The Batchelder Award is awarded to a United States publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States during the preceding year.
This award honors Mildred L. Batchelder, a former executive director of the Association for Library Service to Children, a believer in the importance of good books for children in translation from all parts of the world. She began her career working at Omaha (NE) Public Library, then as a children's librarian at St. Cloud (MN) State Teachers College, and subsequently as librarian of Haven Elementary School in Evanston, IL. She eventually joined the ranks of the American Library Association in 1936. Batchelder spent 30 years with ALA, working as an ambassador to the world on behalf of children and books, encouraging and promoting the translation of the world's best children's literature. Her life's work was "to eliminate barriers to understanding between people of different cultures, races, nations, and languages."
According to Mildred L. Batchelder, children in all countries should have good books in translation from many parts of the world for these reasons:
- children of one country who come to know the books and stories of many countries have made a beginning toward international understanding;
- knowing the classic stories of a country creates an attitude for understanding towards the people for whom that literature is a heritage;
- 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
- 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).
This award, established in her honor in 1966, is a citation awarded to a United States publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States during the preceding year.ALSC gives the award to encourage US publishers to seek out superior children's books abroad and to promote communication among the peoples of the world.
As of 1979 the award has been given annually to a publisher for a book published in the preceding year. Before 1979, there was a lapse of two years between the original publication date and the award date; to convert to the new system, two awards were announced in 1979: one for 1978 and one for 1979. Beginning in 1994, honor recipients were selected and announced as well. In a year that the committee is of the opinion that no book of that year is worthy of the award, none is given. The award is decided on and announced at the Midwinter Meeting of ALA, and the winning publisher receives a citation and commemorative plaque. The presentation used to be made on April 2, International Children's Book Day, but is now given at the ALA Annual Conference held each summer.
The purpose of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award, a citation to an American publisher, is to encourage international exchange of quality children's books by recognizing United States publishers of such books in translation. The Award was established by the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association in 1966 in the belief that "interchange of children's books between countries, through translation, influences communication between the peoples of those countries..." (MLB, 1966). It honors Mildred L. Batchelder whose work for children's librarianship and literature at the national level over three decades has had international and lasting effects. (Source: TOP OF NEW, January 1967, p. 180)
- The Mildred L. Batchelder Award shall be made to an American publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English during the preceding year. Specifically, these terms encompass traditionally translated books (originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States and subsequently published in English the United States) as well as non-traditionally translated books. This includes, but is not limited to, books translated first in other countries, books written originally in another language but previously unpublished, and books originally published in a different format and language; e.g. a selection from an anthology.
- The Award, in the form of a citation, shall be made annually, unless no book of that particular year is deemed worthy of the honor.
- "American publisher" means a publisher with editorial offices in the United States that publishes books under U.S. publishing conventions for a United States market.
- "Children's book" means a United States trade publication for which children, up to and including age 14, are a potential audience. Books for this entire age range are to be considered.
- "Book" means the work was published in book format in the United States. The U.S. book is neither a condensation, excerpt, nor abridgement of the original book.
- "Most outstanding" refers to the quality of the book as defined by the CRITERIA (cited in the next section).
- "Originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English" means that the text must have originated in a country other than the United States and been written in language other than English; and if previously published, publication must have been in a country other than the United States.
- "Subsequently published in English in the United States," means that the United States publication in English must not have taken place prior to the publication in a language other than English and in a country other than the United States. U.S. publication may occur simultaneously with non-English language publication or simultaneously with publication in English in other countries.
- “Non-traditionally translated books” refers to texts that are translated and produced as a book for children by an American publisher. This includes, but is not limited to, books translated first in other countries, books written originally in another language but previously unpublished, and books originally published in a different format and language; e.g. a selection from an anthology.
- "Published during the preceding year" means that the book has a U.S. publication date in the year under consideration, was available for purchase in the U.S. in that year, and has a U.S. copyright date no later than that year. A book might have a U.S. copyright date prior to the year under consideration but, for various reasons, was not published until the year under consideration. New translations of works previously translated into English and published in the United States are not eligible.
- "Unless no book of that particular year is deemed worthy of the honor" indicates that a committee may choose not to select an Award winner if no book is judged to have met the terms and criteria established for the award.
1. Focus of attention:
Primary attention must be directed to the text. Picture books should be considered only if the text is substantial and at least as important as the pictures. "Substantial text" means this is an award for translation and the text is the main consideration for the award. Illustrated books should be considered only if the text is as prominent and important as the illustrations.
2. Relationship to original work:
- The translation should be true to the substance (e.g., plot, characterization, setting) and flavor of the original work and should retain the viewpoint of the author.
- Reflection of the style of the author and of the original language are assets unless in the translation these reflections result in awkwardness in style or lack of clarity for children.
- The book should not be unduly "Americanized." The book's reader should be able to sense that the book came from another country.
3. Quality of the United States Book:
- The textual qualities to be evaluated will vary depending on the content and type of the book being considered. Each book should be evaluated only on the elements pertinent to it. These include:
- Interpretation of the theme or concept
- Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization
- Development of plot
- Delineation of characters
- Appropriateness of style
- In all cases, committee members must consider the book's manner of presentation for and the potential appeal to a child audience.
- Aspects of the overall design of the book should be considered when they significantly enhance or detract from the text, thus making the book more or less effective as a children's book. Such aspects might include: illustration, typeface, layout, book jacket, etc.
- In some children's books, illustrations are important. In considering such a book, consideration should be given to the retention of the original illustrator's work in the U.S. edition.
NOTE: Often it will be impossible for the committee members to read the book in its original language. Therefore, the committee must use its best judgment in evaluating the quality of the translation (point 2 above), keeping in mind that a translated book is a separate entity from the book as published in its original language.
Approved by the ALSC board, Annual Conference 1981. Revised August 2018.
Please visit the ALSC Committeees Page (scroll down to Priority Group - Awards) for an up to date list of committee members.
Batchelder Award Manual (Word)
Batchelder Award Manual (PDF)
- Policy for Service on ALSC award committees
- Frequently asked questions regarding policy for service
- Awards Diversity and Inclusion Discussion with Kathleen T. Horning- This discussion took place at the 2015 ALA conference in San Francisco with Kathleen Horning and the 2016 Chairs of the ALSC Awards and Notable Children's Lists Committees.
Please Note: The following links are resources for book award committee members. These recordings are part of the Bill Morris Seminar that took place at ALA Midwinter in Denver 2018.
- Book Discussion 101 (Session video is approximately 58 minutes)
- The Search for Distinguished Committee Work and Responsibility (Session video is approximately 53 minutes)
- ALSC Awards Committee Experiences (Session video is approximately 77 minutes)
How to submit books for consideration for the Batchelder Award:
- Review the terms and criteria and the committee manual for a comprehensive overview of the Batchelder Award process.
- Please complete a submission form for each entry.
- Mail one copy of the work to the award committee chair. Instructions on obtaining mailing information can be found after completing the submission form.
- ALSC membership is not a requirement to submit your work and there is not an entry fee for the Batchelder Award.
We request only one copy to be sent to the committee chair. Standards are in place for the committee members to review and share submissions. ALSC membership is not a requirement to submit your work and there is not an entry fee for the Batchelder Award.
Neither the ALSC office nor the committee chair can confirm receipt of submissions. If you would like to confirm delivery receipt of your submission please use a tracking number for your package. Submissions that are dropped off in-person to the ALSC office will not be accepted.
The ALSC office cannot answer eligibility questions or advise on which award your submission is eligible for. It is up to you to review the terms and criteria and if you feel you qualify, submit as appropriate. Eligibility is determined by the committee and is confidential.
The book and media awards are announced each year at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in January. The materials received by the ALSC office throughout the year will be used for ALSC’s Bookapalooza Program. The Bookapalooza Program selects three libraries to receive a Bookapalooza collection of these materials to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families.
Deadline for submitting books is December 31 of the publication year.