over at Words Without Borders, translators and world kid lit aficionados Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Kelly Zhang and Hongyu Jasmine Zhu take us on a tour of Asia with the best of translated Asian literature for young people, including picture books, middle-grade and YA fiction, and graphic novels from South Korea, China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Turkey, Indonesia and Japan.
This September sees the launch of a new imprint for children’s books in translation! Transit Children’s Editions is a new imprint from San Francisco-based Transit Books, highlighting bold, imaginative, visually distinctive children’s books from around the world, coming September 2023. Check out their first translations from Danish, Korean and French over at their new website.
The National Nordic Museum in Seattle hosted a #WorldKidLitMonth themed panel discussion “Bringing Nordic Children's Literature to an English Readership”. “Pippi Longstocking and the Moomins continue to be favorites among English readers young and old.” In this panel discussion hosted by Kirkus Reviews’ Laura Simeon, three children’s literature experts - Mia Spangenberg, Lotta Gavel Adams and Dr Elizabeth DeNoma - discussed “aspects that make Nordic children's literature unique as well as the challenges and opportunities for bringing Nordic children's literature to English language audiences in the current publishing climate.”
Jill! Reading Series continues its annual #WorldKidLitMonth celebration with translators’ readings, including Kelly Zhang reading from the contemporary middle-grade novel Tilted Sky by Yao Emei, which she translated from Simplified Chinese and Melody Shaw, sharing her translation of the German picture book When Dad's Hair Took Off by Jörg Mühle, and Karen Marston, sharing ‘La Forêt de Yara’ (‘Yara’s Forest’) by French author Aurore Gomez. You can find these readings on the Jill! YouTube channel, as part of their #WorldKidLit2023 Playlist.

Over in the UK, children’s newspaper The Week Junior explored children’s literature translation in an interview with children’s author, translator and World Kid Lit blog co-editor Jackie Friedman Mighdoll. “It can take a few tries to match up a Japanese sentence with English,” she writes. “Japanese has more onomatopoeia than English does. There are also expressions that wouldn’t mean much to English ears. In Japanese, a fox says ‘kon kon’ - but what does a fox say in English? Rabbits go ‘pyon pyon’, which is really the sound of the hopping!”

These are just a few of the many ways that #WorldKidLitMonth has been taken up by various communities and organizations across the English-reading world.


This is the third of four posts by the World Kid Lit team this September! Read all four posts!

It’s September! Welcome to World Kid Lit Month!

We're Almost Halfway Through World Kid Lit Month 2023!

A World of Ways to Explore World Literature for Young Readers

World Kid Lit Month 2023 - September is such a full month!

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a literary translator working from Arabic, German and Russian in English. A passionate advocate of world literature for young people and diversity in children's publishing and education, she is co-editor of ArabKidLitNow! and Russophone Kid Lit blogs, and writes about global reading for young people at World Kid Lit, Words Without Borders, and World Literature Today. She also promotes language learning and creative translation for young people through her workshops in schools.

Helen Wang is a UK-based translator of children's literature from Chinese to English. Her best known translation is the novel Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, 2016. She runs the blog Chinese Books for Young Readers.


No comments: