My Bio

My Bio
My name is Sharon Levin and I've been reviewing children's literature for 18 years. I founded and run the Bay Area Children's Literature List. My biggest passion (outside my family) is getting books into the hands of children and teens. My favorite thing is getting non-readers to realize that they're readers. I also LOVE t-shirts that have to do with books or literature. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll have a click through on the above picture so you can see my entire collection (and where to get them).

March 24, 2014

Reading the World in Children's Literature

I am getting off my throne as Queen of Procrastination to actually 1) Blog and 2) Start a project I've been intending to start for awhile (as I always say, my road to Heck is very well paved).

So, obviously #1 is happening right now.  What's #2?

Well, I'm sure many of you heard about Ann Morgan who made it her goal to read a book from every country (196 is what she counted) over the course of a year.  More info at her site, http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/

When I heard about her project I thought, "How cool.  I could do that with children's books."  But did I?  NO.  Did I have various friends and colleagues say I should do that? YEP.  But did I?  NO (are you starting to see the pattern?)

Well, today IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) put out their awards www.ibby.org/   so I'm taking that as a kick in the tuchus to get myself moving on this project.

My first step was to e-mail IBBY and see if I'm still a member, if my membership has expired, then I'll sign up again right away because they will be the perfect resource for this.

Why do I want to do this?  Well, I remember taking my first children's literature class 19 years ago and we were taught "If you don't know the story, you can't understand the culture." and I completely agree with this.  A people's values are often shown in their literature, especially the literature written for children.

That same teacher (shout out to Dr. Beverly Vaughn Hock) also ran a conference called Reading the World, which was an AMAZING gathering of people who created and supported multicultural children's literature, so I'm keeping her (and Ms. Morgan's) title for this project.

I love reading and I love learning about other cultures, so this is a perfect way to really expand my worldview. 

 I served for a year on the American Library Association's Mildred L. Batchelder Award Committee (for best books in translation) and truly enjoyed it.  I can't tell you what we discussed because it's one of those "If I told you I'd have to kill you."  committees (like Newbery and Caldecott). But I can tell you that I did help 're-translate' the Batchelder winner for the year before my year.  We had read it to see an example of a winner and I noticed an awkward paragraph.  Since the book, SOLDIER BEAR, had originally been written in Dutch (which is my second language, not normally a useful second language since all Dutch and Flemish speakers speak English WAY better than I speak Flemish) I was able to check it out in its original language and discovered the paragraph had been translated incorrectly.  The publishers changed the translation in the paperback edition. 

I'm wondering why I wrote the above paragraph and realized that 1) trying to establish my creds and 2) I wanted to brag (well, at least I'm honest about it)  :-)

You may also be asking "Why is everything in italics now?"  Well, I'll tell you, it's a very deep, thoughtful reason..... I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF THE FRIGGING ITALICS!!

So, signing off for now.  The next blog will be italics free (I hope).






8 comments:

  1. Sharon, I am very excited about your project! Yes, IBBY and USBBY are your best resources. For older books, don't forget the Bridges to Understanding bibliographies from Scarecrow: Carl Tomlinson's _Children's Books from Other Countries_ (1998), Susan Stan's _The World Through Children's Books_ (2003), Doris Gebel's _Crossing Boundaries With Chhildren's Books_ (2006), and Linda Pavonetti's _Bridges to Understanding_ (2011). I am editing the next volume. (I know you know these books but am writing out titles in full for your readers who may not.) As well as Batchelder books, there are the Outstanding International Books lists compiled by USBBY. You are going to have a great time with this! Annette Goldsmith

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    1. Annette, thank you so much! Figuring out HOW to choose the books is going to be very difficult. Thank you for assuming I knew all the titles you listed (I didn't) :-)

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  2. This is exciting! I look forward to hearing about your reading journey. And yes, I have a problem with lapsed memberships too. You can call me the Queen of Deadbeat.

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  3. I'm a long-time lurker on Child_Lit -- I applaud you on taking the plunge into your project. I look forward to reading about what you're reading!

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  4. I had no idea Dutch was your first language! That is worth bragging about!

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    1. Thanks!! Flemish (which I describe as related to Dutch as American English is related to British English. Same essential language, some different words and accents) is my second language. I spent a year in Belgium when I was in high school and we still go over to visit the De Leeners (my Belgian family) giving me a chance now and then to practice my Flemish. :-)

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  5. As someone who has for years kept a list of international children's books, but has never had the time to go through it systematically (I try to read selections from it here and there, when able), I think this sounds like a fabulous project. Would you like me to post the suggestions I made on the childrens-lit listserv here as well, or can I pick up where I left off over there?

    Also, am I understanding this correctly, that Dutch is your first language and Flemish your second? Do you know any Frisian? When you come to the Netherlands, will you be looking for both Dutch and Frisian?

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  6. I love this idea! But I also think it may be very hard! I'm currently doing my own project to read a book from every country. I expected to include more children's books than I have. I have read one young adult book- Aya, a graphic novel from Cote D'Ivoire. I hope you'll post about your reading, I'd love to hear about what you read.

    -Biblioglobal (biblioglobal.wordpress.com)

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