Category Archives: General

BICOP Representation in Children’s Books

The modest increases in diversity in children’s literature continued in 2023, according to the latest Diversity Statistics report released by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

In 2023, 49 percent of the books the CCBC documented had significant BIPOC content (up from 46 percent in 2022) and 40 percent had at least one BIPOC primary character (up from 39 percent in 2022). The number of books with at least one BIPOC creator was about the same as 2022. Those numbers continue the trend of slow growth in representation year to year. In 2022, the books with significant BIPOC content went up two percent (from 44 to 46) while BIPOC primary characters jumped three percent (from 36 to 39).

For this report, the CCBC analyzed 3,491 books for children and teens that were published in 2023.

For details, go to

Webinar celebrates indigenous writing for children

IBBY Canada and Storylines/IBBY New Zealand have combined to present a 2 hour session this Saturday from 12 noon to 2 pm. This event will celebrate indigenous writing for children and includes a conversation between Ben Brown and Jo-Ann Saddleback a Canadian elder. This event will also feature Gavin Bishop, Miriama Kamo and Tim Tipene.


You can register free here:

Literary License vs Literary Translation – Translating Books the Right Way

Meta Description: How can you assess the quality of book translations into foreign languages? When it comes to accessing literary translation services, these tips should help.

The translation of books into foreign languages can open up the world stage when it comes to marketing, but authors need to know a thing or two about book translation to get started. Generally speaking, professional translation services are instrumental in global communication. This is as true in the publishing industry as it is in other global industries. But in this context, authors specifically need literary translation services for proper book translation.

This article will help those responsible for acquiring new international books to understand why paying careful attention to literary translation is so important. You’ll also learn about how to assess the quality of book translation services when you don’t speak the language in question, to support the acquisition of well-translated tomes.

Why Specifically Literary Translation?

Professional translators have stellar language skills. But it’s how they use them in specific contexts that sets translators with different specializations apart. You wouldn’t want a legal translator to handle medical translation work in a hospital, for example. Nor would you want a business translator to be in charge of translating a literary work. This means that all those who want a translation need to understand why sector specialization is so important in delivering quality and accurate translation work and why this is such an important part of the decision as to which translation agency to hire.

Ultimately, for books, what authors need is a literary translator. They have the proper literary expertise, background, and nuanced language skills to cater to creative works ranging from novels to poems. We consider here why literary translation is such a unique and challenging form of language translation.

A. Literary Translators Find the Best Interpretation, Not the Most Accurate Translation

What I mean here is that literary translators avoid literal word-for-word translations. In fact, if they do attempt to do literary translations, the resulting translation would be even more inaccurate. They have to take into account the linguistic nuances behind every language.

Simply put, they know that creative expressions such as idioms, humor, slang, metaphors, and other references are endemic to each language. Many of these just can’t be translated in other languages. Instead, they scour for the most appropriate interpretation by finding a suitable substitution in the target language. It doesn’t have to match the source’s context but it can match its essence.

A good example are the multilingual editions of Harry Potter. Translating Harry Potter is notoriously difficult since J.K. Rowling incorporated Latin, Greek, and distinctly British references. Many literary translators have decided not to literally translate them as they were and instead localized a number of the book’s lexicon. These include the spells, names of specific characters, locations, and other references. You might know Hogwarts as Hogwarts but some international readers won’t call it by the same name.

B. Literary Translators Try to Replicate the Original Work’s Rhythm and the Author’s Voice

This is what makes literary translation particularly challenging. Translating creative expressions is a complex process on its own. But matching the original work’s musicality and the author’s writing style is a job that can only be done by a literary magician.

Matching the work’s musicality means mimicking the rhythm, cadence, and charm. This alone is very difficult as many languages don’t share the same linguistic mechanics. This challenge is prevalent in works that rely on precisely chosen syllables, namely poems.

But replicating the author’s voice also has its own challenges. Authors worked for years and years to develop their own voice. They write in a certain way and phrase distinctively to the point that their work can be easily identified as their own.

To sum up everything, literary translators have to juggle a lot of factors to translate even just one word. That is to find the most suitable substitution for the work’s distinct lexicon that’ll resonate well with the target language and dueince, mimicking the original’s work’s essence and musicality, and lastly, to replicate the author’s writing style.

The Value of a Professional Translation Agency for Literary Translation

Professional translation agencies render a multitude of translations and have a global network of translators with native-language abilities. They can even render translation for specific industries. To name a few, these include legal translation, medical translation, app translation, marketing translation, etc. As you can expect, they also render literary translation services.

Professional agencies’ vast linguistic networks mean that they can quickly source translators for the language pairings that authors need. They will have set standards in place for all those with whom they work. This means that those acquiring the resulting translations have a strong degree of assurance regarding the quality of the work.

The same applies with literary translation associations. These organizations have literary translators as their members. The members are given the resources and networking opportunities to improve their overall translation skills and to also provide them recognition.

Why Good Translations Are So Important

Why pay so much attention to whether or not an author has used the perfect literary translator? Because quality matters. Consider some of the best works that you’ve read in translation – how the copy shone, despite not being in its original language. Now think about the clunky language and poor grammar of inferior translations. Would you read an entire book that was translated poorly? No? Exactly.

Poor translation serves to alienate the reader. Someone who needed a specific piece of information might put up with poor translation on a short blog post, but it’s too big an ask for an entire novel. Quite simply, poor literary translation will turn readers away from a book. This means that those acquiring books have to pay very careful attention to the translation quality.

An International Book Marketing Strategy Involves Localizing the Book

Although a lot of work goes into translating a book, it’s actually just one of the stages to help prepare it for a global audience. Authors also have to localize their books to different markets. We actually discussed this earlier under the scope of linguistic localization. But this time, we’ll dive into the marketing aspect of a book localization strategy.

Localization involves adjusting to the tastes of the target market. The first obvious choice in a book marketing strategy is to localize the book cover. Book covers in general are important for marketability. Although it’s quite unfair to judge a book by its cover, making a good visual first impression is essential in book marketing.

Marketing a one-size-fits-all book cover with the translated text being the only difference might work on specific markets, but this is not guaranteed. Take a look at this informative article on Hunger Games’ various book covers worldwide. See what I mean? Look how different the Japanese book cover is. The publishers took into account unique Japanese norms and adjusted the book cover to make it appear as a Japanese comic or manga to be more specific.

In short, localizing the book cover means incorporating cultural preferences specific to the target market. But localizing also involves avoiding specific cultural, social, political and even religious references. Some audiences are critical of specific references and would find it distasteful if they were on the book cover. Some countries have gone even further, legally enforcing these taboos.

How Can You Assess Translation Quality When You Don’t Speak the Language?

One thorny problem that acquiring books in translation gives rise to is how you can assess the quality of the translation if you don’t speak that language natively. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can tackle this.

Ideally, you can involve someone bilingual who speaks the language of the original as well as your own tongue. By discussing the prose with them and considering their views, you should be able to form an assessment of the quality of the work you’re acquiring.

If you don’t have a bilingual contact involved, you could source the services of a proofreader in the translated language or a literary translator. Both should be able to provide you with a fair and knowledgeable assessment of the quality of the translation.

Top Publishing Markets and Profitable Languages

The most profitable language in which to publish any book is English, with the top English publishing markets being the U.S. and the U.K. But since we’re in the context of foreign languages, authors can definitely find more success in other publishing markets. Here are a few noteworthy countries where authors may find success as a result of literary translation:

1. China

The Chinese publishing industry, along with the U.S., produces the most titles annually. This is not really that surprising since they’re both the world’s dominant economies. Mind you that translating creative works from English to Chinese is extremely complex since both languages are completely unrelated.

But it’s worth a shot since you’ll be making your work known to an additional hundreds of millions of Chinese readers in mainland China. You’ll also be tapping into the tens of millions of Chinese expats worldwide.

2. Germany

Being the leading economy in Europe, it’s also not surprising that Germany is also the top publishing market in mainland Europe. So it’s worth translating your book from English to German. You’ll also be making your book accessible to regional German speakers that live in countries bordering German.

3. France

The next leading publishing market in mainland Europe is France. You can widen your success in mainland Europe if you also translate your book from English to French and not just English to German. Doing this also means making it accessible to French speakers in Canada.

4. Japan

Japan has a vibrant publishing market. Although it doesn’t boast figures equal that to China or the U.S, it’s still a lucrative market. So yes, translating your book from English to Japanese is worth it—if done right. But like the Chinese language, translating to the Japanese language is also challenging and so is localizing your book cover to accommodate uniquely Japanese tastes.

Don’t Stop With Just One Translated Edition: Final Takeaway

Translating and localizing a book to one language is difficult enough, especially for indie authors when they have to shoulder all of the expenses. But to truly enjoy international success means going beyond just one translated edition.

If the author finds success with a translated edition, they can use the royalties they’ve gained and invest it in their next publishing market. This sharing of their work and creativity means as many people as possible have the chance to read it. By focusing on translation quality for every edition, authors will be doing all they can to impress those acquiring their novels, whether that’s someone buying for individual use or for library stock.

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Are Linguists Irreplaceable as Agents in Preserving Culture and History?

In the beginning there was the word. Before the word, the world was formless and void. By letting there be light, a distinction was made between this and that. This distinction is what separates us from the less linguistically gifted. Here we will talk about how the profession of linguists and translators has shaped and is still shaping our understanding of the incredibly diverse polyglottal multilingual world we inhabit. And how that distinguished tradition may be on the brink of extinction, or else changing, forever.


This topic hits home to me — a writer for the Tomedes translation agency, an occasional translator myself, and a world traveler – as I enjoy the multicultural delights of Hoi An, Vietnam, a delightful place and a fascinating mélange of Viet tribal cultures, Chinese, Japanese, French colonial, and – last but not least — American linguistic traditions, for better and for worse. The modern fate of the Vietnamese language, and its Southeast Asian cousins, was formed in this primordial colonial soup.


Southeast Asia’s Linguistic Romance with Roman Characters


Vietnamese is the Austroasiatic language with by far the fewest characters per word and by far the most speakers, some 80 million. Most are in this serpentine Southeast Asian coastal nation but many, thanks to the tortured colonial history of this land, are flung far in a substantial Vietnamese diaspora. Originally, the Vietnamese appropriated Chinese pictograms from their northern neighbour, but colonizing European missionaries – notably Alexander Rhodes — faithfully and fatefully transcribed the problematic pictograms into Roman characters, adding a plethora of diacritics above the Latin letters to communicate the variety of tones and pronunciations of this complex language.


Thailand, by contrast, was never colonized and therefore, preserved intact its flowing language of no less than 38 squiggly characters and a healthy collection of diacritics for its somewhat simpler set of tones. Any Thai businessperson or educator will tell you that having a non-Latin character set is a deterrent for economic integration and fluency in Western tongues. Former British colony Malaysia, by contrast, adopted Roman characters and abandoned diacritics. But Thailand, despite attaching itself inextricably to its royal linguistic traditions, had the countervailing influences of tilting West and resisting its northern neighbour in modern times, currying favor with the world powers and thus gaining a head start in technological innovation and economic development.


I have a family connection to the preservation of linguistic heritage in this region. My brother Peter is among the foremost experts in the translation of traditional Lao palm leaf manuscripts, preserving this traditional means of cultural recording and this endangered language and literature for posterity. But though Lao moved from palm leaves to paper, it never abandoned its squiggly character set. But the leaves –at least some of them — have been digitized.


Holy Writ: its Linguistic Preservation and Resurrection


And how can we ignore, at the other end of Asia, the linguistic heritage of Israel, my homeland, where the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is literally enshrined as the foremost national cultural treasure, proving as it does that the Hebrew language used in everyday parlance in Tel Aviv was used and recorded more than two millennia ago by the residents of Judea, clinging to existence on cliffs above the Dead Sea and preserving their holy writ after the Roman invasion and expulsion at the time of Jesus. Those scrolls are now sequestered in a nuclear-proof bunker in Jerusalem, so great is their importance to Israel’s identity.


Nor can we neglect the sequel of that legacy as forged in the last century by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who literally raised the Hebrew language from the dead as his indomitable will forced first his family and then his entire culture to resurrect this moribund Biblical tongue to unify a nation of immigrants returning to their long-lost homeland.


Recovering Linguistic Heritages Still at Risk


Across the Red Sea in Egypt, the Rosetta Stone once shed light for the first time on how to translate the Egyptian hieroglyphics, a simultaneous translation of an edict on a stele to the Egyptian demotic script and the ancient Greek language, key to unlocking the treasure trove of the Pharaoh’s magnificent pyramidical tombs and this wonders of that otherwise lost civilization. That stone today is emblematic of the pivotal role that translation plays in cultural preservation.


That struggle is ever underway. African languages die out with each passing year, and with them this history and culture of the tribes that spoke them. Even as Brits and Americans sponsor massive programs for language teaching to cement English as the world’s lingua franca, there are voices which resist what they see as a linguistic legacy of colonialism, regardless of the economic benefits.


Swahili with 100 million speakers has some longevity assured, but less popular or localized languages are at risk of going the way of Sanskrit, among the oldest languages in the world. Nigeria considers English its official language, even though few of its citizens speak it.


Some comfort may be taken by efforts to resuscitate the Berber tongue of Tamazight, spoken by nomadic tribes in the deserts of North Africa, but long suppressed by Arab nationalist regimes. Now Morocco and Algeria have at last recognized its validity as a national language.


Machine Translation is Rewriting the Rules of Language


But these days there’s another revolution. Neural machine translation, driven by innovations in Artificial Intelligence as applied on and through the devices we carry in our pockets and hold in our hands, to make sense of the world around us. Our iPhones and iPads are the Rosetta tablets of our generation, conveying in algorithms and neural networks the distilled wisdom of all those who trod before us, and their language.


More than a hundred top languages of the world and thousands of linguistic combinations are now available for us to hear, read and voice, even if we ourselves don’t do the vocalizing. We press buttons for the magic to occur. Our personal interpreters instantly translate English to Chinese and back again, doing what previously was the exclusive talent of linguists, document translators and interpreters. Each of us can now read a sign or a menu in a language we know nothing about. We can bark instructions to cab drivers, or try to seduce that lovely Lao lass with honey words. Who is our personal interpreter who gets the rides and gets the girl? Our phones.


What is a linguist now? Who is a translator now? Will online machine translation one day replace professional translation services? Will translation apps replace translation companies? Or will translating algorithms be made to serve new masters, not replacing but supplementing the skills of human linguists, and translation companies and, in the process, perhaps, preserving endangered languages or even bringing the dead ones back to everlasting life?


Who, ultimately, controls translation technology? We do, at least for now, because we control our phones. With diminishing professional translation services or the most cunning of linguists, everyday joes have become, effortlessly and unwitting, expert polyglots. We hold the power of the word, and thus the world, in our hot little hands.


We have met the universal and eternal Translator. It is now us.

Contributed by April Escototo

UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Update

10 months after the finalisation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, here is an update on the developments and encourage you to get involved at your national level.  Many have made use of the Toolkit (available in all IFLA’s official languages) to organise conferences and meetings with stakeholders, approach your governments directly or attend events to highlight the unique position libraries hold to implement the UN 2030 Agenda.  They have also complied a Booklet highlighting how libraries are already contributing to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda and these examples will help you to make an even stronger case when talking to your policy makers.  At the same time, many UN Member States have begun the work to integrate the UN 2030 Agenda into existing national plans, or to start the process to create new plans. We urge you once again to use the Toolkit and Booklet and approach your national policy makers to ensure that libraries and the services we provide to our communities are recognised within the National Development Plans.

Updates on the process at the UN level:

The UN High Level Political Forum will meet in New York this July and has selected 22 countries for a voluntary review. This is the first official opportunity for Member States to provide a progress report on their implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and will provide an insight into the review and follow-up process in the coming years. You can find the 22 countries which volunteered online. Please do check if your country is one of them and if yes, contact your relevant policy makers to discuss the contribution libraries in your country make. Please also check the website on a regular basis as more and more countries are volunteering and adding their documentation. IFLA will be represented at this event in New York by President Donna Scheeder and Deputy Secretary-General Stuart Hamilton.

Lastly, we would like to ask you to send a summary of your activities to us here at IFLA HQ ( as this helps us in our international advocacy to realise the UN 2030 Agenda.


The UK’s ASCEL (Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians) has several announcements:

 The big news this week is the launch of Reading Well for young people at the Wellcome Trust yesterday. The book list and resources can be downloaded from The Reading Agency website and follow on Twitter #ReadingWell.

School Libraries

 A teachers’ union has voted for libraries to be included in Ofsted inspections following a survey. 485 ATL members were polled last month and the results reveal that 22% of staff say their school library budget has been cut by at least 40% since 2010. Meanwhile, 21% say the budget does not allow their library to encourage pupils to read for enjoyment. Two-fifths of staff say their library does not have enough space for the number of students who want to use it. One teacher in a Cornwall primary school said the library has become “a wall of shelves in a corridor with two chairs.” Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, stressed that the “alarming stories” of schools cutting library hours and staff, or turning their libraries into classrooms and binning their books were “particularly worrying because reading for pleasure develops children’s literacy, educational attainment and ultimately their chances in life.” (6/4) SLA

 National Literacy Trust blog: Our Secondary Schools Adviser Catharine Driver explores the importance of equipping pupils with the skills they need to read across the curriculum. (6/4) NLT Blog


 A study is being undertaken to find out whether there are links between a child’s choice of “handedness” and language development in an effort to allow earlier interventions and therapies. Children typically settle on a preferred hand at around four years of age, around the same time they acquire proper language skills. Gillian Forrester, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Westminster, said that previous research has suggested that children who are strongly left- or right-handed have “typical” language development. However, children who have “mixed-handedness” – those who do not choose a dominant hand – are more likely to be “linked with atypical development of motor and language abilities.” According to the academic, around 3 to 4%of the general population is ambidextrous, but this figure jumps to between 17 & 47% among children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs).(7/4)  TES

 A US scientist believes she has found a way to boost language development in children by 18 months. It’s a robot called AABy, and its creator, April Benasich, believes that it might accelerate language development in young children by up to 18 months. Drawing on previous research with rats showing that it’s possible to influence and even reprogramme the animals’ responses to sounds, her idea was to find a way to train babies to set up more effective language maps in their brains. Benasich is professor of neuroscience at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey and a specialist in early language development. She and other scientists around the world have made significant progress in the past five years in learning about how children acquire language. TES
 “Reading with my toddler might not look like what I thought it would. We rarely read a book cover to cover. His choices and favourite books might be ones that I am less keen on. But what I’ve learned through all of this is to give him the control and independence he’s looking for. I let him choose (though I still try to persuade and interest him in books I like). I let him turn the pages, I let him read to me. He loves it. And most importantly, he’s developing a love of books.” (12/4)  Scottish Booktrust blog

The speed of change in the publishing industry has led to the revolution of old technology existing with new, Penguin Random House chair Barnoness Gail Rebuck has said. In the keynote speech at the Quantum Conference today (11/4) she championed the “power of the book and the importance of the author.” She maintained that despite the “incredible revolutions” of the past 20 years, “nothing has changed at the core of our industry, it’s still stories and the people who create the stories, the authors, that underpin everything.” “YouTubers write bestsellers with a unique capacity to connect directly with their audience of millions of online followers which includes 75% of under 25 year olds”, Rebuck said. “Interestingly, the majority of Zoella, Alfie Deyes, Dan & Phil books were sold in physical form as if the e-phenomenon of vlogging was given substance by physicality. The Bookseller


 Controversial baseline assessments of four-year-olds will no longer be used to measure progress and hold primary schools accountable, the government has announced today. The decision comes after a study found that the three different methods were not comparable. This change to the infant assessments means pupils’ progress will now only be measured from age 7 to 11. The government said that schools have the option to use the baseline assessments, but the results will not be used for accountability. The baseline assessments are designed to be used in the first six weeks of reception class, to assess children’s communication, literacy and numeracy skills. All of the assessments also measure personal, social and emotional development. Critics said that they had led to children being grouped by ability at a young age and added to teachers’ workload while giving them little useful information. (7/4) press release

 Education Minister, Huw Lewis has approved over £70,000 for Pupils in Welsh schools to take advantage of unique educational opportunities this year’s Hay Festival. On the Thursday and Friday before the main festival begins there will be an all schools programme of workshops that will give pupils and teachers the chance to meet and work with a range of writers, scientists, explorers, historians and award winning novelists, including the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Equality & Diversity

 Booktrust author interview: “Dwarfism, dyslexia and discovering the world through books” Booktrust

What’s the point of having another shoddily-realised feisty girl or two-dimensional token wheelchair sidekick to add to the massive pile of rubbish attempts at diversity? Author Ross Montgomery on why it’s hard to write diverse – but that’s no excuse not to. (12/4) Guardian

 ShakespeareMe, an initiative from BBC Learning, will take Shakespeare into the digital world by delivering exact quotes from the works of the Bard direct to smartphones, enabling his language to be enjoyed in a new way. The ‘quote generator with a twist’ will present lines of Shakespeare to match the emotions of users, which they will express by choosing from a series of specially designed emojis reflecting how they are feeling. ShakespeareMe