“The right to culture is the right to liberation from the restrictions imposed by education,” according to the Dutch author Guus Kuijer, last year’s recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. His words are especially relevant in the context of the world’s largest book fair for children’s and young adult literature, which takes place in Bologna, Italy, from 25 to 28 March.
Children’s right to culture is the overall theme of Sweden’s presence as the first Nordic guest of honour at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Children’s right to culture is all about the right of children to participate in society and have access to art, culture and information. It is also about giving children a voice in the form of good-quality children’s and young adult literature.
A genuine children’s perspective is something that is shared by all the authors, illustrators and reading advocates who have received the annual Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Shaun Tan, illustrator and author, was the 2011 recipient:
“Imagination is arguably the key to all success, and also freedom from a certain tyranny of mediocre thought, low expectation and closed mindedness. Imagination is also a fragile thing; although it seems to be a natural talent every child is born with, it can be easily blunted or malnourished unless it remains exposure to a broad range of creative thinking. Books in particular remind us that the world is constructed through imagination as much as real-life experience, and so leave us empowered to think about new possibilities. “
Illustrator and author Kitty Crowther, who received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize in 2010, has a broader view of Children’s right to culture:
“It’s not just children. This is the right of everybody. That is why the little local libraries are of huge importance; with non-sedentary activities where the generations are mingled.”
The uncompromising child’s eye view is a constant presence in Guus Kuijer’s work, and the platform for an insightful portrayal of the adult world through his main protagonists. He will be appearing at the Salaborsa library in Bologna on 27 March at 2 pm. The recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2013 will be announced the day before.