Translate for Toddlers (T4t) is a series of programs that promote bilingual literacy in our community through book donations, bilingual readings, and translation workshops. Dr. Anne Magnan-Park, Associate Professor of English and French, initiated the program in 2016 by asking the community to donate books for IU South Bend students to translate. After the translations are complete, the books are then donated to refugee and immigrant populations in Michiana. Dr. Magnan-Park, with her colleague Heather Jones, Lecturer in French and Spanish, have implemented Translate for Toddlers in both the French Club and in their French language classes. The program was so successful that in 2018, Dr. Tammy Fong-Morgan, Associate Professor of Spanish, decided to join T4t and invited Spanish students to translate books as well. To date, IU South Bend students have translated at least 150 books into French and Spanish.
The community partners involved with the program include the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition, El Campito, La Casa de Amistad, the Saint Joseph County Public Libraries, and the French publisher Lirabelle, which specializes in socially-minded books. Dr. Magnan-Park explained that the partnership with Lirabelle has the added benefit of giving the students a chance to explore the publication process: “We are granted an opportunity to discuss how books come together through the pairing up of authors, illustrators, and translators. We reflect on how a book format can have consequences on its distribution and therefore how readers can access these books in one or more languages.”
Translate for Toddlers continues to evolve to meet the growing needs of our community. The goal has shifted from gifting books to individuals to working with institutions such as libraries, schools, and charitable organizations to focus on initiating members of the community to the skill of translation and engaging people in reading bilingually. Dr. Magnan Park said, “We’ve designed T4t so that students and community members can engage in multiple ways: some will simply listen to a story performed bilingually or help us transcribe a translation into a book, others will choose to actively practice a range of language skills, such as reading, analyzing, and translating.” For example, the IU South Bend team is currently partnering with the St. Joseph County Public Library in order to promote bilingual literacy in high schools and daycares. While many teachers value bilingualism/plurilingualism, they often lack the resources or language skills to promote bilingual literacy in their classrooms. Since some teachers may not feel confident reading books in a language other than English, Translate for Toddlers is in the process of providing audio recordings to educators. Translate for Toddlers’ newest project is a community-wide translation contest. The hope is that junior high schools, high schools, and IU South Bend students will all participate in translating two socially-minded children books.
Despite being in existence for just three years, Translate for Toddlers has made a significant impact on the community and IU South Bend students. According to Dr. Magnan-Park, “We know from research that possessing bilingual books at home – especially in homes where English is not the primary language – fosters academic success.” Translate for Toddlers is also “creating community around languages, books, bookmaking, [and] around the process of translation.” IU South Bend students gain professional skills that prepare them for graduate school and the job market as well. Some of the students who have participated in Translate for Toddlers have won prizes at the Undergraduate Research Conference for their translations.
If you have any questions about Translate for Toddlers, please email Anne Magnan-Park at