Children have a right to culture, say laureates

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play,” according to Philip Pullman, 2005 recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). Pullman is one of the 11 laureates featured in an exhibition marking ALMA’s 10th anniversary, to be staged at the world’s biggest book fair for children’s and young adult literature in Bologna, Italy.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is 10 years old this year. For a decade now, the award has promoted interest in children’s and young adult literature around the world. The anniversary celebrations start at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, from 19 to 22 March, where a number of ALMA laureates will take part in various seminars.

“This will be the first time so many award recipients have all been present in the one place,” says Helen Sigeland, director of ALMA. “We’re looking forward to plenty of stimulating dialogue between our laureates and the public. Our exhibition and commemorative booklet will focus on promoting interest in children’s and young adult literature in an international context.”

Australian author Sonya Hartnett is one of the laureates visiting Bologna to mark the award’s 10th anniversary. She will be discussing the importance of children having access to good books with fellow author and laureate Katherine Paterson.

“A quality book for young people should leave them a different and slightly better person than the one they were when they began reading the book,” says Hartnett.

The laureates taking part in the Bologna event are Kitty Crowther, illustrator (Belgium, 2010), the Tamer Institute for Community Education, promotor of reading (Palestinian territories, 2009), Sonya Hartnett, author (Australia, 2008), Banco del Libro, promotor of reading (Venezuela, 2007), Katherine Paterson, author (USA, 2006), Ryôji Arai, illustrator (Japan, 2005) and Lygia Bojunga, author (Brazil, 2004).

The programme for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair will be available shortly on the Fair’s website.

The recipient or recipients of the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award will be announced to coincide with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The announcement will be made on Tuesday 20 March, at 1 pm, at Astrid Lindgren’s Näs in Vimmerby, Sweden. It will be broadcast via a live link to Bologna and online at http://www.alma.se/en.

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