World Kid Lit Month is an annual celebration of world literature for children and teens, especially fiction and nonfiction translated to English from other languages.
On social media, in schools, libraries, bookshops and at home, September is the time to get reading beyond our borders, and to think about how books can broaden our horizons. It’s an opportunity to explore what’s out there in translation from other languages, and to highlight English-language books first published elsewhere. September is the perfect time to set off on a journey around the globe by book!
In the US, September is National Translation Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. Over in Europe, European Day of Languages also falls in late September, and worldwide there is a celebration at the end of the month for International Translation Day, and what better way to celebrate all of these occasions than by exploring and sharing recommendations of books by authors from non-English speaking regions of the world?
Why celebrate #WorldKidLitMonth?
There are many reasons but here are our top three:
1. Children deserve to feel they and their families are represented in the books they encounter at school and in the library, and that includes reflecting ethnic diversity, disability and neurodiversity, diverse family structures, and also cultural and linguistic diversity.
2. Books translated into English from other languages are a window onto the world. Only 5% of the world’s population speaks English as a main language, so if we encourage young people to read in translation we vastly open up the range of authors and perspectives on offer.
3. Highlighting the work of authors, illustrators, poets and graphic novel artists who work in languages other than English, and their translators, is a powerful way to value other languages and raise young people’s perceptions of their own language skills. Reading books from other countries and originally written in other languages can be an inclusive way to centre readers’ multicultural experiences and family heritages.
Ways to mark #WorldKidLitMonth in your library
Create a #WorldKidLitMonth display. You may be surprised how many books in translation you already have on your shelves. Take a look at our downloadables page for book lists including 20th century classics you’re likely to have in stock already and some more recent big hits including ALA Batchelder Award winners.
If you make a table or shelf display, please do share your pictures on social media with hashtag #WorldKidLitMonth. It’s of so much value to the library and education community across the English-reading world to see which books you’ve sourced, and to see where popular books are from (readers don’t always know, because publishers don’t always make it obvious!)
If you have some wall space for a map of the world you could print out cover photos and show where different books come from. A great way to really visualise what we mean by global literature!
Travel the globe by book. Perhaps each member of staff could pick a country and read a book that originated there; you could decorate your world map with staff reviews. Or you could hold a workshop for local children, where each chooses a country they would like to visit (perhaps they have a family connection, or a sports-related reason). Then they search the library catalogue or the following resources to find a book from that country, or by an author from there. They could come back the following month to share their book review on your world map!
Use our resources to tailor your library collection to the people that use it. You can search the World Kid Lit website by language, country, region and age group. If you’re looking for bilingual books, take a look here. You’ll also find a list of this year’s new releases: children’s and YA books in English translation from over 25 languages, published in 2021.
Get involved with the #WorldKidLit community
We would love to interview more librarians and teacher-librarians for the World Kid Lit blog! Please tell us how you include international children’s books in your collection, which translated children’s and teen books have proven popular, and how your library has marked #WorldKidLitMonth. There’s also a very active discussion group on Facebook where we always welcome book recommendations and news of events relating to international children’s and teen literature.
Sourcing children’s books from around the world
- Winners of the ALA Mildred. L Batchelder Award for children’s books in translation
- Outside in World: search for translated books by country of origin
- Global Literature in Libraries Initiative: children’s book reviews every #WorldKidLitWednesday
- School Library Association (SLA) Riveting Reads: A World of Books in Translation, ed. Daniel Hahn and Joy Court
- Search the World Kid Lit website for books by age category, by country of origin, language of origin, and you’ll also find reading lists for regions of the world
Feel free to use the comments to talk about your favorite translated book or how you’ve promoted world literature in their libraries. And don’t forget to share pictures on social media with the hashtag #WorldKidLitMonth.
Today’s guest blogger is Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. Ruth is co-editor of World Kid Lit blog and one of the many volunteers who manage the World Kid Lit social media. She is a literary translator, who translates fiction and non-fiction from Russian, German and Arabic. She has translated children’s books from Germany, Morocco, Palestine, Russia, Switzerland and Syria. Ruth is also co-editor of Russian Kid Lit blog and ArabKidLitNow.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.