Tell me about children’s books (and I might give you a free book)

Finished book

Since I started my quest to read the world, I’ve encountered all sorts of literary explorers. I’ve had messages from people doing their own round-the-world trips on different timescales and with contrasting criteria to mine. I know of bloggers engaged in sampling the literary offerings of particular regions or continents, or of all the nations playing in the world cup. And I’ve heard from people who are trying to find international books from particular genres. (I even got an email not so long ago from someone set on reading a horror novel from every state – a particularly dark quest, as he pointed out!)

Perhaps the most common inquiry I receive from prospective world readers, however, concerns children’s books. I’ve lost track of the number of parents and teachers who have written to me asking for advice on resources they can use to help youngsters read more widely. It’s great to know that so many children are surrounded by adults keen to help expand their imaginary universes in this way.

Although during my quest I only read two books aimed specifically at children (my choices for Dominica and for the Central African Republic) and one YA novel (Samoa), my literary adventures have brought me into contact with a number of great projects exploring children’s literature from around the world. In the UK, for example, the wonderful Outside In World organisation has done a lot to bring more great books onto British children’s radars. Meanwhile in New York, this list compiled by Marianna Vertsman at Mid-Manhattan Library is a great starting point. There are also some wonderful personal projects, such as the Read Around the World section on mother-of-three Amy’s Delightful Children’s Books blog.

In my reading this year, I was also enthralled by Helen Wang’s wonderful translation of Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower, a glorious children’s story set in rural China during the Cultural Revolution. I made it my April Book of the month and I’ve been very pleased to see that it’s been getting some much deserved attention in the UK Independent and Guardian newspapers this week.

But, as you’ve probably gathered from this project, I’m a great believer that you can never have enough book recommendations. So I thought I’d see what you’ve got to add to the discussion of children’s literature from beyond the English-speaking world. And because it’s the festive, gift-giving season in many parts of the planet and I’m feeling generous, I thought I’d offer you the chance of getting a signed copy of my book in return.

Simply leave a comment below giving the title and author of your favourite children’s book written in a language other than English, and up to four sentences about why you like it. Your recommended title can be available in translation or yet to be translated, and it can be a picture book or full of words. My main criteria are that you love it and that it’s good.

On January 1 at midday UK time, I will read through all the entries and choose my favourite, most persuasive book pitch. And that person will get a signed copy of the UK edition of my book, Reading the World (pictured above). I’ll even personalise the dedication and post it to you and everything. So go on, tell me what children’s stories we English-language readers are missing.

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED. CHECK BACK SOON FOR THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WINNER

50 responses

  1. Hi. On a recent family holiday to Iceland we read The Story of the Blue Planet by Andri Snaer Magnason (http://www.andrimagnason.com/books/the-story-of-the-blue-planet/).
    As we drove around the island our two daughters (aged 11 and 9) took turns reading it aloud. It manages to be both fun and joyful while also containing some provocative messages about the nature of happiness, integrity and selfishness. Imaginative, evocative and moving, the whole family loved it and we’ve already given copies as gifts to friends.

    • The book of my childhood , the book which will always remind me about all of the kind and funny adventures of childhood time “Toreadors from Vasyukivka” . It’s Ukranian book which has been translated into twenty languages and was included into the Special Honored List of Andersen as one of the most prominent works of the world literature for children.
      As Ukrainian, I would definitely recommend this incredible stories about 2 young boys and their crazy adventures !

  2. Ciresarii – or to translate it loosely The Chevaliers of Cherry Street – by Constantin Chirita, is a series of five books for slightly older readers, nearing their teens. It’s about a group of friends discovering the world and each other. Written in the 1960s, it is refreshingot ly ideology free and each book takes place in a different part of Romania – mountains, seacoast, towns – with adentures and discoveries of all kinds. A more nuance, poetical and interesting version of Famous Five. Sadly, it’s not been translated into English, but I would love my children to be able to read it at some point. I may even have to translate it before they outgrow it!
    Here’s a link to a FB page in English about it (not mine):
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.627762403958722.1073741880.535498603185103&type=3

  3. The list you linked already had Astrid Lindgren (Ronia is my favourite, though I much loved Pippi as a child too. Mio My Mio was heartbreaking – stopped reading it as a child and then picked it up later again…).

    I didn’t see Michael Ende’s name on the list. Many people do know his Neverending Story (at least in film form), but my favourite of his is Momo, which has a message that is more relevant than ever (the book is from 1973). Its subtitle, in German, translates as “the strange story of the time-thieves and the child who brought the stolen time back to the people”.

    Miyazaki Hayao has a list of 50 books for children too: https://www.librarything.com/list/6990/all/Hayao-Miyazakis-50-Recommended-Childrens-Books. A good number of them is English, but there’s are non-English language ones too. Erich Kästner’s The Flying Classroom we read as a family when I was a child (plus many of his other books). I do wonder if his books might feel dated now, but I remember laughing a lot when we were reading them.

    • Michael Ende is amazing. Momo is a great story, as is The Night of Wishes. And anyone who only knows the Neverending Story through the movie really needs to check out the book as well.

  4. All the books for kids by Maria Elena Walsh and Misia Pepa by Constancio C. Vigil are nice books from my country Argentina. When I was a child I also loved, and I still love, Kildina by Maria de Rumania, Babar by Jean de Brunhoff and all the Naricita series by Monteiro Lobato. Best regards!

  5. Probably the best known children’s book in Romania is “Amintiri din copilarie” (Childhood Memories) by Ion Creanga. However, only a small part of it is easily understood by children. Told by the now adult narrator, Childhood Memories looks back on the youth years of a boy from the mid 1800s Moldova (the eastern part of Romania). It is better read by an adult, but shorter and more reading friendly versions of the book are available for children as well.

  6. The late Valdimir Suteev, regarded as the founder of animated cartoon industry in the erstwhile Soviet Union, has authored a number of illustrated stories involving animal characters. providing both the endearing text as well as amazing illustrations which bring back the reader to each of the stories so so many times. Several of these, like Under the Mushroom, The Chicken and the Duckling, Different-sized Wheels, and Who said “Meow” had been complied into a volume and translated into more than 36 languages across the world. One such translation found its way to my mother tongue Malayalam under the title ‘Kuttikathakalum Chithrangalum” meaning ‘Little Stories and Pictures’, and remains my all time favourite comfort read from childhood on. I know that most of the readers of my generation treasure the memory or (the lucky ones) even a copy of the book even several years after our childhood was packed off to the attic in a schoolbag; check out some illustrations here, the text is in Romanian in this piece.
    http://booksofsovietunion.blogspot.in/search/label/%E0%B4%95%E0%B5%81%E0%B4%9F%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%9F%E0%B4%BF%E0%B4%95%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%95%E0%B4%A5%E0%B4%AF%E0%B5%81%E0%B4%82%20%E0%B4%9A%E0%B4%BF%E0%B4%A4%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%B0%E0%B4%99%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%99%E0%B4%B3%E0%B5%81%E0%B4%82

    • I love those stories! And now my 5 year old also loves them 🙂 The collection is called ‘Vidám mesék’ (Fun Tales) in Hungarian. The Chicken and the Duckling is my all-time favourite from this book 🙂

  7. Hi Ann,
    I love’d your idea and just found out about you through the Ted Talk that you gave. Being a young adult (or am I really still at the age of 25 ?! ) I still love childrens books. I’m from Germany and my favorite author by far for kids books is “Cornelia Funke” my favorite being “Tintenherz”. I know some of her books have been translated into english, all of them are great. She makes up fantasy worlds and during the read you almost feel home there, falling in love with the characters. I guess you could call her the german J.K. Rowling (yes I’m a Potterhead).
    Also I like “Jostein Gaarder” as an norwegian author for kids books a lot. His most famous being “Sophies World” (should be translated really). My favorite of him though is “Das Kartengeheimnis”. Gaarder likes to give his stories a twist and the storyline is sometimes difficult to follow, yet fascinating.
    I just realized that I have also read a YA book from an italian author named “Federico Moccia”. The book I loved and read about 3 times during my adolescence is called “tre metro supra il cielo”. I’ve read it in german (my native language). It’s the only book of him translated into german, even though he wrote quite a couple more.
    I loved that book because of the fascinating love story of a first love, in the modern Rome, yet a plot similar to the good old Romeo-and-Juliette story. Every time I read it, I want to go back to puberty and relive those most emotional days of uncertainty and pure love, romance and freedom.

    Hope I could help you, and let me know what you think. 🙂
    Merry Christmas, Anna

  8. In Catalonia we have both a traditional song and tale known by every kid called “El Gegant del Pi” the Giant of the Pine. Giants are very popular because in almost every town or city we have giants that dance during the city parade on its festivity day. I love it because kids love it. They sing the song and enjoy the story. I leave you here some links about the song with some explanation, a city parade with giants dancing and the front cover from one of the different editions of the book.

    http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=1794

    http://online.abacus.coop/ca/el-gegant-del-pi.html

    • Yeah! I was thinking about that one! Hahaha what a coincidence, it is one of my favourite books since I was a little child

      Zoel Hernández | zoelhernandez.wordpress.com

  9. The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer. A slim but powerful middle-grade novel, available in English translation (from Dutch), about a boy’s observations of family life in Amsterdam shortly after the Second World War. Honest depictions of domestic violence are tempered by a sense of the magical and exquisite imaginative forays. Like all of the greatest children’s books, it is a true gift for adult readers, too!

  10. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a gem of a book. It was originally written in French, and I learned about it last year from some Korean friends who loved the story and said I MUST read it soon – which seems to me proof of the story’s substance: it is beautiful and moving in multiple languages. One other reasons I love this book is that it is at once profound and yet extremely simple, and shows some of the beauty of childhood that is often lost in adulthood. And the Little Prince himself – it is impossible not to love this pure-hearted, gentle yet spunky protagonist, and to love his own love for his little flower on his home planet.

  11. I won’t win a book off you – but I can tell you (with a little pride) that I have been researching and reviewing South African children’s literature since 1976. My “Bookchat” comments started as a magazine, metamorphosed into a website, and is now a bi-monthly newsletter. Keep up your good work. We need more people like you spreading news of good books for young readers.

    Yours cheerfully – Jay Heale

    • Wonderful work, Jay. I’m sure you find the favourite question as difficult as I do, but are there any particular standout SA children’s books that you think the rest of the world should know about?

  12. hello Ann,i’m a student from China.i watched your ted talk not too long ago and saw the website you said,then i input it in my brower and found your blogs.i also think your idea of reading the world is so facinating!i love reading in my spare time too.
    as for the your request of recommending you some children;s books,i think maybe you can try some Chinese literature.so today i want to share you a book MAGIC BRUSH(Chinese:神笔马良),which is written by HONG XUNTAO.this book is about a poor boy named MaLiang,who loves painting som much, but he couldn’t afford even a brush. he got a magical brush from a immortal one day, the brush is so incredible that if you paint something with it, the painting will turn to real!,so he used it to help other poor to creat many useful things.
    hope you would be interested in it!

  13. Hello Ann. I came across your wonderful TED talk, truly inspiring! My recommendation from Italy is a book by Gianni Rodari, “The Adventures of the Little Onion”. As far as I know, it has never been translated into English, but the character became popular in Russia. It is the story of Cipollino (Little Onion) who travels the world after his father Cipollone (Big Onion) has been imprisoned by the tyrannical Prince Lemon. It is a story of good versus evil and the power of affection, family and friendship in the fight against tyranny… in a world of vegetables and fruits.

    A couple of years ago, some of my friends came over. One of them saw the book in one of the many bookshelves in my house, took it, opened the first page and started reading aloud: “Cipollino era figlio di Cipollone e aveva sette fratelli: Cipollotto, Cipolluccio, Cipolletto…” Absent-mindedly, I started reading along… Without looking. The book was imprinted in my mind. I can still recall the beginning, and many other bits, and repeat them. This is the reason of my choice: the book is good and I love it, but even more so, it is engraved in my heart. These books, we always want to pass on to others, as a gift from our heart to theirs.

  14. Hi Ann!

    What a great project! I feel tempted to try your idea for myself 🙂
    I work as a mother tongue teacher in the Dutch language. I live in Sweden, where it is a right by law for every child that has a different mother tongue than Swedish to receive tuition in that language as part of their school education. The main objectives of these lessons are to help the children continue to develop their thinking in their mother tongue (since research has shown that this will make it easier for them to learn things in Swedish in school) and discussing cultural identity and belonging, opening up for the possibility that a person can have several at the same time. It is a fascinating job, which I love a lot. Needless to say, we do read a lot in class and discuss the feelings, habits and thoughts described in the stories.

    Anyway, to the point. There are lots of criteria for choosing books, so here come three recommendations according to three different principles. From three different languages.

    My alltime favorite Dutch children’s book for young children is ‘I feel a foot’ (Ik voel een voet), by Maranke Rinck and Martijn van der Linden, because the pictures are gorgeous, the story is simple and brilliant and it opens up beautifully for discussions about similarities and differences between people, and the need to belong (but you can also just enjoy the silly story if you don’t feel like any deeper discussions). http://www.martijnvanderlinden.nl/ik-voel-een-voet.html

    From Norway, everyone in my family has enjoyed ‘Doktor Proktor’s fart powder’ by Jo Nesbø (Doktor Proktors Prompepulver), and the other books in this series. These books are very good for getting children to read longer books once they’ve mastered the art of reading and need to get in the practice. All othe books in the series have great pictures and lots of humor. http://doktorproktor.no/bokene/doktor-proktor-i-utlandet/

    From Sweden, I recommend ‘Manne gräver ett hål’ by Kalle Carmback, Mats Eriksson och My Engström Renman (Manne digs a hole – as far as I can see no English translation exists, but I could translate it for you if you like and the authors agree). The story is lovely as a book, but it also exists as a play and a musical story on a.o. Spottify. I love the idea of the story existing in several media. http://www.manneboken.se/

    I hope this can be of any use to you. I’ve had fun thinking about which children’s books I really like 🙂

    All the best,
    Mariska

  15. Children’s books in Kiswahili are few and far between, but we love Safari Ya Angani by Francis Atulo. It’s a story of the tortoise, who had a lovely smooth shell. He befriended some crows, and asked them to carry him up to the sky. They picked him up and flew into the clouds, while the tortoise sang, “Tunaenda kula mawingu!” (We’re going to eat the clouds!) But the crows dropped him by accident, and his shell cracked in a geometric pattern – what we know today as a traditional tortoise shell.

  16. Hi! I’m lucky to find your interesting blog, as I am crazy reading girl by myself. I’ve read almost all books that were recommended here when I was a kid, but my favorite will always be hilarious children story Toreadors from Vasyukivka by Vsevolod Nestayko. The main two heroes – two boys from Ukraine was the same as me, as all the children in my country, in the World. They could find the most interesting adventures, living in a strange soviet, not very kind to kids reality. This book was honored by a high award in Munich and in Sydney. Nestayko is our National treasure, and we are proud to keep his memory alive.

  17. I am so amazed at all of the replies! I am a school teacher and would love to have a book shelf of all of these books. I wish I could add one to the list, but I haven’t traveled the world since my early 20s, and unfortunately, I didn’t look for books. Today, 30 years later, I would. What a wonderful project. I stand in awe of your idea and fortitude. I have started a blog called Reading between the Lines (www.dsmcwhorter.wordpress.com). It is about reading and trying to get young people reading more. I attached a link to your blog on my blog because I wanted everyone I know to be a part of your quest. Best of luck. Can I get your book in the book store?

  18. Hi Ann, I happened to watch the TED talk today mainly because it had books in the heading! Loved the idea of reading the world. Growing up in India and apeaking 4 Indian languages, I had privelage of reading many books in local language even though I read books in English mainly.

    Anupama niranjana’s “Dinokondhu kathe” is my alltime favourite. Its a collection of short stories – anything from panchathanthra to folkstories from different parts of the world. She wrote those series for her children as they used to bug her for bedtime stories. But after decades, I am sure it is read by many more as myself who reads it for my son who unfortunately cannot read any other language than English even though he speaks many languages.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anupama_Niranjana

  19. From Lebanon, Fatin / The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine is a coming-of-age story about a girl who works as a maid in Beirut, and who has dreams of making a different life for herself. A sensitive and simple story about life choices, courage, and determination.

    • I second this nomination. It is a wonderfully, straight-forward YA novel in the truest sense of the word that allows the reader space to build empathy.

  20. “Die erstaunlichen Abenteuer der Maulina Schmitt” by the German author Finn-Ole Heinrich – a wonderful, happy-sad children’s story in 3 volumes about Maulina (something like Moanie… a very headstrong girl who masters the art of moaning!) whose parents separate and who has to move out of her beloved home to “Plasticville” with her Mom. Only slowly does she understand that her mother has a terminal illness which is the reason why they had to move at all. The book contains recipes for the world’s best cocoa and pancakes as well as special tricks for secret agents and is beautifully illustrated by the Icelandic artist Rán Flygenring. Unfortunately, so far it hasn’t been translated into English!

  21. I can think of 4 books- one translated from Iranian by Hoda Hadadi- My Day with the Cliuds- available with an Indian NGO Eklavya-its lyrical. Based in Iran it subtly hints of longing and opposite societal impediments– very subtly,through the last line.
    Second Pinti Ja Saboon-(pibti’s Soap) a story from a sleepy Himalayan town near Dehradun. Pinti a small boy gets hold of a soap and how that brings about a floodgate of complex emotions to the village- aspiration, jealousy, greed, consumerism and reconciliation..
    Third-The Myna from Peacock Garden by Naiyer Masood, story set in Mughal era, speaking about the love and affection between a father and daughter– something hardly spoken of.
    Fourth- Mayil will not be quiet and its sequel- Tulika Publications- about young Mayil a 10 year old girl and her diary notes- how she copes with complexities, body image issues, soon to come adolescence, parents and everything…

  22. Naughty Ma Xiaotiao(淘气包马小跳By Yang Hongying From China).
    This book is a kind of company with Chinese children who born in the 90s.The guy in the novel is very charming.Friends and me always imitate him after school.Just like Cuore:The heart of a boy,i also receive education from the book.I think you may like it.

  23. Hello!

    One of my favourite foreign language children’s books is “Le Petit Nicolas” by Sempé-Goscinny. The book (as well as its sequels like “Les vacances du petit Nicolas” is about a little boy called Nicolas and all the trouble he gets into and adventures he has with his friends. The book is light-hearted and the characters never come across as malicious, which contrasts with some of the books you could compare it with in England such as Horrid Henry. My mum found out her old copy while I was learning French and helped me read and understand it – I enjoyed it so much we bought a copy of it in German to help me learn that! Thanks to the story and the good memories connected to the book it never fails to make me smile!

    🙂

    Vic

  24. Hi Ann,
    What a wonderful project you have going here. I’m also a bibliophile and I would love to try something like this. Anyway, as to children’s books, have you read “Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskoven” by Thorbjorn Egner? (I always read the Danish version, but now that I researched it, I realized that I’ve been reading a translated version–it’s Norwegian apparently!). It was a favorite of mine growing up because it always felt a bit like coming home–there are all these animals in the forest who are friends with each other and try to avoid the fox and the the porcupine (so as to not get eaten). The plot isn’t the best part though–we always listened to an audio version of it in the car, and the songs are what got me. My cousins an I actually re-worded one of the birthday songs in it and sang it to my grandma for her 80th birthday. If you end up reading this book, I hope you enjoy!
    Cheers,
    Annemarie

  25. From Saudi Arabia, THE GREEN BICYCLE by Haifaa Al Mansour. Written after Al Mansour’s award-winning movie, WADJDA, this is the story of Wadjda, a 13-year-old girl and her mother. As both struggle under various restrictions placed upon women in their culture, they also discover the unity and strength they find in their mother-daughter bond. It is a book of love and hope, and the coming of age struggles particular to Saudi girls are expertly portrayed. It allows readers a unique glimpse “under the veil.” http://kathleenneitheraborrower.blogspot.com/2015/12/heroines-in-hejabs-green-bicycle-by.html

  26. I have watched your TEDtalk and greatly impressed by your project. What a timing to hear Mark Zuckerberg’s post about hes promise to read a book every other week!

    May I suggest “Panchatantra”, a collection of fables told with the backdrop of jungle animals. This collection dates back to 3rd BCE India. It is an all-time favorite for kids in their bed time. It has been translated into many world languages.

    Here is the Wikipedia link to the collection.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panchatantra

    Here is the link to a good translation:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/8184952597/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk

  27. We reached a milestone, a few days ago: More than a million refugees have passed into Europe in 2015. Four Feet, Two Sandals was inspired by a refugee girl who asked the authors, Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, why no books had been written about children like her. Their book portrays the courage of refugees wrapped in a tale of two girls who reveal friendship should be cherished and honored. Although this was published nearly a decade ago, this is a timely, beautifully-illustrated children’s book that will teach compassion not only to the child you are reading to, but hopefully to parents as well.

    Given my Polish heritage, I also have to recommend Welcome to Mamoko written and illustrated by Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinska. The “Where’s Waldo?” style encourages a young reader to “use your eyes” and answer enticing questions in a search for quirky characters. This wordless book also redefines to children how stories can be told and puts them in the role of storyteller. Kids usually get addicted to this book!

    I also must mention one of the most influential children’s books of all times, which originated in the Arab world, known in English as Arabian Nights (first published in English in 1706 as The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment) and also known as One Thousand and One Nights. The origins of this book is equally as fabulous as the tales within its pages—the stories were collected over many centuries by various authors across Asia and Africa, with the earliest tales originating from India and Persia. Husain Haddawy’s translation is recognized as the best source on the original style and linguistic form of the work; he also translated a second volume of the popular tales that were not present in the 14th- or 15th-century Syrian manuscript. Regardless of which English translation is chosen, this is a book that belongs on a child’s bookshelf from childhood through adulthood; children will relish in the tales, and, as adults, will delight in the innovative literary techniques that every master storyteller should know.

  28. What I’ve noticed here in Indonesia is that children’s books are mostly limited to folk tales, stories about religious figures (e.g. Wali Songo, bible stories adapted for children etc.) or translated foreign children’s books. Upon checking on my childhood collections, I found this “Kumpulan Cerpen Bobo” (lit. Bobo’s Short Stories Collection) series – a compilation of short stories by various Indonesian authors, not all of them are well-known. Bobo is an Indonesian children magazine which has a pretty interesting history itself.

    I grew up reading the magazine so I found “Kumpulan Cerpen Bobo” to be a perfect fit if you are interested in contemporary Indonesian children’s literature.

    You can find some pictures of what the magazine and the short story book series look like here:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=kumpulan+cerpen+bobo&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2tI6V4ILKAhXPCo4KHUXlA1cQ_AUICCgC&biw=1366&bih=657

  29. Hi Ann,

    as you’re supposed to read quite a lot, I keep things short. I’m not sure how famous ‘Struwwelpeter’ is in English speaking countries. It is also no novel, but a collection of poems.
    I like the dark and heavy side of its stories and the inspiration of how child education was like over 150 years ago in Germany (probably another reason you wont choose this book as there are much more interesting countries out there…)

    If you don’t know ‘the little prince’ yet, please follow RKPUDDINGTONs advice to read it!

    All the best and a happy new year full of amazing books!
    Markus

  30. Greece: Evgenios Trivizas – readily available in English is, “The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig”, though he has many other books for children in Greek (including the Loukoulos series). Lots of word play and twists.

  31. 1. Indispensable para los adultos que quieran recuperar los colores olvidados, y recomendable para jóvenes y adolescentes que ya están pintando el futuro. “Los colores olvidados” (“Forgotten colors”) – encuentro con otros mundos, culturas y tiempos. Aporta elementos éticos, estéticos y afectivos. Sensibiliza respecto a la belleza.
    Disponible en Español – Catalán e Inglés y juegos app. Más info: http://libro.loscoloresolvidados.com/
    2. Clásicos Populares (Para niños y adultos) : Platero y yo es una narración de Juan Ramón Jiménez que recrea la vida y muerte del burro Platero. http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2014/03/17/actualidad/1395057935_228193.html

  32. I’m not sure how well know this site is, but a few years ago while in graduate school, I was introduced to the International Children’s Digital Library. http://en.childrenslibrary.org/

    I just discovered your blog after watching your Ted-Talk on Youtube. I was inspired to start making a conscious effort to broaden my own literary horizon across language and translation gaps in the publishing field. I immediately though of the ICDL, and they seem to have many goals in common with you.

    Of course, you may have found them a long time ago with your shared interests, but I would feel neglectful of my reference librarian training if I didn’t at least mention it since you asked about Children’s Books. So if you aren’t already acquainted with this project, I highly recommend visiting and making a note of their collection of multi-language stories from around the world!

  33. Happy New Year!

    I know I missed the deadline but I still want to tell you about my favourite children’s book. I’m afraid the magic would be lost in translation as it lies in the words used. It is written by a Angi Máté, from Transsylvania, and she uses the most magical expressions in her book called ‘Volt egyszer egy’. It is a joy to read; the stories are short and extraordinary. There is one about an old car parked under a streetlamp, who waits every night to see the dance of the bugs around the light; there’s one about a tunnel who wished he could have tea with the trains but they just rush past every time; one about Summer travelling on a train, sticking his head out the window, and so on. Pure magic.

    Happy reading for all of you in the New Year! 🙂

  34. Hello Ann, I came here after seeing your inspirational TED talk. I had the same reaction as you did when I went to my bookshelf….mostly Anglo-Saxon sources, with some Japanese translations (as I have lived there). I most definitely want to follow your example and to read books from other parts of the world….

    But I had bumped across this topic several years ago, when I found a set of ChildCraft encyclopedias from the 1970’s at a garage sale. When I was a child growing up on a farm, I especially loved the story volumes of this encyclopedia, and was delighted to buy them again.

    One of the story extracts I loved the most was from Japan, and was called “Tom, the cat of the mountain” (Ishii Momoko, 1957). Sadly, it is out of print in English, so I bought the Japanese version from Kinokuniya. Others included:

    “The Skunk in Tante Odette’s Oven” (from the book The Talking Cat and other stories of
    French Canada by Natalie Savage Carlson, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, 1952)
    http://jeanlittlelibrary.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/the-talking-cat-and-other-stories-of.html

    “Crucita and Her Piggy Bank” (Aurora R.G de Braniff, translated from Mexican Spanish to English by Eugenia Shepperd, year unknown…sourced from 1974). Appears to be out of print – no Google pages show up.

    Another cat-related book for older children, again set in Japan, is “The Cat Who Went To Heaven” (Elisabeth Coatsworth, 1931), and can be found here: http://playpen.meraka.csir.co.za/~acdc/education/Dr_Anvind_Gupa/Learners_Library_7_March_2007/Resources/books/catheaven.pdf

    Despite being part of the English-speaking world, there are still commercial pressures at work which mean that some incredible books are being lost to the current generation of children. I think it can also be useful, in an immigrant country like Australia, for older books to show where a culture has previously “come from”. Many of the Australian children’s books I grew up with are now out of print. Some of them I list below:

    Ash Road (Ivan Southall, 1966) – https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/ash-road

    Storm Boy (Colin Thiele, 1964) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_Boy_(novel)

    The Nargun and The Stars (Patricia Wrightson, 1973) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nargun_and_the_Stars

    Pastures of the Blue Crane (Hesba Fay Brinsmead, 1964) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastures_of_the_Blue_Crane

    Regards
    Scott

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