Translating children’s literature is a particularly difficult task for translators, who need to mediate between the source and target language, and between the language spoken by adults (which they will be used to) and children. Given these difficulties, what sets apart a good children’s literature translation from a poor one?
The trials and tribulations of translating children’s books
When translating books for kids, you have to pay attention to the smallest details because young readers are likely to remember stories for many years. Children’s book translations fall into a very specific category within the broader literary translation industry.
Books for children generally contain fewer words than adult literature. That being said, children’s literature translations should be left to the professionals as there are very few words at a writer’s disposal and it is important to choose the right ones to capture the message and atmosphere of the original text.
Another very important thing to bear in mind when translating books for children is the choice of vocabulary. The words you use should depend on the age group for which the book is intended and their cognitive and lexical skills
In addition, children’s books often contain age-old tales inspired by the world’s diverse cultural traditions. Modern editions of old stories try to use more familiar language for younger generations, and this task is best left to a professional translator.
Finally, employing lively and playful language is essential if you want to encourage children to read, keep them interested, and feed their curiosity.
Translating children’s books around the world
Translating children’s books and fairy tales is not that common around the globe. In the UK, for example, the children’s publishing sector mainly revolves around English speaking authors and books, and content written by foreign authors is not as commonly translated as it is in other countries.
Meanwhile, fairy tales and fables from all over the world are often translated into Italian, thus contributing to the cultural enrichment of children, who are afforded the opportunity to travel the world with their imagination.