Wednesday, December 10, 2014

International YA

Tonight the New York Public Library is hosting a panel -- and I believe filming it, so anyone reading this blog should have access to it -- that I hope is of interest to all of you. Panel Words Without Borders,WWB has devoted a special free online issue to international writing about and for teenagers. You can find the stories at the url I just posted. At the panel tonight one of the co-editors of the issue will tell us about her experiences in gathering material, finding translators, and crafting the issue. All of that would be fine, but it is only a start. WWB is using the issue, and the panel, as part of a broader educational initiative.

Think of this -- WWB is searching the world for writing about and for teenagers and for skilled translators. Now you can bring into a library, and thus perhaps a classroom, a rich range of new experiences. Some of the pieces in the issue (one Norwegian graphic novel short story about a teenage pregnancy) could appear in any bookstore tomorrow. Some (I'm thinking of a Bangladeshi story) suggest a second kind of opportunity, a sort of double translation. The words are in English, but understanding the context requires learning about another place, another culture, another set of challenges. This could be ideal for a teacher, or for a library teen reading group. But whether we are speaking about material that first appeared in another language and has an easy connection to readers here, or material that serves to open doors and minds, WWB is giving us the most marvelous tool.

As you can suspect, I am hosting the panel tonight. The speakers include Arthur Levine, who has his own highly-regarded imprint at Scholastic, Padma Venkatraman, whose novel A Time to Dance has garnered give starred reviews; Briony Everroad, co-editor of the special issue; and Roxanne Hsu Feldman, a middle school librarian and reviewer who has twice served on the Newbery committee. I hope you can come. If not, please read the special issue, and stay in touch with WWB as they announce the roll out of their educational initiative. Welcome, teenagers, to the entire world. 

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