Thursday, January 18, 2018

BOOK LINKS: Going Global with Poetry

If you're a BOOK LINKS reader, check out the January, 2018 issue with a focus on diversity. My article, "Going Global with Poetry" (p. 25-28) features a look at international poetry for young people. Here are a few excerpts.

In this evolving digital world, it is getting easier to have access to literature for young people from around the globe. What a great opportunity to share stories and poems created for children in countries outside the United States. In this way, we can help grow the next generation of readers, thinkers, and leaders with a worldview that might have a more inclusive and compassionate perspective. Poetry in particular is a concise and powerful package that can cross borders and boundaries in various ways, in print, web, audio, video, and even game and gift formats. By and large, we're looking for poetry in English, whether from English-speaking countries around the world or translated into English. That’s a good place to start. However, there are also resources for finding children’s literature in many languages, but that will have to be a future article. Where can we find quality poetry for young people from around the world in print and online? Let’s take a look. 

Global Literature in Libraries (GLLI)
Rachel Hildebrandt initiated a new blog with an exclusive focus on international literature and books in translation called the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative ( Its focus is “to raise the visibility of world literature for adults and children at the local, national and international levels.”  Its outreach is to translators, librarians, publishers, editors, and educators, in order to encourage crossover connections and collaboration. The blog includes helpful book lists, lists of publishers, a list of international literature journals, and links to 15 other blogs that focus on international literature. 

Global Reading
Another excellent blog with an even more specific focus on international literature for children is Global Reading (  maintained by Robin Gibson. She offers programming ideas and lists of international books for storytimes, such as the poetic picture books New Clothes For New Year's Day (Kane-Miller Books) by Korean author-illustrator Hyun-Joo Bae and In the Meadow (Enchanted Lion Books), set in Japan, written by Yukiko Kato, illustrated by Komako Sakai, and translated by Yuki Kaneko.

World Kit Lit
Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa puts together a tremendous annotated list of 100 Translated Children’s Books from Around the Year in celebration of World Kid Lit Month in September on the blog, World Literature for Kids (

World of Words (WoW)
At the World of Words center in Arizona and on the web (, you can find a searchable database of book reviews of many poetry selections, such as Salsa: Un poema para cocinar/ A Cooking Poem (Groundwood) by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh and Elisa Amado, among many others. This site also provides “Language and Culture Kits” with annotated lists of books from countries and cultures whose primary languages are Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)
I’ve written before about the amazing International Children’s Digital Library
( which aspires to “build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world.” These are the full-texts of more than 4600 books published in 59 languages. A quick search for books of poems reveals more than 600 books of poetry and nursery rhymes in English, Russian, Mongolian, Serbian, Hebrew, Spanish, Persian/Farsi, Yiddish, Finnish, Swedish, Arabic, Hungarian, Croatian, Dutch, Danish, German, French, and Polish.

Young Poets Network
For a British perspective (but open to all), check out the Young Poets Network ( for opportunities for young people to submit their own original poetry including through multiple competitions, as well as “advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene.” 

Children’s Poetry Archive
The Children’s Poetry Archive ( web resource is a repository of recordings of poems read by the poets themselves, primarily by British poets (many of whom have books published and distributed in the U.S. such as Allan Ahlberg, Michael Rosen, Tony Mitton, and more). 

Australian Children’s Poetry
If you want to explore the world of Australian Children’s Poetry (, you can do no better than this site which features links to more than 50 Australian poets who write for young people, many of whom also publish in the U.S. like Sally Murphy, Kathryn Apel, and Steven Herrick. In addition, this comprehensive website includes articles and reviews, competitions, interviews, and lots of links. The “Poem of the Day” feature is fresh and new every day and instantly share-able, similar to the Poetry Minute in the U.S. (

International Book Awards
When it comes to seeking international children’s poetry books in print, it can be a bit more challenging. So few poetry books from other countries are translated and/or published in the U.S., compared with the output of U.S. authors and poets. Plus, the challenge of translating poetry from another language into English while maintaining both the music and the meaning of the original text is quite challenging. Still, it can be interesting to share poetry by writers outside the U.S. with the children we serve. We can look for books by recipients of the Hans Christian Andersen award ( given to an author from any country in the world for her or his body of work. Several writers of poetry have received this prestigious award including Maria Teresa Andruetto (Argentina), Michio Mado  (Japan), Annie M. G. Schmidt  (Netherlands), Cecil Bødker  (Denmark), James Krüss (Germany), and Eleanor Farjeon  (UK). 

Lists of Outstanding International Books
There are also several helpful and searchable lists of recommended books that depict countries and cultures around the world. The Outstanding International Books (OIB) list ( established by the United States Board on Books for Young People is published every year and focuses on books published or distributed in the United States that originated or were first published in a country other than the U.S. This list typically includes several books of poetry. In the most recent 2017 list, for example, these poetry books were highlighted: The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Ban” (Groundwood) by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith, Somos Como Las Nubes/We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood) by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Alfonso Ruano, translated by Elisa Amado, and Night Guard (Eerdmans) by Synne Lea, illustrated by Stian Hole, translated by John Irons. 
The International Literacy Association also creates an annual list of outstanding international books published in the U.S. for “enhancing student understanding of people and cultures throughout the world.” That list, the Notable Books for a Global Society (, also regularly includes books of poetry and novels in verse.

Like so many things, once you start looking for international literature and poetry in particular, you can find it in many places. For example, the popular Pinterest site is a gathering place for many visual teaching tools, including poetry resources. SoundCloud hosts audiofiles of all kinds of poetry by all kinds of poets all around the world.... If you’re looking to introduce students to literature from around the world, poetry is a great place to start. As the award-winning Slovene poet Boris Novak observed, “Childhood is the poetry of life. Poetry is the childhood of the world.” 

Now head on over to A Journey Through the Pages where Kay is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering. See you there!


Christine said...

I have the collection “This Same Sky” on my shelf and keep meaning to read it — I’ll have to do that soon! Thanks for these resources :)

Linda M. said...

What a treasure trove of information! Thank you!