A couple of weeks ago, a request popped up in my Twitter feed from none other than Ann Morgan, who read her way around the world:
It prompted a flurry of responses from #worldkidlit enthusiasts and inspired me to think about picture books in translation for the very young. While I believe that many picture books are designed to be shared with readers of all ages, the titles on this list are specifically aimed at infants and preschoolers. I hope you enjoy this selection!
Poor Little Rabbit written and illustrated by Jörg Mühle, translated from German by Catherine Chidgey. Gecko Press, 2018.
One in a series of interactive board books. Young readers are encouraged to help poor little rabbit, who has fallen over and hurt himself, by blowing on his wound, applying a band-aid, etc. Simple, gentle, comforting.
What Does the Crocodile Say? written and illustrated by Eva Montanari, translated from Italian. Book Island, 2018.
Little croc is off to daycare for the very first time. Despite his initial tears he has a beautiful day with the other animals at the center. Hugely appealing, entertaining and reassuring read.
Over the Ocean written and illustrated by Tarō Gomi, translated from Japanese by Taylor Norman. Chronicle Books, 2016.
A little girl stands on the shore and wonders what lies over the ocean. Ships, farms, houses, people? Beautiful exploration of the power of a child’s imagination.
The Dot written and illustrated by Gulnar Hajo, translated from Arabic by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. Darf Children’s Books, 2019.
One day, the dot starts to move. It meets other dots and together they make shapes, and then more complex objects. A celebration of creativity and collaboration by Syrian author/illustrator Gulnar Hajo.
Bicki-Books (Set 2) translated from Latvian by Kate Wakeling, Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini and Kaija Straumanis.* The Emma Press, 2020.
Each picture book contains a little poem or nursery rhyme and colorful contemporary illustrations. They’re postcard-sized too so you can take them everywhere you go!
*Click on the link for a full list of authors and illustrators.
Little Rabbit’s Questions written and illustrated by Dayong Gan, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang. Candied Plums, 2017.
Another rabbit book! Little Rabbit has lots of questions for Mama Rabbit and she has lots of answers. A lovely exploration of curiosity, patience, affection and not quite letting go enhanced by Chinese ink wash paintings.
The Farmer written and illustrated by Ximo Abadiá, translated from French by Grace Maccarone and Kelly Loughman. Holiday House, 2019.
Farming is not an easy job especially when the weather is against you. A simple, beautifully illustrated tale about the challenges and rewards of working the land, and the importance of good friends.
Which picture books would you recommend for infants and preschoolers?
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT and IBBY Australia. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com