World Kid Lit Challenge – What we have learnt

So we did it. 30 books in 30 days. I’ve definitely enjoyed it and I think the kids have too. Sitting here today with an empty house I’ve got time to reflect on the challenge and what we have learnt.

I like to think of myself as a linguist. I’ve been involved in languages for years and recently made the switch to translation. I’ve always loved books and made a point of ensuring we have lots (and lots) of books at home. I’d been down the lists of what they “should” be reading and made sure we have some of those too. As I started this challenge, I thought it would be easy to find suitable books in among my shelves. How wrong was I?! We had about 5. Even as someone who cares about what their kids read and about languages, I still haven’t been representing different cultures, different perspectives and different people. Well, we do now!

And it’s been interesting to see how Dominic and Emma have reacted to them. For the most part, they haven’t blinked an eye. They have just accepted these books as books that they either like or don’t like, not because they are set elsewhere, but just because we all have different tastes. While I have searched for books specific to the challenge, they just enjoyed them as stories, particularly Emma.

That saying, I have loved some of the discussions I have had with Dominic. Being that bit older, we’ve been able to discuss concepts and situations a bit more in depth. Some of the titles, those dealing with war and fleeing, I may well have shied away from, but both kids have embraced these books. Emma now regularly asks to read The Journey and Mama’s Nightingale.

I’ve also had conversations with other people about the ways that cultures and people are depicted in books. My friend from Zimbabwe told me she had been inspired to go and hunt out some African folktales to share with her children and that they were really enjoying sharing them together. That sort of conversation makes this whole challenge worthwhile.

A review of our challenge is being included in the Nov/Dec issue of the The Bulletin from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting here in the UK. Hopefully we can inspire others to read some of the titles we have enjoyed.

So what next? One friend suggested I should continue the reviews, so I will. Not at the same rate, but I will aim to post at least one review a month of a World Kid Lit title. And I am on the look-out for new, untranslated material to prepare as samples with the hope of convincing a publisher to commit to offering more translated fiction to our English-speaking children.

Thanks for joining Dominic, Emma and me on this global journey through books!


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