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Last month, Eric Carle, the beloved children’s book writer and illustrator, died. His most famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar — about a caterpillar that ate different things each day and turned into a butterfly — has been translated into at least 66 languages, including Japanese. It’s a reminder of how easily many books for kids travel the world. Libraries and homes across Japan have Japanese-language editions of Italian American illustrator Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, about the importance of facing challenges together, and Beatrix Potter’s stories of Peter Rabbit and his friends in the English countryside. Some English books don’t always work well in Japanese: Dr. Seuss’s books are great fun in English because of the nonsense rhymes, but they are hard to translate. Still, you can find Japanese versions of some Dr. Seuss classics, like Horton Hears a Who. But the translations have gone the other way, too, with a flood of popular Japanese books for toddlers getting translated into English. These include: the Guri and Gura series of books by Rieko Nakagawa and her sister Yuriko Yamawaki, about two mice who love to cook; It Might Be an Apple, a wonderful story by Shinsuke Yoshitake for budding creative types that looks at how you can use imagination to make the world seem exciting; and of course, we can’t leave out Taro Gomi’s Everyone Poops, a fun book that helps kids with their toilet training. Reading children’s books in translation is a great way to taste different cultures. It’s interesting that only 3% of books in the U.S. are translations — it might help explain why so many Americans aren’t curious about the world. Bedtime stories are a first step to understanding, and translated books help little minds learn about other countries. (T) This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.