Five Translated Children’s Books Feature in Marsh Award Shortlist

The Marsh Award, which commends high quality translated fiction for young people, has five translated books for children in its shortlist.

Each of the selected books were first published in a foreign language and then translated into English.

Currently, 97 per cent of books published for children and young adults come from the English speaking world, meaning that only 3 per cent are non-English in origin and eligible for the Marsh Award, which has run since 1996.

From this 3 per cent, the award shortlist, which was announced on 18 January, 2013, includes a story of a boy travelling from Afghanistan to Italy for his own safety, and the dramatic journey of twins separated at birth in 1930s Calcutta.

The award is designed to encourage English-speaking children to read about a range of cultural subjects, and the award hopes to broaden young people’s search within literature, discovering new worlds and new perspectives.

Motivation behind the award

The organisers behind the award, The English-Speaking Union, promote the idea that language should not be a barrier against communication and that young people should be able to explore different lives as they read.

This has become increasingly important in recent years as the UK has become more culturally diverse and children and parents alike want to explore new meanings and ideas through translated fiction. Consequently, the award’s shortlist contains adventurous and exciting books in nature, which are also educational and have a real life application.

As the British Government plans to improve language education in schools, translated books will help to provide interest and incentive from students themselves. If a student is familiar with a book about life in France, they are more likely to want to know more about French life, including the language.


The panel of judges who will decide pm the winning translator include author Wendy Cooling, Sian Williams, founder of the Children’s Bookshow and Gillian Lathey, director of the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature.

Speaking of the shortlist, the judges highlighted the quality of Lucia Graves’s translation of Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s “The Midnight Palace,” calling it “a powerfully told story for older readers, with a strong sense of time and space”.

Ros and Chloe’s Schwartz’s translation of “The Little Prince” by Antoine de St-Exupery also garnered a positive reception; the novella is the most read and translated book in the French language and deemed to be a “classic”.

The judges furthered its acclaim by stating that it has been “beautifully translated” and “retains all the ineffable charm of the original”; it is important for translations to be authentic to replicate their original success with a new audience.

Announcing a winner

The Marsh Award will announce the winning translator at a ceremony in London on the 23 January 2013. The expert linguist will receive a cash prize of £2,000.

The next Marsh Award will take place in 2015.

Encouraging translations and new languages

The ethos of the award is admirable and will help children and young adults take an interest in language education at school, at a time when it is increasingly important for UK children to speak a second or even third language.

As the market place becomes more global, we can expect young people will need to speak more than just English if they go into large businesses that operate on an international scale.

When cross-lingual business takes place, it is integral that mis-communications are limited or ideally, never occur. For this to be achieved, professional translation companies need to be contacted.

At Today Translations, we have a team of professional translators, interpreters and linguists with many years of experience. Their fluency and linguistic knowledge are combined with cultural understanding to create accurate translations on a range of subjects. To discuss your translation requirements, please call us on +44 (0) 207 397 2770 , or email us at [email protected].