April 2nd is Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. It is also International Children’s Book Day (my apologies for the belated post, but I’m still getting the hang of this blogging lark!). Organised by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), it is “celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books” (IBBY, n.d). The event for 2017 is sponsored by IBBY Russia, with the theme Let us grow with the book!
Let everyone grow with the book!
IBBY was “established by the visionary Jella Lepman following the devastation of the Second World War, [and] is devoted to encouraging excellence in children’s books, to supporting literacy and reading projects across the world, and to developing international understanding through children’s books” (IBBY UK, 2017). The non-profit organisation has a number of activities aimed at “bringing children and books together” (IBBY, n.d.). Their Children In Crisis Fund supports projects to replace or create libraries in areas that have experienced natural disasters or conflict. Another initiative is Silent Books, “a collection of children’s books without words, created as a response to the need for books on the Italian island of Lampedusa, the destination for many refugees fleeing North Africa and the Middle East” (IBBY, n.d.).
Michael Rosen at the 33rd IBBY International Congress, another IBBY activity
Along with International Children’s Book Day, IBBY presents the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award to authors and illustrators, who have made a significant contribution to children’s literature. Recipients include the authors, Martin Waddell, Margaret Mahy, Katherine Paterson, Astrid Lingren and Tove Jansson, and the illustrators, Quentin Blake, Anthony Browne, Robert Ingpen and Maurice Sendak.
The article, Hans Christian Andersen: Father of the Modern Fairy Tale by Terri Windling, provides information about the writer. It makes interesting reading and gives an insight into the man behind such fairy tales as The Snow Queen, The Princess and the Pea, and The Little Mermaid.
As we celebrate International Children’s Book Day, let’s embrace the important work of IBBY and promote children’s literature every day, helping all children to grow with books!