The new words kids hear from translated picturebooks

Luísa Araújo, Sara Leite, Rita Brito, Sandrina Esteves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



This study shows how the language in translated picturebooks is enriched by the use of rare words. We document how the translation of picturebooks from English to Portuguese results in the use of rare words in Portuguese. Evidence indicates that children learn new vocabulary through readings of picturebooks (Noble et al., 2019) and that translators make choices that contribute to the use of rare words (Ketola, 2018). The sample of 86 picturebooks was selected from a list recommended by the Portuguese national reading plan for 3-5-year-olds. The identification of rare words was done using a frequency analysis in both Portuguese, using ESCOLEX, and English, using the ChildFreq tool. Findings indicate that translated picturebooks use rich and varied lexicon and include an average of 6.6 rare words. Twenty-two percent of these words originate from literal and non-literal translations and are not rare in the original texts. This indicates that the process of translation contributes to increasing children's exposure to rare words.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-51
Number of pages51
JournalL1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022


  • 3–5-year-olds
  • Translated picturebooks
  • Language development
  • Rare words
  • Vocabulary learning


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