Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Recommended Translated Books: A Longitudinal Study (1990-2000)

Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Recommended Translated Books: A Longitudinal Study (1990-2000)

Article excerpt

Each child and each adult is a citizen of a home country as well as a citizen of the world. However wonderful a concept this is, the expanded sense of citizenship also broadens one's knowledge that this world is not always a safe or peaceful environment in which to commune with fellow world citizens.

Television and other forms of mass media expose children and adults to acts of world violence, such as terrorist attacks and bombings. These events may result in fear of peoples from other cultures and countries. Due to our media-rich environment, North American children are very much aware of the cultural tension in the world. Therefore, the study of other countries and cultures is an important element in the PreK-12 curriculum. It is the authors' belief that exposure to books and other resources about countries and peoples of the world helps prepare students to become active members of the global community.

A willingness to appreciate and learn about other countries and cultures will certainly help children function more effectively in the world community. International children's literature provides young people with diverse viewpoints, a new way of looking at things, knowledge of other peoples and an understanding of common bonds that can hold us together (Tomlinson, 1998). The longitudinal study discussed in this article deals with a subset of international literature, children's books translated from another language into English and then published in the United States.

The results of this longitudinal study of recommended translated children's books published in the United States between 1990 and 2000 allowed the researchers to draw conclusions as to trends in translated children's book publication in the areas of languages, genres and subjects. Previous studies on translated children's books also provide useful information on the topic (White, 1992, 1998a, 1998b; Stan, 1997, 2002).

Children should be exposed to age-appropriate literature from both their home country and from abroad. However, the availability of quality international literature in school libraries in the United States, particularly translated titles, is limited. The dearth of international titles may be due in part to the wealth of quality books published in the United States as well as to limited school Library book budgets. Or, perhaps the scarcity of international literature is a result of a lack of knowledge as to the availability and worth of these books. As author, poet and editor Naomi Shihab Nye (1992) contends, "Those of us living in the United States often suffer from a particular literary provinciality, imagining ourselves to be the primary readers and writers of the planet." She concludes, "We need translations to he)p us value the literature and cultures of other languages" (pp. xii-xiii).

The Bowker Annual (Bogart, 2000) reported that more than 5,000 children's hardback books are published each year in the United States. Of these, however, only a small number are translations, most of which are picture books. Homing, Kruse and Lindgren (1992) of the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), a review center that receives most of the children's books published each year in the US, reported in 1991 that "The status of translated books fight now looks grim (p.4). The status had improved five years later, with Horning, Kruse and Schliesman (1997) estimating that the center had received 60 titles published in seven non-English languages. However, in the next five-year period the number of translated titles published in the US had dropped to a mere 46 (Horning et al, 2001). Although the statistics kept by the CCBC indicate that only a small number of translated children's books were published in the 19905, the researchers felt it was important to examine these translated titles in relation to language, genre and subject to determine if there were distinct features of translated books recommended for children. …

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