Reflections from Göteborg Book Fair by guest blogger Lotta Brilioth

We asked Lotta Brilioth Biörnstad, coordinator for children’s culture at the Swedish Arts Council, to share some of her reflections from the book fair:

During the last days of September literature is celebrated at the Göteborg Book Fair. The first two days most of the visitors are librarians, authors, policymakers, publishers and other advocates for literature. For me, going there is like being a kid again, with my own toy store. So many interesting seminars, so many good news (yes, there are problems too), so many smart, hardworking, competent people looking for new, wonderful children’s books and for useful methods to make children read.

Yesterday the Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, presented a government bill on literature. Among other things it proposes a new commission for the Arts Council to promote childrens literature “on a national, strategic, level”. Childrens’ reading is really on the agenda these days. Like every other European country we are worried about the fact that the number of poor readers is increasing. Especially teenage boys read less. During the last two days I have listened to scholars, teachers, authors and librarians adressing the problem. A depressing thing is a new investigation that shows that many teachers read very little, or not at all. Librarians, on the contrary, read much more than the average citizen. Even children read quite a lot, but a great part of it is short texts on the internet, on the mobile phone, while playing computer games.

We need to make teachers read, organize modern school libraries, with professional librarians, promote cooperation between public libraries and schools and, of course, make sure that all those fantastic books reach the children. One of the solutions is to start seeing new media as a useful tool instead of a threat to “real” books. But, personally, I’m old fashioned enough to prefer paper books. Do I need to say that my suitcase was stuffed with books, when I left Gothenburg to take the train back to Stockholm. I will spend the rest of the weekend curled up in the sofa, traveling only in my mind.

Lotta Brilioth Biörnstad
Coordinator for children’s culture
Swedish Arts Council

Signe Westin from the Swedish Arts Council with Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth

Signe Westin from the Swedish Arts Council with Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth

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