The central focus of the article is the roles of translation in the production of children's books in South Africa, and how issues of multilingualism, power differentials between languages and language-in-education policy affect the uses and functions of translation in the production of children's books in South Africa. The article first provides a brief overview of the discursive and practical situation relating to education, multilingualism and mother-tongue education in South Africa. Following this background, the investigation proceeds in three parts. The first is a brief analysis of the broader current South African publishing scenario, with emphasis on language issues and books for children. This is followed by a discussion of the uses of translation in the production of children's books. The results of a survey among publishers are reported alongside an analysis of a sample of data from a recent catalogue of African-language children's books in South Africa. A few broad trends emerge from the discussion. Most pertinently, it appears that translation plays a very different role in the production of Afrikaans children's books and African-language children's books. These differing roles may be related to complex forces in the uniquely postcolonial polysystem of South African literature.