International and Global Literature

The terms “international” and “global” literature are often used interchangeably. International literature, according to USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People, the U.S. section of IBBY–International Board on Books for Young People) defines “international literature” as “a book published or distributed in the United States that originated or was first published in a country other than the U.S.” ( Many resources of global literature, on the other hand, may include books about countries other than the U.S, written by a U.S. author and published in the U.S. Lists of global books sometimes contain international literature.

Because international literature is published in the U.S. by mainstream publishers, we use it frequently without realizing it is international literature. Rainbow Fish and the Harry Potter books are just two examples of international literature that many readers are familiar with in the U.S.

Here are some resources:

Batchelder Award. The Mildred C. Batchelder Award is presented annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, for “the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.”

CCBC Global Reading. Global Reading: Selected Literature for Children and Teens Set in Other Countries is a bibliography available on the CCBC (The Cooperative Children’s Book Center in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) website. Books on this list originate in the U.S. or outside the U.S. The bibliography is updated annually.

IBBY, International Board on Books for Young People.  This is a world-wide organization “committed to bringing books and children together.” Especially check out “Awards” from the menu on the left.

Notable Books for a Global Society. NBGS is a special interest group of the International Reading Association. Each year they select a list of 25 “outstanding trade books for enhancing student understanding of people and cultures throughout the world.” Recent lists and other information about quality global and international books can be found on this site.

USBBY Outstanding International Books (OIB) Lists. Since 2006, USBBY has published a list of “outstanding” international books for K-12.

Worlds of Words. The mission of WOW is “is to build bridges across global cultures through children’s and adolescent literature.” There are many ways to find books on this site; be sure to also check out the “Resources” tab.

International Children’s Digital Library. The ICDL is a database of digital children’s books in many languages. You are able to reader the entire books on this site, complete with illustrations. Their mission is to “to support the world’s children in becoming effective members of the global community – who exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online free of charge.”