30,000 books by Astrid Lindgren and Gunilla Bergström to refugee children in Sweden

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Good news from copyright company Saltkråkan:

From March 9, 30 000 copies of Astrid Lindgren’s The Red Bird and Gunilla Bergström’s Good Night, Alfie Atkins in Arabic will be distributed to children who have come to Sweden as refugees from war and disaster. The project has been initiated by Saltkråkan AB, the copyright company run by Astrid Lindgren’s family, and the children’s book publishing company Rabén & Sjögren. It is a collaborative venture with the Migration Agency and Save the Children.

The initiative for the project comes from Marit Törnqvist, the illustrator of Astrid Lindgren’s book, The Red Bird. The idea was born when she visited an asylum accommodation complex, having brought with her a copy of this book translated into Arabic. The reactions from grownups and children were immediate – they turned the pages, read, pointed and laughed. She felt that all Arabic speaking children should be given a copy of The Red Bird, in their own language, as a welcome present.

The Red Bird is very symbolic story, and my strong desire is that Sweden will be a Sunnymead for the children who come here”, says Marit Törnqvist.

Gunilla Bergström’s picture book Good Night, Alfie Atkins is also being distributed through this unique collaborative venture. This will be done with the help of the Migration Agency, and Save the Children will be distributing the books as a part of their activities among the children.

“It’s particularly in times of tragedy that we need songs, poems and stories – all types of cultural expression – more than ever! To give us hope. Or comfort? Or to give us new strength!” says Gunilla Bergström.

The books have been financed by Saltkråkan AB and Rabén & Sjögren, and all the authors, illustrators and translators have refrained from receiving their royalties. Bok-Makaren AB (the copyright company of Alfie Atkins), Junibacken and Opsis Barnkultur have also contributed financially.

“We know that reading is the ground for children’s language, vocabulary and development. This is our way of letting the future readers meet hope, fantasy and storytelling in Swedish children’s books”, says Ann Sköld, Publishing Director at Rabén & Sjögren.

For Saltkråkan AB, the copyright company that is run by Astrid Lindgren’s family, this project is a logical consequence of the values reflected in the life and works of Astrid Lindgren.

“The children who come to Sweden as refugees should be made to feel welcome and should have the opportunity, through good children’s books in their own language, to understand the place they’ve come to. All children’s equal value and right to culture were basic standards to Astrid Lindgren”, says Annika Lindgren, Head of Publishing at Saltkråkan.

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