by Ginny Moore Kruse, Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is a citation awarded to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding translated book of the year. Books eligible for the award are those originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country and subsequently published in the United States. The purpose of the award is to encourage international exchange of high quality children's books by recognizing U.S. publishers of such books in translation.
According to Mildred L. Batchelder, children in all countries should have good books in translation from many parts of the world for these reasons:
1) children of one country who come to know the books and stories of many countries have made a beginning toward international understanding;
2) knowing the classic stories of a country creates an attitude for understanding towards the people for whom that literature is a heritage;
3) children, who know they are reading in translation the same stories which children in other countries are reading, develop a sense of nearness with those in other lands; and
4) interchange of children's books between countries through translation enhances communication between the peoples of those countries, and, if the books chosen for traveling from language to language are worthy books, the resulting communication is deeper, richer, more sympathetic and more enduring. (from "Translations of Children's Books" by Mildred L. Batchelder in MINNESOTA LIBRARIES, Autumn, 1972, pp. 307-15).
Established in 1966, the award honors Mildred L. Batchelder, the former Executive Secretary of the Children's Services Division of the American Library Association (ALA). Announced during ALA's annual Midwinter Conference, the award was initially previous and presented to the winner on April 2, the date of International Children's Book Day.
In 1987, the award terms were clarified as follows:
1) primary attention is directed to the text;
2) picture books are to be considered only if the text is substantial and is at least as important as the pictures;
3) folk literature is not eligible;
4) the book's readers should be able to sense that the book came from another country.
Before 1979, the award was given to a book published two years previously and nominees for the award were publicly announced. Beginning in 1979, the award was given to a publisher for a book published in the preceding year. Two awards were announced in 1979: one for 1978 and one for 1979. Beginning in 1994, an honor book and publisher were selected and announced, as well.
The award is selected annually unless the award committee is of the opinion no book of that particular year is worthy of the award. Currently, the Batchelder Award (a plaque) is presented to the winning publisher during the membership meeting of the Association for Library Services for Children held during the ALA Annual Conference each summer. The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is given and administered by the Association for Library Services to Children of the American Library Association (50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611).