November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

IBBY’S Initiatives to Bring Books and Children Together

“Through the Looking Glass: Exploring the Wonderland of International Children’s Literature,” the International Board on Books for Young People’s (IBBY) 11th regional conference held in New York City from October 16-18, celebrated 150 years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the enduring quality of children’s literature worldwide. Sponsored by USBBY, a national section of IBBY, the conference welcomed international guests and United States participants from coast to coast.

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From left: Alida Cutts, Bill Teale, Wally De Doncker, and Janelle Mathis. Photo by Junko Yokota.

Representatives of IBBY shared their vision, information about activities, and international projects that bring books and children together. IBBY President Wally De Doncker from Belgium recounted how German journalist and author Jella Lepman established the International Youth Library in Munich 1949 and IBBY in 1953. Today IBBY has “Seventy-seven national sections all over the world,” De Doncker said. He noted that “to Jella Lepman, the most important mission of IBBY was the promotion of mutual understanding between nations through good literature for children.” Further, “IBBY protects the rights of the child when needed. When these rights are being violated, we will always choose to protect the child.” Click here for a PDF of De Doncker’s speech.

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From left: Patsy Aldana and Oralia Garza de Cortes. Photo by Junko Yokota.

Oralia Garza de Cortes, co-chair of the REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) Children in Crisis Task Force, and Patsy Aldana, president of the IBBY Foundation, described the Children in Crisis project, which distributes books and backpacks to unaccompanied refugee children being detained in the southwestern United States. The IBBY Foundation has recently supported this important project with $10,000. IBBY, USBBY, IBBY Mexico/A leer, the American Library Association, and the Texas Library Association are collaborating with REFORMA in this effort. These organizations have expressed the need for children to have “access to appropriate books, to have contact with Spanish-speaking librarians who are trained in using books as therapeutic agents, and to ensure that their well-being is monitored as they are processed through the system.”

IBBY’s Executive Director, Liz Page, highlighted many IBBY projects, including the collection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, located at Toronto Public Library, and the IBBY Honour List of recently published books from national sections, honoring authors, illustrators and translators. Björn Sundmark, editor of IBBY’s journal Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature, met with those interested in writing  or learning more about the journal.

In her role as the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Jury president, Patsy Aldana warmly recognized Nami Island Inc, of the Republic of Korea, as sponsor of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards. Participants delighted in listening to three Hans Christian Andersen recipients—Roger Mello (Brazil), 2014 Illustrator, David Almond (UK), 2010 Author, and Lisbeth Zwerger (Austria), 1990 Illustrator.

Christiane Raabe, director, of the International Youth Library, introduced the Anaarestan Exhibit, which was digitally presented during the conference. Anaarestan, which means “the land of the pomegranate” in Persian, features illustrations of 16 Iranian illustrators.

The biennial 2016 IBBY Congress will take place in Auckland, New Zealand, from August 18-21, 2016.

Evelyn B. Freeman is dean emerita, professor emerita at The Ohio State University. She serves on the IBBY executive board.

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