On Tuesday, June 4, Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) Grade 4 and 5 students unveiled a new series of graded level Chinese language children’s books for non-native Chinese language learners – a series they translated from English. The stories are part of the Start Reading Chinese series, and include eight titles in each of five reading bands.
Tuesday’s launch built upon the successes of last year’s Grade 5 students. In last year’s efforts, Grade 5 students brought eight children’s books to the large Chinese audience. This time around, a total of 43 Grade 4 and 5 students combined efforts to translate forty books from English to Mandarin. These talented WAB students combined their language and teamwork skills, and translated the books using their own voices and styles of writing. This is important, remarks Wang Biao, deputy director of Beijing University Publishing House. Wang says that the editors took care to ensure quality in the translations, but were also careful to not interfere too much with the way the students chose to express the original meanings, emphasizing that it is important to have a natural voice in the language. Luckily, kids have that by default when writing kids books!
As the series describes, the Start Reading Chinese is a five-level graded reader for learners of Chinese adapted and translated from the English reader series Start Reading. It features fine illustrations by internationally renowned artists for children’s books, and tells well-loved Western children’s stories in relatively simple Chinese. The stories are easily relatable to Western children’s lives and, thanks to our young translators, they are told in humorous language. WAB’s Director, Geoffrey Andrews was a driving force behind this project, and was quick to point out that children like stories that they can relate to in real life. By making reading fun, Andrews notes, kids will develop a love of reading. To support young Chinese language learners in their learning, each book in the series contains carefully graded language with controlled vocabulary and sentence structures.
The leveled sets of books are color-coded in pink, red, yellow, blue and green and have titles “Just like you”, Outdoor fun”, “Let’s go on holiday” “Whatever the weather” “ Pip’s pet, “ Freddy’s Family,” “Carlo’s circus,” “Just Jack” and “Out and About.” Each set contains its own subset of stories, and includes a workbook and accompanying DVD. The “Out and About” series, entitled 校园内外(xiaoyuan neiwai) in Chinese, includes Sink or Swim, The Fun Race, Nature Detectives and Dogball.
The inscription on the series reads: Thank you to Geoffrey Andrews and Wang Wenjing of the Western Academy of Beijing and. Zhao Ma Bingru from ISB for the planning of this publication, and to the teachers and students of these two schools who have done a wonderful job to make it happen!
Congratulations to all those who helped to bring this project to life, especially our Grade 5 students! Special thanks go to WAB Elementary School Chinese Coordinator Linda Meng and her team for working on the project with our WAB students.
This post originally appeared as “Young WAB translators release 40 book set!” on WAB’s online newsletter, Lianxi.
Photos courtesy of WAB