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International Children’s Book Day 2024

By Holly Allwright and Ekta Rajagopalan

 

International Children's Book Day commemorates the importance of literature for young readers and celebrates the universal joy of storytelling. Established in 1967 by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the day honours the birthday of renowned Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, whose timeless tales such as The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and The Emperor's New Clothes, have captivated generations. Since its beginning, International Children's Book Day has served as a global platform to promote children's literature, literacy and cultural understanding. Each year, events, activities and initiatives take place worldwide to encourage children to explore the realms of their imaginations found within the pages of books. Through this celebration, the legacy of Andersen and countless other storytellers continues to inspire young readers around the globe. Each year, a different country sponsors the celebration, a prominent local author is chosen to write a letter to the world's children and an illustrator is chosen to design the poster. This year’s sponsor is Japan, with the theme, “Cross the seas on the wing of your imagination.” The author chosen for this year is Eiko Kadono and the illustrator is Nana Furiya.

 

Eiko Kadono

 

Eiko Kadono is a prominent Japanese author known for Kiki’s Delivery Service and composed this year’s letter. Kadono has various qualifications in academia and the world, having studied American literature at Waseda University, worked at a publishing company and travelled to São Paulo with her husband. Born in 1935, she published her first book in 1970 and has since published around two hundred and fifty books, later translated into ten languages. Kadono believes that “[...] people will start to look at the world in a different way after reading a story, and it's the beginning in a sense. And I think that is the true pleasure of reading [...]” which seems beautifully fitting for this year’s theme of inclusion and imagination.

 

Nana Furiya

 

Nana Furiya, an international-minded Japanese artist living in Slovakia, created the poster for this year's artwork. She is an illustrator and author of over seventy picture books for children. Nana Furiya moved to Slovakia to study printmaking and illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava under Professor Dušan Kállay. In 2012, she was the organiser of the travelling exhibition, ‘From Hand to Hand’, held at the Bologna Medieval Museum, in which illustrators were invited from around the world to reflect upon the role of art in times of catastrophe.


IBBY at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

 

Between 8 and 11 April, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair will be hosted for the 61st time, bringing together a diverse cohort of creatives and publishing professionals. During this celebration of children’s literature, IBBY will have a stand and present many awards throughout the fair, such as the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2024 and various IBBY Reading Promotion Awards.

 

ICBD Celebrations at Rutgers University

 

Rutgers University’s Alexander Library is celebrating International Children’s Book Day by hosting a lively event held virtually and in-person on 2 April, from 4:00–6:00 p.m. EST. Rutgers SC&I (School of Communication and Information) Associate Professor Marc Aronson says that this event has been created “to honour the genre of literature for children and teens […] Reading children’s stories from other cultures inspires adults to see the world differently, and provides opportunities to expand ideas surrounding diversity, inclusion, and access. Through this medium of books for children and teenagers, adults can expand their sense of being part of our shared world.” This year’s celebration will include performances and readings, such as a Rutgers undergraduate Chinese dance troupe performance and a virtual presentation of the best international picture books.

 

Origins of IBBY 

 

The conception of IBBY can be traced back to a woman named Jella Lepman, a Jewish journalist and author. She fled Nazi Germany during World War Two to England but later returned and set up a meeting in Munich in 1951. The objective of this meeting was encapsulated in its name: “International Understanding through Children’s Books”. Two hundred and fifty guests from twenty-six countries, including authors, publishers, teachers and philosophers of the time, took part. From then on, a committee was appointed to create the International Board on Books for Young People. IBBY is celebrating its 51st anniversary this year.

 

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