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Humanities 2019, 8(1), 48;

Children’s Literature in Translation: Towards a Participatory Approach

Department of Literature, University of Antwerp, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Received: 8 January 2019 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Narratives as Transnational Cultural Heritage)
PDF [228 KB, uploaded 6 March 2019]


In the Netherlands and Flanders, more or less a fifth of all children’s books are translations. The decision of what gets translated and funded is, for the most part, informed by adults’ decisions. This paper offers a first step towards a more participatory approach to the translation of books for young readers by investigating children’s understanding of translation processes and the criteria that they put forward as desirable for the international circulation of children’s books. It presents the findings from interviews and a focus group talk with child members of the “Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen”, a children’s jury in which the jurors read both original and translated works. While the children did not always realize which books were translated, they did express clear views on their preferred translation strategies, highlighting the potential to learn about other cultures while also voicing concern about readability. They cared less about exporting their own cultural heritage to other countries, and put the focus on the expansion of interesting stories to read as the main benefit of translations. While this project still involved a fairly high level of adult intervention, it makes clear the potential of children to contribute to decisions about the transnational exchange of cultural products developed for them. View Full-Text
Keywords: Children’s literature; translation; participatory approach; cultural exchange Children’s literature; translation; participatory approach; cultural exchange
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Joosen, V. Children’s Literature in Translation: Towards a Participatory Approach. Humanities 2019, 8, 48.

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