Found in Translation

by Maria Falgoust and Amy Ribakove

Have you ever considered how many works in translation are included in your collection? Are you interested in adding more? If so, we hope this blog post will get you started and provide some inspiration.

Why is it important to include translated books in your library? 

  • It honors linguistic and cultural diversity and helps preserve uniqueness of cultures
  • It relates to our diversity, equity and inclusion work
  • It builds audiences for literature in translation
  • It opens cultural borders

Groundwood publisher Karen Li wrote “Part of growing up is learning how to be in the world, and translated titles show us that there are so many different ways to be- none more or less valid than the other!” and this really strikes a chord with us.

Reading translated literature can build empathy, show the universality of emotions and  experiences, spark curiosity and build new connections. What’s not to love??

Where to start when building your collection:

When you work on collection development, one easy way to keep current with the latest translated titles is to follow independent publishers and non-profits who specialize in publishing/reviewing/promoting books translated from World Languages.

Publishers of children’s literature we recommend: Enchanted Lion, Elsewhere Editions, Yonder, Blue Dot Kids Press, and Groundwood.

Publishers of adult literature we suggest: Open Letter Books, Deep Vellum, Europa Editions, and Archipelago Books.

Newsletters/blogs we like: World Kid Lit Blog, Africa Access, Words Without Borders, WoW LIT, USBBY and Center For the Art of Translation

Members of HVLA’s Sora Consortium: Check out our Read the World: Works in Translation collection. As a member of the leadership committee, Maria selected diverse books for all ages.

More resources: take a look at this comprehensive list of prizes, publishers, newsletters, and book lists we created in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Gamble. 

Where to start with programming:

Consider your programs and dream up ways to include translated titles. They can be short and/or simple! Here are a few ideas –

  • Use translated titles for read-alouds and be sure to mention the name of the translator and the original language
  • Create a display highlighting translated literature
  • Invite a translator to speak (solo or with an author)
  • Participate in World Kid Lit Month 
  • Use a translated title for a Common Read/All School Read
  • Host a Mock Freeman Book Awards/Mildred L. Batchelder Award

Panelists at ISB’s event Translation is an Art, 2022

Cataloging Considerations:

  • Tag translated works, or identify a way to make them findable in your library’s catalog
  • Include translators names in your catalog records

Things to Watch Out For:

  • Beware of the “single story” as no place can be defined by a single book
  • It can be easier to find books from certain countries such as France, Spain, and Japan but strive to include books translated from all over the world to ensure equitable representation of cultures
  • Context about a region can be important for the students in order for them to enjoy and understand some translated titles. Therefore, consider screening videos, showing maps/pictures, or offer nonfiction pairings that provide this context.

Be intentional about not only expanding your translated literature collections but also reading translated titles for your own pleasure. Speaking of which, what are YOUR favorite translated titles? Leave them in the comments.


Maria Falgoust is Head Librarian at the International School of Brooklyn (ISB), an IB school with immersion programs in French and Spanish works with students in Pre-K – 8th grade. She is passionate about bringing social justice and a sense of humor into the library.

Amy Ribakove is a Librarian at ISB and also works with students in Pre-K – 8th grade. She is committed to choosing read-alouds that are fun, but also inspire deep conversations with the students.

One thought on “Found in Translation”

  1. Love this!
    Haruki Murakami has been lucky to have such great translators for his other-worldly novels, and I love the variety of talented translators Penguin used for their gorgeous Classic Deluxe editions of Proust.

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