As a French teacher, I often feel defeated when I see SOME language readers being poorly adapted from Spanish to French: same cover/illustrations but maybe with a different skin color (!), same story but transposed to a francophone region with little research, misrepresentation of that region or identities/groups in that region, and/or language convention or grammatical errors.
So, after writing my first language reader, Alice, I asked myself: can I adapt this story into Spanish ?
The story is about a teenage girl who is going to move to a different city and is trying to cope with this news. It seemed the plot was quite universal and therefore I gave myself permission to investigate adapting it. My team and I decided to adapt it to Costa Rica, a culture I lived in and married into. However, I am fully aware that no marital or personal “situation exempt me from the forces of racism” (Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility, 2018), so I welcome critique of this and any text I publish.
Next, I wrote the sequel Khadra. After finishing the story, I realized I could not adapt it to Costa Rica.
While not the focus of the story, two buildings collapse in Marseille, south of France, killing 8 people (based on true events). While it is OK to dismantle the myth that “developed” countries have “developed” infrastructure, I knew I could not make a building collapse in Costa Rica without reinforcing the stereotype that “developing” countries have unreliable infrastructure.
So, that’s it. Perhaps I will re-adapt the whole series to Spain instead, or perhaps I will let it be. But I can’t adapt Khadra to Costa Rica.
I am not making a blanket statement that one should never adapt a language reader to another language/culture, I am simply making the case for taking a hard look at each story case by case before proceeding.