They’re not interested in stealing, nor are they based at sea. They’re not drinking lots of rum (that I know of), and there’s not a parrot in sight.
No, these pirates apply their swashbuckling spirit to promoting children’s literacy. The Book Pirates, or Buecherpiraten, as they’re called in their native German, is a charitable organization based out of Luebeck in northern Germany. They use the combined powers of digital publishing and self publishing to empower children and young people ages 3 to 19 to tell their own story, in their own mother tongue.
Anyone is welcome to create their own original picture book, with original artwork and story, and the Book Pirates will publish it on their website. Then, anyone can download the book for free by selecting their first language, second language, and preferred format, currently offering smartphone/tablet, ring-bound book, and regular book formats. Some translations even have audiobook options available.
The Book Pirates launched the 1001 Languages project in April 2016 to expand their language offerings from their six base languages, for which they have professional translators — Arabic, English, French, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish — and their own language — German — to encompass as many languages as possible — Serbian, Finnish, Ukranian, Frisian, Farsi, Dari, Sisiwati, Danish, and Tigrinya, to name a few.
These translations are sourced from native speakers who volunteer to translate and proofread. Each translation is confirmed and proofread by a second native speaker to ensure accuracy.
While the Book Pirates and their partners host workshops to help the picture book making process, submissions are welcome from any group of children and young people. The project has found particular success among refugee populations. Young refugees enjoy the book making process, and the end result can be read by their parents in their mother tongue. Additionally, that same story can be read independently by the child in their new language, which assists in the language acquisition process.