Global Youth Readers launch at the London Book Fair Spotlight on Chinese Children’s Publishing
Global Youth Readers is an international youth reading exchange, initiated by China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Co. Ltd, which launched at The London Book Fair earlier this month, with a focus on Chinese children’s bestsellers available in English today.
At LBF the launch event highlighted several Chinese children’s bestselling books in translation. The event was hosted by Alicia Liu, founder and MD of Singing Grass Communications, with panellists Yu Rong, the acclaimed British-Chinese illustrator, Helen Wang, sinologist and children’s book translator and Janetta Otter-Barry, founder and publisher of Otter-Barry Books UK.
Yu Rong’s Shu Lin's Grandpa, published in Chinese by Dandelion Children's Bookstore and in English by Otter-Barry Books, was shortlisted for the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal in 2022, bringing the Chinese picture book to the world audience.
Yu Rong, the illustrator of Shu Lin’s Grandpa, said: “I was fortunate to have worked with both Chinese and English authors to visualise their imaginative and uplifting stories for children. I hope my visual expressions - inspired by my background in Chinese painting and contemporary art and design - will show children the transformative power of art and imagination in developing cultural understanding and empathy.”
Helen Wang, translator of Chinese children’s book Bronze and Sunflower, added:
“Books, especially children's books, can take us to a different world. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to translate the Chinese author Cao Wenxuan's bestselling books Bronze and Sunflower and Dragonfly Eyes for English readers. We aim to help international young readers discover more about Chinese children's books."
With over 290 million children in school, China today has the second largest children’s population in the world. Children’s books in China have been enjoying an extraordinary double digit growth over the past ten years - now one in three books sold is a children’s title.
Books can take us to a different world, especially for children. International authors represent 57.87% of the children’s picture books published in China in 2021. Classic and contemporary children’s stories from all over the world, not only from the UK and the US, but also from non-English speaking countries such as Japan and France - are enjoying immense popularity in the market.
There is also a growing appetite for stories to reflect Chinese cultural heritage, as well as contemporary subjects such as cultural diversity and inclusivity.
Much-loved modern classic Chinese children’s books such as Bronze and Sunflower by author Cao Wenxuan, published by Phoenix children and Juvenile Press in China, was first published in English by Walker Books in the UK in 2015 and received New York Times Notable Children’s Books of the Year 2017. Another Chinese children’s bestseller from Phoenix, I Want To Be Good by Huang Beijia, one of China’s most important children’s writers, has been republished in English in 2021 after getting a major new English translation by award-winning UK translator Nicky Harman.
Students from MA Publishing and Creative Writing at Kingston University shared their thoughts on contemporary Chinese children's books in translation at the event.
Courtney Thompson who is the secretary at Creative Writing society at Kingston University said, "The beautiful imagery and descriptions in these books make me want to visit China. From the point of view of literary translation, these commonalities are what attract readers to a book from an unfamiliar country; they act as a bridge that takes them from one end of the cultural spectrum to the other. In a way, this is the reason for the existence of literary translation."
Marianne Simon studied English Literature at University of Birmingham and is currently studying at Kingston University's MA in Publishing and Creative Writing. She said,
“I am transported into a vibrant world of technicolour playgrounds by Shu Lin's Grandpa. The rich illustrations combined with the celebration of Chinese culture which the book represents made for a thought provoking read. It has really instilled in me the desire to visit China.”
Global Youth Readers is an international youth reading exchange initiated by China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Co., Ltd. Through carrying out rich and diverse reading and cultural exchange activities, it aims to promote the exchange of ideas and mutual learning among young people. The Youth Readers Exchange · UK is the platform’s first event in publishing in 2022, and it will hold reading exchange events including the UK/China Poetry Night at the Beijing International Book Fair in August 2022.
Group Photo caption:
David Roche, chair of the London Book Fair advisory committee, Yu Rong, illustrator shortlisted for Yoto Greenaway Medal 2022, Helen Wang, Sinologist and translator of Bronze and Sunflowers, Nicky Harman, translator of I Want To Be Good, Janetta Otter-Barry, Publisher of Otter-Barry Books, Alicia Liu, MD of Singing Grass and Bex Eastwell and Marianne Simon, MA Creative Writing and Publishing students at Kingston University
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