In We’ve stopped translating children’s books into english. Where will get the next Tintin?, Daniel Hahn, a translator, talks about his book experience. One thing that stands out for him are the Moomins featured in a series of books written by a Finnish writer. He then talks about many of the books that he has read,many of which you may have read as well, and it turns out that these were translations.
“What we read defines our horizons. As a child I had no idea that Asterix was translated but Little Women wasn’t, that Ursula Le Guin wrote in English but Pippi Longstocking needed a second writer to make her exploits readable by the likes of me. I didn’t know, or care. I knew, however, that with every new book I loved I was discovering a new way for a story to be funny, or to be exciting, or to make me wonder. These translated books—just like their English-language cousins—were just more worlds of experience. They were story and characters and voice, and the questions they asked and the pictures they painted and the emotions they stirred in a reader.”
It’s surprising then that the stories that are being written for children in many other languages are not being translated to English. Take the Grimm’s fairy tales and Russian folk tales; these aren’t English stories originally. If it wasn’t for these stories so many readers’ lives would have been deprived somehow. And the lives of many children are being deprived of stories from across the world because now translation never gets its due, particularly when it comes to children’s literature.
Children deserve better.