The Strength of Minorities

The 32nd International IBBY Congress was ceremoniously opened last night by IBBY President Patricia Aldana and the Spanish Minister of Culture Ángeles González-Sinde among others. Fans of children’s books from more than 50 countries have made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia to participate in the congress under the theme: The Strength of Minorities.

Today, the highlight of the congress was the opening plenary lecture by Emilia Ferreiro. The psycholinguist from Argentina/Mexico held an inspiring lecture about children’s own thoughts about writing and how children become literate.

She also spoke about multilingualism and how this historically, in many parts of the world, has been seen as a threat to building a unified nation state. However, minority languages have stubbornly survived marginalization and Emilia Ferreiro gave several examples of how diversity of languages could – and should – be seen as a learning advantage instead of a pedagogical obstacle.

Finally, she presented a study made with children aged 3-5 in Turino, Italy. The study revealed children’s own advanced thoughts on spoken and written language as well as their understanding of the concept of translation.

Another interesting part of the program was a round table chaired by the inimitable Anne Pellowski. The participants discussed oral tradition and storytelling, particularly in minorities without written languages. Swati Raje, from India, spoke about the Bhaashaa interactive center, which uses storytelling and the local oral tradition to increase interest in the written word.

The day ended with the presentation of the 2010 IBBY Honour List Diplomas.

IBBY generously supports the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award by inviting the national sections to be official nominating bodies for our award.

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