A chat with new jurymember Annika Edlund

Photo: Curt Dahlgren

On July 1st Annika Edlund will take the position as new member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury, along with paediatrician Henry Ascher and author and librarian Mats Kempe.The awardoffice caught up with Annika Edlund at her summer holiday home on the coast overlooking the Gulf of Bothnia, to ask her some curious questions.

Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Annika Edlund?

I’m a librarian, a literary educator and a former primary school teacher. I help run a cooperative book café, and I’m president of an arts association and an association that promotes young writers from Sweden’s north. I’m passionate about literature, children’s arts and adult education. I also write a blog about children’s and young adult literature. It consists mainly of book reviews and provides me with an easy channel for discussing what I’m currently reading with the teachers and educators I encounter in the course of my work.

My husband Janne, who’s the shop steward at the Volvo Trucks plant in Umeå, is also a great reader and shares my interest in literature and adult education. We have four children and three grandchildren, who still live in and around Umeå.

You’re described as a passionate supporter and readig promoter. What is it that drives you?

I just think children’s and young adult literature is so, so important! I really want everyone to take up reading, for the sake of a better life, for the sake of community engagement, for the sheer joy of it. But reading doesn’t promote itself – advocacy is critical, and I want to make people appreciate the importance of reading and embrace children’s books. You have to blow the trumpet for reading all the time. Interest in books among children and young people has fallen dramatically in recent years. In fact, very few of them now go through a book addiction phase. You don’t become a great reader unless you’ve had a great reading experience – and most people don’t get that without help. Adults, teachers and educators must constantly demonstrate the importance of reading. Once you’ve become a book addict, you’re hooked for life.

What makes a book a good book?

Now that’s a question! The language is important – it should flow well and be poetic. It should be easy to listen to when read aloud. The text should captivate the reader. If it’s a picture book, images and text should interact with each other and with the reading.

How do you feel about your new role as a jury member for the world’s biggest prize for children’s and young adult literature?

It’s a great honour, and I’m still a little stunned. It will be fun to learn more about children’s and young adult literature in other languages, and I’m particularly interested in reading promoters and the vital role they play in different parts of the world.

What will you be reading in your hammock this summer?

I always have a pile of children’s and young adult books saved up, such as Ingelin Angerborn’s Månfågel, Malte Persson’s new picture book and Michael Williams’ Now is the Time for Running. I’m also looking forward to reading Knausgård’s third book and a book called Born to Run, about how to find the soul of running, which my son gave me for my birthday yesterday.


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