Children’s chances of reading best books lost in translation, author warns

Millions of children are missing out on the best books in the world because so few are translated into English, according to award-winning author David Almond, who has praised a new initiative to promote translated literature.

The novelist, whose book Skellig won the Carnegie Medal in 1998 and was made into a film starring Tom Roth, said more needed to be done to bring international best-sellers to this country after figures showed translated fiction accounts for less than three per cent of all books sold in the UK.

Almond, who lives in Northumberland, said: “Children need to read the best books by the best writers from all parts of the world.

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“Of course they do. But the plain fact is that there is very little translated children’s fiction published in the UK, and our children are missing out.”

He said the launch of a new publishing imprint by Pushkin Press which will concentrate solely on international children’s fiction was “a bold new venture”.

Among the books it plans to publish are a best-selling Danish series about the adventures of a boy called Vitello – which have been compared to the Horrid Henry books – and a fantasy series by two librarians described as the French Harry Potter.

They have already been snapped up by the makers of the Twilight films.

Melissa Cox, children’s new titles buyer at Waterstones, said: “There is a gap in our children’s books departments for the new Mrs Pepperpot and Tintin.

“We’re excited that more amazing stories from overseas will be made available to children in the UK, and can’t wait to see where the next cult classic will come from.”