September: World Kid Lit Month

WHAT IS IT AND WHY SEPTEMBER?

World Kid Lit Month is a month to celebrate world literature for kids and teens, especially fiction and nonfiction translated to English from other languages. Both on social media and in person — in schools, libraries, bookshops — September is the time to find out about global reading for young people. It’s a time to discuss why we should look beyond the books published in our own country and also how to find books first published elsewhere. Above all, it’s a dedicated time to shine a light on a vibrant and diverse area of children’s publishing which can be difficult to navigate. 

In the US, September is National Translation Month. 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. As we return to school and work, September is the perfect time for fresh wall displays and new books on the shelves, But are these selections as inclusive and representative as they could be?

We aim to make it easier for English readers to find great books from a diverse range of authors and illustrators from around the world. Throughout World Kid Lit month, we’ll be exploring four main themes:

ARMCHAIR TRAVEL

This reason for global reading is even more compelling this year during the Covid-19 lockdown. Can’t travel to see friends and family abroad? Perhaps your foreign holiday has been cancelled this year. Why not fly there with a book instead? 

This blog is full of suggestions of summer holiday reads, which you could recommend to others when you return to school or work in September. 

BIBLIODIVERSITY

At the start of the new school year, September is a great time to consider whether the books we suggest to young people are as diverse and inclusive as they could be, in terms of ethnic diversity of the creators and characters, but also disability, sexuality and gender. Children deserve to see themselves reflected in the books they read, and including books in translation on our bookshelves helps open up the world in all its multicultural, multilingual diversity.

Translated literature also opens up genres less well represented in English-language publishing, for example comics and graphic novels for all ages, picture books for older readers and narrative nonfiction. A broader range of genres and styles of writing can also inspire and appeal to reluctant readers. 

GLOBAL READING FOR KIDS WITH A GLOBAL VIEW

As we face global challenges such as climate change, movements of refugees, and the Covid-19 pandemic, more than ever we need collaboration among nations. How can a culture of reading globally foster a sense of our place in the world from childhood on? Can young people’s exploration of other countries’ art and literature contribute to a world where we interact in a more just and equitable way?

FOUND IN TRANSLATION

Our classrooms are a rich tapestry of languages and skills that tend to go unrecognized by the mainstream school system. Talking about translation as a creative process is an important step to helping young people feel empowered to be part of it: they can facilitate the artistic exchange of the future. We also advocate for more books in translation from beyond Europe, from a much broader range of countries and cultures. 

Throughout World Kid Lit month, we’ll be taking a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creative work of literary translators and asking questions such as: Why do we need human translators? What is involved in bringing a book from one language and culture to another? Who chooses which books get translated? And how much might a book change in its journey from one language to another? 

HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN SEPTEMBER

  • Join the #worldkidlitmonth challenge: read and review one children’s or young adult book translated into English from another language. It could be a short and snappy impression and book photo on Twitter or Instagram, a longer review for a blog or website, for a school newsletter, or a guest review for World Kid Lit blog – we welcome reviews by readers of all ages!
  • Spread the word! Please tell your friends about World Kid Lit month, especially educators, booksellers and librarians
  • You’ll find many more ideas and resources on this blog, making it easier than ever to pick a place in the world and fly there with a book.