WorldKidLit Month

Updated: Sep 12, 2020


Illustration credits: Pablo Gallo and Thiago Lopes. Font courtesy of Elīna Brasliņa


You don't have to have known me for long before you realise I'm a true bookworm. When I think back to what I read as a child, the books I still remember are stories where the main characters were either magically carried off to faraway lands, or where they lived in another country. Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree and Magic Wishing Chair collections appealed to me much more than her other adventure series which I don't think I ever really started. And whilst I remember reading Malory Towers, it was Elinor M. Brent-Dyer's Chalet School series that really got me hooked on an extended series for the first time. At an age where I was starting to learn French and German, I was enchanted by the idea of a school in the Tyrol where the pupils from different countries were required to speak different languages on different days. I was excited to see French and German words dotted throughout the novels, words I was also learning, and the idea that the characters had friends from other countries seemed magical to me growing up in a place that rarely had tourists never mind an international community.


However, most of the books I came across were written in English, and whilst I enjoyed reading stories set in other countries, I probably wasn't reading many novels actually written by authors living in other countries and writing in languages that weren't English. The first - and perhaps only - book in translation I read growing up would likely have been The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. That's probably not surprising, since even today, translated literature represents only around 3-5% [1] of everything published in English. When announcing the 2019 Global Literature in Libraries Initiative Prize, Director Rachel Hildebrandt Reynolds noted that “Books in translation for young adults remain a tiny fraction of even those in translation.”


Thankfully interest in translated fiction for both adults and children/YA has been growing in recent years. And that's where the #WorldKidLitMonth Challenge comes in!


First launched in 2016, World Kid Lit Month celebrates and promotes world literature for children and teens, especially fiction and nonfiction translated into English from other languages. The enthusiastic team shares a wealth of book recommendations and other tips on the blog - updated daily throughout September.


Readers of all ages and educators are encouraged to get involved by joining the #WorldKidLitMonth challenge on social media to read and review one children’s or young adult book translated into English from another language.


To join in the challenge this year I thought it'd be fun to pick a book from all the continents of the world! Perhaps I'm being ambitious, but if I don't manage to read them all before the end of the month, I definitely have some armchair travel lined up to keep me going until Christmas.


I've cheated slightly by already travelling to Africa in August withWaterbirds on the Lakeshore, a brilliant anthology edited by Zukiswa Wanner that features writers from the across the continent. You can already read my review on the WorldKidLit blog here.


Since I live in Europe, my #WorldKidLit challenge will take me to:


Asia: Japan with Penguin Highway by Tomihiko Morimi translated by Andrew Cunningham


South America: Chile with City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende translated by Margaret Sayers Peden


North America: Canada with Olga and the smellly thing from nowhere by Elise Gavel (who writes in both French and English)


Artic: Iceland with The Casket of Time by Andri Snær Magnason translated by Björg Árnadóttir and Andrew Cauthery


I'll write more about my armchair travels in another post once I'm 'back'.


What are you reading? Any favourites I should read too? Drop me a comment below, I'd love to hear more about what you're reading.


And of course don't forget to join the WorldKidLitMonth challenge on Twitter @worldkitlit, Instagram @worldkidlit, and sign up for the newsletter via the blog.


[1] Figures vary slightly depending on source.



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