We need more international picture books!

I was interested to read this recent article from the School Library Journal about “Where the Wild Books Are”, an event focusing on the translation of children’s picture books.

This discussion echoed many of the issues we talked about at the SCBWI Europolitan conference in Amsterdam earlier this month. Diversity was one of the key themes of the conference and I noted how important it was for translation to be part of the debate about diversity within children’s books. If books are translated, we have access to so many new and diverse voices.

There was a panel discussion on translation at the conference, which I moderated. The theme was “Publishing Here, There and Everywhere” and we talked about what kind of books cross borders easily and what can form barriers, echoing many points in the article above. The panel members were agent Brooks Sherman, who had just been to the Bologna book fair for the first time and told us about his experiences there; Majo De Saedeleer, the former director of the Belgian Reading Foundation (Stichting Lezen) and initiator of the fabulous O Mundo reading project; and publisher Greet Pauwelijn from Book Island in New Zealand, who also delivered a great closing keynote about the differences between picture books from Europe and America. It’s fascinating to see so many of the points that Greet made coming up again at the “Where the Wild Books Are” event in New York, and I think it bodes well for the future of picture books in English translation. Hurrah!

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