With just two months to go until #WorldKidLitMonth, we share some ideas for teachers and educators of how you could celebrate translation and global reading in your school community this September!
1. Read the world
We may not be able to travel much at the moment and many children with relatives in other countries won’t have been able to visit during the pandemic. But what could be easier than travelling by book?
Each class could read a book from a different country, and as a year group you could chart the places you visit in a reading passport or a map on the library wall.
You’ll find a wealth of resources on this site including reading lists with printable book covers that pupils can cut out and stick on a world map or globe. They could make an online map like Juliet’s Book Journey.
But why stop at the end of September? This could be just the start of your students’ voyage around the world via books!
2. Explore languages through books
Which languages are spoken at home by the pupils in your class, or across your school community?
Reading a book in translation – and comparing the front cover of the translation to that of the original version – is an easy, quick and tangible way to engage with another language, even when there isn’t much time on the syllabus to study that language in depth.
Use our languages list to find recommended books for children and teens, translated from dozens of languages into English. So far we know of translations from 28 languages that were published in 2021 alone – see here for our list of this year’s children’s and YA books in translation.
If there’s a language you’re looking for and can’t find here, do ask the #worldkidlit community on social media for recommendations!
3. Write a book review
Many of the children’s books in translation are published by small, independent publishers, and leaving a short book review can make a world of difference in terms of raising the profile of international books.
Pupils could share their reviews in your school newsletter, or teachers could share anonymised reviews on social media (use hashtag #worldkidlitmonth).
Reviews could be of new books in translation (see here for translations out in 2021), older publications, old classics. You’ll also find lists of prize-winning translations here, if you’d like to start with the best!
Please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have budding critics in your class who are keen to share their reviews of translated fiction, nonfiction or poetry.
4. Translate a poem
Or a picture book! World Kid Lit Month and International Translation Day – at the end of September – are the perfect occasion to explore creative translation in your classroom!
With structured resources, anyone can have a go at translating a picture book or a poem, an extract of a graphic novel, or a dialogue from a chapter book or middle grade novel. Translation activities can be a great way to introduce or support a second language, even with very young children including pre-readers.
On our Resources for Schools page, we recommend organizations working to support schools and teachers who would like to introduce their students to the process of translating a creative text, from decoding/codebreaking, translating the gist, and editing creatively for style and register.
5. Get crafty!
Read a book for young people translated from another language … then translate it into art!
Perhaps your pupils will be inspired to recreate a book cover as a translated fiction #bookinajar, a chalk board, a painting or a collage? Pupils could research and share the work of several illustrators, one from each continent. We’re developing our downloads page and in the coming weeks you’ll also find bookmark templates for pupils to design and decorate. Let us know what else would be useful to have here and we’ll try our best to help!
The vast majority of the children’s books that are translated are picture books, and online showcases such as dPictus 100 Outstanding Picturebooks or the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators’ Exhibition are a fabulous way to explore the work of illustrators from around the world. Perhaps their books haven’t yet been translated and your pupils’ artistic activism could help attract the attention of English-language publishers?
6. Be a global citizen and make friends overseas
Does your school have an exchange or e-twinning relationship with a school in another country? Pupils could research authors and illustrators from that country, and read a book in translation that originated in that country or language. Your class could write and share book reviews of their favourite books from their own country and the country of their twinned school. Perhaps pupils could fundraise to put together a package of books to send to their twin school’s library?
We’d love to hear your ideas and those of your students! How can we explore global citizenship through reading and sharing books?
7. The book vs. the film
From the Netflix adaptation of Tonke Dragt’s The Letter for the King (translated from Dutch/Netherlands by Laura Watkinson) to the Studio Ghibli anime movie of Eiko Kadono’s Kiki’s Delivery Service (translated from Japanese/Japan by Emily Balistrieri), many classic works of children’s literature have been adapted for the silver screen. Read the book, then compare it to the film. Which did you prefer? Why?
Share your thoughts and your students’ at #WorldKidLitMonth, but careful – no spoilers!
8. Cook with a book
Combine your explorations of translated fiction with culinary explorations: surely a book is an excuse to get baking? For each country your class visits during #WorldKidLitMonth (or throughout the year if September inspires a year-long reading tour of the world), can your class sample some food from there?
Share your photos with hashtag #WorldKidLitMonth: where did you travel? What did you read and what did you eat?
9. Bilingual storytime
Are there any bilingual parents or teachers who could read a story or a poem in both the original language and in the published translation? Or bring in a poem or short text for pupils to decode and translate together?
This inclusion of home and heritage languages can be hugely empowering to pupils with more than one language, especially if they rarely see their language valued in the school environment.
It can also be a transformational learning experience for pupils with only English. Reading books from other places, hearing another language being read aloud, seeing an unfamiliar script in the context of an otherwise familar book cover … all these are excellent ways to awaken curiosity about how languages work and give young people the motivation to explore a new one.
10. #WorldKidLit for humanities
Whatever your curriculum for history or geography this year, there is bound to be a translated children’s book that can add context and colour to the subject your students are exploring.
Whether it’s the Mayans, the Vikings, the Romans, the Cold War, the Holocaust, or contemporary issues such as the climate crisis, social justice and equality, this site and the #WorldKidLit community can help you find diverse books that reflect other voices and societies, so we’re not always seeing the world from our own local or national perspective.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for please get in touch on social media (@worldkidlit). The #WorldKidLit community can usually rustle up age-appropriate suggestions of translated books to add other perspectives to your students’ learning.
However you plan to celebrate #WorldKidLitMonth, please do share photos of the books you’re reading on social media. Happy exploring!