The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Education and Social Science Library
The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library

Foreign Language & Bilingual Children's Books

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French, Spanish, German, Catalan, Navajo...While the majority of the School (S-) Collection’s children’s books are written in English, many of the 156,000 children’s books in the cataloged collection are not. Unless you know the specific title of a book, these foreign language books can often be difficult to find. This guide offers several search strategies for finding foreign language titles at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and elsewhere. Generally, the foreign language materials that the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) are located at the Oak Street Storage Facility and are available by request only. Materials can be requested via the Online Library Catalog. If you require assistance locating an item, please ask for assistance at the SSHEL Information Desk.

The Champaign Public Library (200 W. Green St., 217-403-2070) and the Urbana Free Library (210 W. Green St., 217-367-4057) also collect foreign language children’s books.  Both libraries shelve these books with their non-fiction books, under the appropriate Dewey Decimal classification (according to language).  Feel free to contact them for assistance in locating materials in their collections.


Search the Library Catalog

One way to find books written in a specific foreign language (Spanish, French, etc.) is to search the Online Library Catalog by subject using the language as the subject term.  This search will result in some recent titles, but not all. Unfortunately, subject headings are not consistently assigned to foreign language children’s books. However, many of the foreign language books in the S-Collection were acquired prior to 1984 (and the arrival of an online catalog) and many older books are not assigned subject headings.  Many of these older foreign language books can be found by doing call number or title searches, explained later in this guide.

This guide is limited to search strategies for youth fiction and non-fiction written in foreign languages, rather than dictionaries or books on how to speak/write/read a foreign language.  Use any or all of the following subjects when searching:

  • If you are looking for a book in Spanish, try Spanish language materials
  • If you are looking for a bilingual book, Spanish and English, try Spanish language materials bilingual
  • If you are looking for a children’s book in Spanish, try Spanish language materials juvenile literature
  • If you are looking for textbooks to assist children learning Spanish, try Spanish language readers

If searching for a foreign language book on a specific subject, run an Advanced Search for the specific subject along with the appropriate phrase from above. For example, if looking for a Spanish language book on cats, use the following subject search: Cats AND Spanish language materials.

It is also possible to access foreign language children’s books by searching by title in the Online Library Catalog. Reference works also provide titles of foreign language books. Described in the sections below, these reference books, primarily bibliographies, arrange titles in various ways: by culture, country of publication, language, subject, award-winners, etc.

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Call Numbers

Call numbers are groups of numbers and letters that classify library items by subject. Items are arranged on bookshelves by call number. SSHEL uses both the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems. 

Sometimes, when you do not have a specific title, the only way to find foreign language fiction (published prior to 1984) is to search by call number. First, determine the appropriate Dewey Decimal classification for the language by looking at the list below. These are the beginnings of call numbers assigned to some foreign language children’s books in the S- Collection.  These numbers can also be used to search the library’s general collection.  Remember that a call number search will not unearth recent foreign language fiction in the S- Collection, as much of the new material has been classified as fiction under the author’s last name.

DEWEY
SUBJECT
896
African languages
899.92
Basque
849.9
Catalan
839.81
Danish
839.31
Dutch
840
French
830
German
850
Italian
870
Latin
889
Modern Greek
897
North American native languages
839.82
Norwegian
891.85
Polish
891.7
Russian
860
Spanish
839.7
Swedish

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Directories

026.4 D628
Directory of Language Collections in North American Public Libraries. 1986.
Identifies 1,767 collections in 66 modern languages in the United States and Canada. The directory is arranged both alphabetically by language, and by state. The state listings give more detailed information about the libraries, including the size of their foreign language collection (Small, 100-499 volumes; Medium, 500-1,499; Large, 1,500+) and the availability of juvenile materials.

S.028.8088 Sp312 1995
Special Collections in Children's Literature: An International Directory. 1995.
Provides information on special collections of children's literature; 300 of which are located in the United States and 119 in forty other countries. A subject index lists collections with strengths in foreign language children's books, as well as those with strengths in specific foreign languages and language groups.

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General Bibliographies

011.62 B4712
Bibliography of Children's Books in India.1983.
Extensive list of books published in India prior to 1982. Arranged by language and age level. Transliterates titles in twelve Indian languages: Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

S.027.62505 JO 14:2 Win 2001
"Bilingual Books for Children: Prepared by the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 International Relations Committees." Journal of Youth Services in Libraries v. 14 pp. 32-7.
Bibliography of books currently available with bilingual text, published between 1995 and 1999 or currently in print. Books chosen for this list met the following criteria: (1) the books should be suitable for children up to age fourteen, (2) represent a complete translation, and (3) contain high literary quality in each language.

CURR. 370.117 AMLIBA2001
Venture Into Cultures: A Resource Book of Multicultural Materials and Programs. 2nd ed. 2001
Contains culture-specific programming ideas and bibliographies. While most books are English-language titles, this resource also includes books in Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Persian. Title index by culture. Also available online in full text.

S.016.8108 H366t
Many Peoples, One Land: A Guide to New Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. 2001.
Successor to This Land is Our Land, this volume involves books published between 1994 and 1999. A few bilingual titles are included and can be identified through the subject index, e.g., “bilingual books, Spanish/English.”

S.011.62 M615o
Our Family, Our Friends, Our World: An Annotated Guide to Significant Multicultural Books for Children and Teenagers. 1992.
Provides substantial annotations of some bilingual materials in French, Spanish, Japanese, Kiswahili, Russian, and other languages. Access titles through the Subject Index, e.g., "French language—Bilingual materials."

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Language Specific Bibliographies

The following titles are written in English, with the exception of a few bibliographies of Spanish language materials. The University of Illinois Library also holds many bibliographies written in other foreign languages, which can be found by doing a subject search in the Online Library Catalog (e.g., "Children's literature, Russian Bibliography"). For older titles, you may also try a title keyword search in the Online Library Catalog (e.g., use the Russian or French words for "children's literature" and "bibliography" in a title search).

Chinese

S.895.109 Sco83c
Chinese Popular Literature and the Child. 1980.
Discusses the historical tradition from which twentieth-century Chinese children's literature arose, naming important titles and authors (in transliterated Chinese) in the text. Majority of titles published before 1970. Includes bibliography and index.

French

S.011.62 C16 1988
Canadian Books for Young People = Livres canadiens pour la jeunesse. 4th ed. 1988.
Selective, annotated bibliography of both English and French language titles published in Canada. Arranged by broad subject categories. Also includes reference books, publishers' series, award books and professional media. Author and title indexes.

German

830.9 F896D:E
Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendliteratur der Gegenwart = German Literature for Children and Young People Today. 1987.
Essays on German literature for youth. Contains bibliography of books discussed in text; titles have publication dates in the 1960s through 1980s.

Hebrew

Q.028.5492 W92L
Reshimat Sefarim Le-Sifriyot Ivriyot = List of Books for Standard Hebrew Libraries. 1957. Written in English and Hebrew.
Although this source lists primarily non-juvenile titles written in Hebrew, pages 40-44 offer bibliographic citations of over 250 Hebrew children's books.

Japanese

016.8956 L616j
Japanese Children's Books at the Library of Congress: A Bibliography of Books from the Postwar Years, 1946-1985. 1987.
Annotated bibliography of 304 Japanese children's books and periodicals held by the Library of Congress. Most were published between 1946-1985, although reprints of earlier works are also included. Arranged chronologically, each entry includes the title in Japanese characters, transliterated Japanese, and English translation. Award winners and intended age of audience are noted. Author, artist and transliterated Japanese title indexes.

S.011.62 J27 1987
Japanese Children's Books of International Interest. 1987.
Annotated bibliography of 126 Japanese children's books, arranged by type (picture books, longer fiction, non-fiction, etc.) Also includes list of awards, index of prize winning books, index of Japanese titles (transliterated), index of English titles, index of authors/illustrators.

Spanish

S.011.62 D1521b
Bilingual Children’s Books in English and Spanish: An Annotated Bibliography, 1942-2001. 2003.
Annotates bilingual Spanish-English children’s books, arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name and then by book title. Each annotation also lists review sources for the title when available. Includes an introduction in both English and Spanish about the history of bilingual Spanish/English publications. Indexed by Co-author, Illustrator, Translator, Title, Series, Award, Subject (English) and Subject (Spanish).

025.2 W119I
Libros Esenciales: Building, Marketing, and Programming a Core Collection of Spanish Language Children’s Materials. 2007.
Chapter 3 of this book recommends books to form a core collection of Spanish language and Spanish/English bilingual materials; the list is arranged by format and age level and includes brief citations. Chapter 9 lists other notable Spanish language books for children and Chapter 10 lists Major Hispanic Book Award winners (not all titles are in Spanish). The text also includes a wealth of ideas for using and selecting Spanish language children’s materials. General index, author index, and title index are included.

372.405 RE v.54:no. 5-8
“Los Ninos y el Mundo: Children’s Books in Spanish From Around the World.” The Reading Teacher v. 54 no. 7 (2001) pp. 692-698.
The author provides an annotated list of books in Spanish about other cultures, such as Australia, Guatamala, and Japan, and offers ideas for their use in the classroom.

016.808899282 M325m 2005
Multicultural Picturebooks: Art for Illuminating Our World. 2005.
"Section 6: The Caribbean and Latin America" provides annotations of approximately ten bilingual Spanish/English picture book titles.

S.011.62 Sch651r 2008
Recommended Books in Spanish for Children and Young Adults, 2004-2008. 2009.
A listing of high quality books in Spanish for children from preschool through twelfth grade. Books are arranged by subject and then alphabetically by author's last name. Titles have been translated into English and an extensive English annotation (including recommended grade level) is included. Includes Author, Title, and Subject indexes. Previous editions of this title cover books published in earlier years and can be found in SSHEL Storage.

011.62097295 P653
Un siglo de literatura infantil puertorriquena = A Century of Puerto Rican Children's Literature. 1987.
Written in Spanish and English. This history of Puerto Rican children's literature (1876-1978) also includes a "catalog" of Spanish language books, arranged both by author and by title.

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Online Resources

  • Children's Books Online: Books in Multiple Languages

    The Rosetta Project, sponsored by Children's Books Online, offers over 700 translations of children's books in thirty-two different languages. The collection consists of a digital collection of illustrated antique children's books that were published in the 19th and early 20th century. Translations are provided in text format rather than being digital versions of books originally published in another language. (Note: all the images on the S-Collection pages are taken from books in the Rosetta Project's collection.)

  • International Children's Digital Library

    The International Children's Digital Library is an online collection of children's picture books from around the world. Currently containing over 4,000 books in 54 languages, this University of Maryland project aspires to broaden international access to picture books through its colorful and functional collection of digital books. You can locate books based on age appropriateness, length, and subject.

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Journals

Often, bibliographies of foreign language or bilingual children’s books can be found in journals. Search ERIC, the major education database, or databases such as Library and Information Science Source (LISS), to find specific articles or bibliographies. Combine subject descriptors such as “children’s literature” (or “childrens literature” [no apostrophe] in ERIC) and “bibliography,” and “bilingual” or “foreign language.”  Also browse the journals below.

026.105 BOB
Bookbird
Quarterly journal issued by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Contains articles on children's books published in countries around the world. Each issue includes a review column, "International Children's Books of Note." Recent issues since 2009) are online only.

028.05 AM
The Booklist and Subscription Books Bulletin
Monthly reviewing journal that includes a regular column on recently published Spanish language books for children. Occasionally includes annotations of books in other foreign languages, although they tend to be adult titles, rather than children's. Online issues from 1993.

S.028.505 HO
Horn Book Magazine
Bi-monthly journal containing articles and book reviews. Many issues include a review column called "Noteworthy Children's Books in Spanish." Online issues from 1990.

S.016.80989282 H783
The Horn Book Guide to Children's and Young Adult Books.
Bi-annual journal providing brief reviews of children's books. Arranged by broad subject category. Each issue includes selected foreign language books published in the United States, primarily Spanish language books. Online issues from 2010.

026.05 JU
School Library Journal
Monthly journal containing articles and book reviews. Reviews of Spanish language children's books appear every other issue. Online issues from 1974.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jul-2014 13:07:43 CDT /pdc