You’ve Got Mail and #WorldKidLit

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

For years, I’ve had a penchant for quoting You’ve Got Mail, the bookish Nora Ephron flick that features Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly and Tom Hanks as Joe Fox. Last week, I turned my tendency into a post at Cynsations, the children’s literature blog of author Cynthia Leitich-Smith.

An excerpt:

But “You’ve Got Mail” has stayed with me for another reason—the Kathleen Kelly line, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.”

Spoken to Joe Fox to explain why children’s books (and a good children’s bookshop) matter, the line also explains why children’s books in translation matter: They get read in readers’ formative years.

Children’s literature not only adds to or stretches readers’ conceptions of themselves and the universe, but it shapes those conceptions early.

I go on to say that, at a time of pernicious nativism, children’s literature must grow more international. Why?

Because books form children. Children form tomorrow’s world. We want them to know and love it like Joe and Kathleen adore the West Side.

I long for more Japanese (and every other language’s) kidlit in translation! For a look at how this relates to caviar garnish, cappuccino, sushi, Fox Books, and the Shop Around the Corner, swing by the post at Cynsations.

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