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The Need for Translating Children’s Literature

The literature of any culture says much about the attitudes and mindset prevailing in its society. It plays a significant part in augmenting intercultural understanding. Translations of literature from other cultures open up new windows, fill the gaps for readers and allow them to explore fresh avenues. Recently, children’s literature has been much researched with relevance to the importance that it has in shaping the thoughts and brains of children.

Translating children’s literature requires the same gravity as does any other form of literature. Today, a large number of translations have been devoted to children’s literature. Translating the literature of children is somewhat similar to that of translating other literary texts, yet it also has some of its own exclusive features.

There are some important factors that prompt translations of children’s books and literature. Klinberg identified some aims of these translations. The most significant ones that he discusses relate to enhancing children’s international perspective, comprehension, and emotional understanding of various other cultures and environments through these translations. According to Carus, the sooner children are introduced to foreign cultures, the more open-minded they will be when they grow up. Translations allow children to study the viewpoints of other cultures. They learn to observe the differences and similarities present in them. By encouraging understanding in children regarding these differences and similarities, children can learn to understand their own selves better.

Translators of children’s books face some difficult issues. As children are not expected to have the same level of knowledge regarding foreign cultures as adults, the translator has to decide whether some books meant to be translated from another culture are appropriate for children as readers. It is up to translators to consider whether children will receive the translated text with familiarity or whether an adaptation of the original text with context to the local culture would be a better option. The translated text for children should be fairly simple and effective. The sentence construction must also be taken into consideration: the younger the reader, the easier should be the sentence construction.

Until very recently, the literature for children was mainly regarded as “cute” and “sweet” and was rarely taken seriously. However, gradually some translators and authors have begun to draw attention to the austerity of human existence. They have started to emphasize real situations that children face, rather than an ideal world that does not reflect the reality of children’s lives. Exposing children to the appropriate literature of foreign cultures does much to enhance their broad-mindedness and openness to different cultures in the long run.

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