Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of hearing about books from outside the United States from an amazing panel. The panel, sponsored by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT), explored strategies to further the goal of increasing the circulation and use of translated literature in libraries.
Heather Lennon of NorthSouth Books noted that there’s this prevalent idea that children won’t like translated books because they are “too weird.” Her counterexample to debunk this myth: Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (it was originally published in German). But what about other translated books? Does your library have them? And, if yours does, what do you do with them? The panel had some great advice, especially for those of us librarians serving children.
Westerville Public Library’s Robin Gibson advocated for finding international books to use in everyday practice—something she has written about on her website, Global Reading. Whether through reader’s advisory, programming, or displays, Gibson has shined the spotlight on translated books in her work. My favorite of her ideas is incorporating translated books in storytime and bringing out a globe to show attendees where the books came from.
Annette Goldsmith of the University of Washington suggested hosting a Mock Batchelder, a mock ALSC award committee for the Batchelder Award. Participants would create a shortlist, learn the terms and criteria for the award, read and discuss the books, and then vote. Goldsmith added that the program need not focus exclusively on current translated books—which may be hard to find—as one could just as easily lead a retrospective program analyzing previous winners and honor books.
For those who are having trouble finding translated books, look no further than the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI). GLLI aims “to raise the visibility of world literature for adults and children.” Its website provides suggestions of publishers to purchase from, among other invaluable resources. Goldsmith also recommended several helpful annotated bibliographies for selection, such as the Bridges to Understanding series and Global Voices: Picture Books from Around the World by Susan Stan.
I hope you’ll consider trying out one of these programs—I know I plan to!