”May everyone really mean everyone!! This is the chosen motto for the 34th IBBY Congress. The message from the organisers is that people who read books are in contact with others. When differences in customs, religion, languages, lifestyles etc. occur, they do not make us vulnerable; they enhance us if we know something about the world outside our own.
Some 900 participants listened to Alicia Molina, Mexican writer and key note speaker when she on Thursday opened the congress. She focused on the importance of art and culture for the inclusion of children with disabilities. A truly free society accepts differences, and the concept of the normal – is what? Who is perfect? Nobody. Or everybody, if you stop comparing one person with another. Looking away is the ultimate form of excluding and making people invisible. And this goes for children too. Where are the disabled children in literature for young readers? What is not mentioned in books is not seen and hence not understood. “The experience of literature is the experience of others” says Octavio Paz. Literature is the most important thing mankind has invented to be able to take part in other people’s lives and we should use it, concluded Alicia Molina.