Celebrate World Book Day with Nalíbali

April 23, 2015

nali 3
Every year on 23 April, South Africa celebrates World Book Day. Today Nal’ibali, PRAESA´s large-scale national reading promotion program, is launching a special children’s literacy rights poster to assert and affirm for children what they need to become inspired and competent readers and writers. Carole Bloch, Director of PRAESA says:

– Many organisations and communities across South Africa are aware of the fundamental challenge we all face in bringing joy and meaning to print in South African languages to all our children – including the very youngest. At Nal’ibali, we believe all children can grow up to be powerful readers and writers and we hope to further empower them with this guide.

The poster has been developed to further the impact of PRAESA’s 2014 Charter of Children’s Literacy Rights, which helps adults to put in place the conditions and resources children need to become fully literate.

– The poster is available in all 11 South African languages to ensure ease of access to the content, and to affirm the equal importance of all languages for literacy development, says Arabella Koopman, Nal’ibali Content Development Manager.

It´s available in the following languages:

Kitty Crowther in Mons – premiére tomorrow!

April 22, 2015

Photo: Gerda Dendooven


Photo: Mons2015

For four weeks now, 2010 ALMA laureate Kitty Crowter has been working with a very special project in Maison Losseau, Mons, Belgium.

She’s been making illustrations, just like a Venetian painter, in a white box inside the Maison Lossseau. Tomorrow the box opens and everyone will be invited to enter it through a little, very little door and will dive in the wonderful world of the slag heap or rather in the wonderful idea Kitty has of it: an imaginary scenery in real size, drawn from the floor to the ceiling. Little creatures, crazy trees, unbelievable Worlds.

The installation is open for a month, until May 25th. The project is part of Mons2015 – European Capital of Culture, more information here.

Congratulations Kitty – we ´d loved to be there!

Photo: Mons2015

Photo: Gerda Dendooven

A greeting from Näs

April 17, 2015
Photo: Astrid Lindgren's Näs

Photo: Astrid Lindgren’s Näs

The award office got his lovely photo from Anneli Karlsson at visitor’s centre Astrid Lindgren’s Näs after the announcement. Students from intermediate level of compulsory school (11-year-olds) in Vimmerby followed the press conference live at Näs. During the upcoming weeks they will study the work of PRAESA and learn more about South Africa and reading promotion. Soon (late May) they´re going to meet PRAESA’s representatives in connection with the award week. As Anneli Karlsson put it: We all look forward to meeting them!

PRAESA strives to support children’s self-esteem and linguistic identities

April 14, 2015


PRAESA, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, was founded in 1992 by the anti-apartheid activist and academic Neville Alexander, who was held for ten years as a political prisoner alongside Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. From the 1980s until his death in 2012, Alexander worked to raise awareness of multilingualism as a key to personal and societal development. His objective was to offer children schooling and literature in their native tongues. For more than twenty years now, PRAESA has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture.

PRAESA has three core goals: to provide children with high-quality literature in the various South African languages; to collaborate with and foster new networks among publishers and reading promotion organisations; and to initiate and carry out activities that support and sustain a culture of reading and storytelling in socially vulnerable communities. South Africa is a country of 11 official languages, with a large gap between poor schools in rural areas and townships and urban schools with stronger resources. PRAESA was an early advocate of using literature and stories in literacy instruction. It has also addressed fundamental questions of how to support school systems in vulnerable areas and how to encourage bilingual or multilingual teaching.

In 2006, PRAESA started the Vulindlela Reading Club in Langa, a township outside Cape Town. The club was quickly followed by many more, both in Cape Town and in other provinces. Club activities emphasize the importance of weaving together books and group reading with dramatization, singing games and storytelling. PRAESA strives to support children’s self-esteem and linguistic identities and activities are held both in children’s native languages and in English. The starting point is always children’s natural curiosity about stories, reading and literature. The Vulindlela Reading Club formed the point of departure for the Nal’ibali project: a large-scale national reading promotion program begun in 2012. Nal’ibali is a network of reading clubs that uses media campaigns to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents and teachers to read with them.

PRAESA believes in change at the grass-roots level. Reading clubs are run by local volunteers, who attend workshops and receive training and mentoring. They continuously develops its strategies and methods to support socially vulnerable areas and reach out with stories and books.

PRAESA’s work manifests fundamental values of democracy and a view on human rights inherited from its founder, Neville Alexander. It is pledged to break down language barriers and support the peaceful co-existence of languages, in partnership with others and with full faith in linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity.

PRAESA is the 2015 Laureate for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Link to the jury citation here.

PRAESA presented at the Swedish Children’s Institute for Children’s Books

April 10, 2015


Yesterday jury members Elina Druker and Mats Kempe gave a presentation of PRAESA at the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books. Present teachers and librarians were curious about knowing more about PRAESA: s activities, especially how they are dealing with multi-language questions.  The conclusion was that we all have a lot learn from them!

IMG_0170 (2)

After their presentation Gunilla Lundgren, reading promoter who is  famous for introducing Nobel laureates to the Children in Rinkeby, shared her experience of co-operations with Vulindlela reading clubs.

Reactions in media

April 2, 2015


The news that PRAESA was announced as the 2015 ALMA Laureate on Tuesday resulted in reactions from many news channels from different parts of the world. Here are some examples of media covering the announcement:


The Guardian

BBC News

Frankfurter Allgemeine

El Universo

The Times of India

Global Post



Africa News

The Hindu

Daily Journal

Neue Bücher Zeitung

Publishers Weekly

Daily Herald

The story was also reported in several South African media channels, such as

Times Live

Business Day

Cape Times

Sowetan News


Philip Pullman, author and 2005 ALMA Laureate was among the first to congratulate PRAESA:

My warm congratulations to PRAESA, and my hopes that the award will do wonders for the encouragenment of reading and storytelling in South Africa.
Philip Pullman

A day to remember

April 1, 2015

Our photographer Stefan Tell worked hard yesterday afternoon – here are some of his photos from the announcement at the National Library of Sweden.

Speech by Sweden’s Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke.


Jury Chairman Boel Westin announced the 2015 Laureate: PRAESA!


Reactions from the audience at the National Library!


Henry Ascher, professor of paediatrics and member of the ALMA jury presented the work of PRAESA.


Neville Alexander, the founder of PRAESA.


The press conference was followed by interviews…


…and interviews…


…and some more interviews.


And outside the sun was shining! :-)


PRAESA of South Africa receives the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

March 31, 2015

Based in Cape Town, PRAESA (Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) is an organisation that has worked to promote reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992.

The Jury’s Citation reads:

With the joy of reading as its compass point, PRAESA opens new routes into the world of books and literature for young readers in South Africa. Through innovative reading and storytelling projects, PRAESA brings people together and brings literature in multiple languages alive. PRAESA’s outstanding work shows the world the crucial role of books and stories in creating rich, full lives for our children and young people.

For more than twenty years, PRAESA has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture. Its work focuses on encouraging children to read for enjoyment, building their self-esteem, and helping them connect to their native language through reading and story.

PRAESA has three core goals: to provide children with high-quality literature in the various South African languages; to collaborate with and foster new networks among publishers and organisations that promote reading; and to initiate and carry out activities that can help sustain a living culture of reading and storytelling in socially vulnerable communities. PRAESA works in constant dialogue with the latest research and in collaboration with volunteers at the grass roots level.

To encourage children to read in their native languages, PRAESA produced the Little Hands books, a series of short books in different African languages. Another project, the Vulindlela Reading Club, combined oral storytelling with reading, singing games, and dramatizations, and led to the formation of many more reading clubs in Cape Town and other provinces. The national reading promotion initiative Nal’ibali is a network of reading clubs that uses media campaigns to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents, and teachers to read with them.

In 2014, PRAESA received the Asahi Reading Promotion Award, a prize instituted by the International Board on Books for Young People, IBBY.

PRAESA will accept the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award at the Stockholm Concert Hall on June 1, 2015.

More information
Helene Andersson, Communications Officer
Phone: +46 (0)76 540 10 17
E-mail: helene.andersson@alma.se

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. The UN convention of rights of the child is the foundation of our work. An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded by the Swedish government in 2002 and is administrated by the Swedish Arts Council.

Tomorrow is the day

March 30, 2015

Soundcheck and rehearsals at the National Library of Sweden before the big day tomorrow!

Lisa Haglund, the Award office.

Lisa Haglund, the Award office.

Producer Niklas Lind and sound technician Calle Nordstrand.

Sound technician Calle Nordstrand and producer Niklas Lind.


Discussion on trends in children’s literature at the Swedish Embassy in London

March 26, 2015
Nicola Clase, Fen Coles and Michael Rosen.

Nicola Clase, Fen Coles and Michael Rosen.

Earlier today the Embassy in London hosted a breakfast to discuss trends in children’s literature and how to promote reading among children and youth. The breakfast was organized ahead of the announcement of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award next week, and one of the topics for discussion was the role of prizes and awards in raising the profile of children’s literature and reading.

Among the 40 guests were two of the British nominated candidates – Professor Michael Rosen and Fen Coles of Letterbox Library – along with several nominating bodies as well as authors, reading promotion organizations and publishers.

Ambassador Nicola Clase kicked off the morning by stressing the importance of reading – how it develops cognitive skills and emotional intelligence; encourages creativity and expands the imagination. She then handed over to Charlotte Eyre of The Bookseller, to start the discussion. Charlotte described the process of developing the YA Book Prize, a new prize for UK and Irish books for young adults, of which she is jury chair. The prize has been developed in close dialogue, through social media, with youths, which has created a unique involvement and ownership of the prize from its intended audience. But beyond prizes, what else can be done to increase reading among young people?

What followed was a spirited debate, covering topics such as gender differences when it comes to reading ability and attitudes towards reading, the role of education as well as libraries, and the pivotal role of role models.

Pam Dix, chair of IBBY UK, seconded the importance of literary prizes, not least because children love to talk to each other about things they do, read or hear about. An award can start that conversation, and thus be an inspiration. In the same vein it was also said that there only needs to be one reader in a class – this one person can inspire everyone else.

One of the final remarks came from Steve Gardam, the recently appointed director of The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. He underlined the importance of accentuating the positives of reading – that any reading, be it comics or the sports pages, can be a gateway to more reading.

The various perspectives that came to light contributed to a multifaceted and thoughtful discussion. A belief that most guests seemed to have in common was how important the feeling of pure enjoyment is as a driving force when it comes to children and young adults reading more.

Ellen Wettmark

Counsellor for Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden

Ruth Oakley from Southbank Centre.

Ruth Oakley from Southbank Centre.

Emma Lowe from the Bookseller.

Emma Lowe from the Bookseller.



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