M ulticultural and international literature
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M ulticultural and International Literature. By: Alexandrine Archer, Ja’Sena Smith, Tamara Williams Dr. Bauman Children’s Literature Presentation August 5, 2008. International Literature Definition and Description.

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M ulticultural and International Literature

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Multicultural and International Literature

By: Alexandrine Archer, Ja’Sena Smith, Tamara Williams

Dr. Bauman

Children’s Literature Presentation

August 5, 2008

International LiteratureDefinition and Description

  • International Literature in the United States is defined as literary selections that were originally published for children in a country other than the United States in a language of that country and later published in the United States.

  • Books that are classified as international literature by this definition include:

    • English language books that were originally written and published in English in another country, such as Canada or Australia, then published or distributed in the United States.

    • Translated books written and published in a foreign language and then translated into English and published in the U.S.

    • Foreign language books that were written and published in a foreign language in another country for children of that country and later published or distributed in the U.S. in the foreign language.

International LiteratureValue of International Literature for Children

The value of international children’s literature is developing an understanding of and appreciation for other cultures.

  • Through this literature , the history, traditions, and people of other countries are brought to life.

  • Compelling stories build students interest in the people and places they are reading about and give a deeper understanding and appreciation of geographical and historical content in textbooks.

  • International literature reflects the cultural and language diversity often found in classrooms to day. Reading international books students learn to respect the heritage of others and take pride in their own.

  • Through international literature, children are given the opportunity to enjoy the best loved stories of their peers around the world.

International LiteratureEvaluation and Selection of International LiteratureInternational books(chapter and picture books) should be judged by standards for all good literature.

  • Translated works should exhibit a good, fluent writing style that is not awkward. Flavor of the country should remain.

  • International books are different in writing and illustration styles.


    • Dutch chapter book Bare Hands by Bart Moeyaert.

  • Illustrations in international books are more surreal than U.S. picture books. Plot and theme are embedded in pictorial details


    • Collector of Moments by Quint Buchholz.

International LiteratureEvaluation and Selection of International Literature

  • Four professional books for selecting international children's books and learning about international children's literature recently published or updated:

  • Children’s Books: Awards & Prizes from the Children’s Book Council

  • International Comparison Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, Vol.1, edited by Peter Hunter and Shelia G. Ray

  • Children’s Books from Other Countries, edited by Carl M. Tomlinson

  • Global Perspectives in Children’s Literature by Evelyn Freeman and Barbara Lehman

International LiteratureHistorical Overview of International Literature

  • Children’s literature available in the U.S. during the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries came from Europe.

  • At the end of WWII two developments occurred that had effects on the children book field:

    1. Children’s books were published in uncommon numbers

    2. The international children's books field was established and fostered by an international organization, awards, and publishers book fairs of children's book.

  • The establishment of an international children’s book field was advanced by Jella Lepman who described this in A Bridge of Children’s Books.

International LiteratureInternational Books By World Regions

  • International books that are most often available in the U.S. have been and continue to be books from other speaking English Countries.

  • A large number come from Great Britain, Australia, and Canada.

    • Example:

      • The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, first published in England.

International LiteratureInternational Books By World Regions

  • A large number of translated books come from Europe. Today many come from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Belgium. A few from Britain and Spain.

    • Example from Sweden:

      • In Ned’s Head by Anders Jacobsson and Soren Olsson.

  • Translated literature from Asia originates from Japan, but books from Korea, China, and Thailand can be found. Japan has a sophisticated illustrating that is making its way to the U.S. market.

    • Example from South Korea:

      • While We Were Out by Ho Baek Lee

International LiteratureInternational Books By World Regions

  • African nations have produced little children's literature that has been exported to the U.S. The reason is economics, the publishing industry is not established in developing countries.

    • Example from Ghana:

      • Sosu’s Call by Meshack Asare

  • Books of realistic fiction in which contemporary life in another country is portrayed are rare but worth locating. For example Beverly Naidoo’s The Other Side of Truth, is set in Nigeria, then London, and addresses political persecution.

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