Hot off the press in Bologna…..IBBY 2012 Award Winners

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Announced today at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair:

2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners:

Maria Teresa Andruetto (Argentina) – Author

Peter Sis (Czech Republic) – Illustrator

IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award Winners:

Abuelas Cuentacuentos – The Grandmother Storytelling Programme (Argentina)


SIPAR (Cambodia)


Interview with Dashdondog Jamba, Mongolian author and literacy advocate

Monday, April 11th, 2011

We are delighted to welcome author Dashdondog Jamba to PaperTigers. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the amazing Mobile Library he founded in Mongolia some twenty years ago and we also featured a reprint of an article he wrote for IBBY’s journal Bookbird. Dashdondog has published more than seventy books, some of which can be read in English on the ICDL; he also has a blog, which includes translations of some of his poems, as featured in a recent Poetry Friday post. I’m grateful to Ramendra Kumar for putting me in contact with Dashdondog initially, and to Dashdondog himself for taking my inability to communicate in Mongolian in his stride – as well as for sending some great photos.

You have devoted your life to making it possible for children to have access to books. Can you give us some background to what Mongolia was like when you started out as a writer in the 1960s?

In 1958 the agricultural collectivization policy, which entailed handing livestock over to cooperatives, was almost completed in Mongolia. And even though my family didn’t like it, we delivered our livestock to the agricultural cooperative. It was a difficult time for rural herders to part from their beloved livestock. I clearly remember the moment when my grandma was crying about the “pitiable livestock”, and breeding lambs and kids were bleating and trying to run back to their shelters. Yet writers had written that herders had given their livestock to the agricultural cooperatives voluntarily. At that time my first book was published by the State Publishing House. I was 17 years old and in secondary school. From my first book you can only feel the heart of a boy who loves his lambs and calves. So I am always glad that I chose children’s literature as a career far from politics.

What changes have you witnessed, and indeed been instrumental in over the years?

For me who has been witness of two different societies there is opportunity to compare their weaknesses and advantages. I thankfully welcomed democracy, which brought us the freedom to think and have our own opinions. The freedom declared by socialism was limited, like wearing tight clothes. I can bear witness to it because I was considered as anti-communist and punished by losing the right to publish books.

What prompted you to start your now famous travelling library?

In 1990 Mongolia renounced communism and chose democracy with a free-market economy. During the privatization of property former children’s organizations were not taken over by anybody because they were considered as profitless and uneconomic. The formerly state-run children’s book publishing house became a private school, the children’s library became a private bank and the children’s cinema became the stock exchange.

Even though I had fought against it, my efforts didn’t work. Then I asked myself what we should be writing for children in this new society to read. It was unthinkable to present them with books written along the lines of the only way we had open to us under the socialist regime.

I felt the only place that could answer my question was the International Youth Library in Munich: so I went there. They gave me their list of the best children’s books. And I started to translate those books and published 108 books with my own money. Then I founded the mobile library and provided the rural children with those books. That is the most suitable activity for the nomadic life.

The mobile library was awarded the IBBY-Asahi reading Promotion Award in 2006. In your acceptance speech you shared something that you tell the children who come to the library: “After eating candies there remains nothing. But after reading a book you will have it in your head.” You said that, in the same way that children like to eat sweets from around the world, you would use the award to make it possible for Mongolian children to enjoy books written and published in different countries. Has that indeed been possible? (more…)

Mongolia: Dashdondog Jamba and the Mongolian Mobile Children’s Library

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Our current focus on Mongolia would be incomplete without a full mention of poet, writer and librarian extraordinaire, Dashdondog Jamba, who set up Mongolia’s Mobile Children’s Library more than twenty years ago in order to bring books to children even in the remotest parts of the country. We are delighted to be able to bring you a reprint of an article from IBBY’s Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature written by Dashdondog, “With the Mobile Library Through the Seasons“. Do head over to the main PaperTigers website and read it for some fascinating insight into the Mobile Library service, through this detailed description of one of its journeys. Originally the library was transported by oxcart or camel; now there is a van which clocks up thousands of kilometers every year. The library won the 2006 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award and features in Margriet Ruurs‘ book My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World.

As well as ensuring that Mongolian children have access to books from all over the world, Dashdondog Jamba (sometimes also written as Jambyn) is himself the author of more than seventy children’s books. Not many are available in English but you can get a tantalising glimpse of some of them here, at the ICDL. A collection of his retellings of Mongolian Folktales was published recently and is currently our Book of the Month. Dashdondog was instrumental in setting up the Mongolian sections of both SCBWI and IBBY.

You can read an article by Dashdondog, “Children’s Literature in Mongolia Needs Renovation” written for ACCU in 2001, and his speech to IBBY’s 30th Congress in Macau in 2006. Indian author Ramendra Kumar recounts his meeting with Dashdondog here, including an unexpected prelude – and some great photos.

2010 Hans Christian Andersen and IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award Winners Announced Today

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Today at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) announced the winners of the 2010 Hans Christian Anderson Award. PaperTigers was there to hear the exciting news. We send our congratulations to the winners, author  David Almond, from the United Kingdom, and illustrator  Jutta Bauer, from Germany.

Also announced at today’s press conference was the winner of the  IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. This award is presented to projects run by groups or institutions that are judged to be making a lasting contribution to reading promotion for children and young people. 12 projects were nominated this year and two winners selected: Osu Children’s Library Fund (Ghana) and Convenio de Cooperación al Plan de Lectura (Medellín, Colombia).

Click here to read the press releases.

Librarians at Bologna – Part 3: Putting Books into the Hands of Children

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

During our session with the IFLA (International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions) in Bologna, both speakers (Patsy Aldana and Viviana Quiñones) stressed the importance of children having access to books which both reflect their experiences and open windows onto other customs and cultures. We were urged to pay a visit to the stand shared by a number of different African publishers, and there we met three very special publishers, all producing books to meet that demand.

The first two were librarians we had met at the session the day before: Antoinette F. Correa from BLD (Bibliothèque-Lecture-Développement) Éditions in Senegal and Pili Dumea of the Children’s Book Project (CBP) for Tanzania.

Antoinette F. Correa of BLD Éditions, Senegal

Antoinette, pictured right with a selection of her books, told me that she set up BLD Éditions to meet the needs of both teachers and pupils, who were crying out for access to good books in their own language. She is a well-known figure in the IFLA, and sees the continued development of libraries as crucial work: as well as publishing books, BLD helps to set up libraries and trains librarians.

Pili Dumea, Children-s Book Project for Tanzania

Pili, pictured left, is secretary to the CBP for Tanzania, which, again, connects children with books published locally. Last year the CBP was awarded the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for its work promoting the love of books among children and adults. One eleven-year-old, talking about her school library, following the school’s affiliation to the CBP, said

“I have read most of the books in the school library which helped me learn about different topics through interesting stories told in our own national language, Kiswahili, which is easier to understand than English.”

The third publisher was Bakamé Éditions from Rwanda, who publish children’s books in the national language, Kinyarwanda, which is understood by all Rwandans. They also run various projects to promote reading, including their “Bibliothèque en route” – a rucksack library, which takes books out to children who do not have access to an actual library. It gets a tiny mention on their English pages, but if you read French, there’s more here. Editions Bakamé was the joint recipient of this year’s IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award and this article on IBBY’s website is also an interesting read.

The work these organisations are doing is truly awe-inspiring and it was a real privilege to meet Antoinette and Pili.

Librarians at Bologna – Part 1: Books as Mirrors

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Continuing with our current literacy focus, and thinking towards World Literacy Day on September 8th, this is the first of three posts focusing on and beyond a session at this year’s Bologna Book Fair…

In my first post following our return from the Bologna Book Fair, I highlighted the session organised by the IFLA (International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions). The session was organised by the Netherlands Public Library Association and they called it “Invitation to JES: Join – Enjoy – Share”. Despite not being librarians, Aline and I were made very welcome and we really enjoyed chatting to the librarians afterwards. In fact, the various informal discussions got so lively that we were asked to keep the noise down – well, makes a change! As well as our Dutch hosts, there were children’s librarians there from all over the world: Australia, Colombia, Croatia, France, Italy, Japan, Senegal and Tanzania. The atmosphere was buzzing!

We had two speakers: the first, Patsy Aldana, the current president of IBBY, gave us a fascinating talk entitled “Books as Mirrors” in which she traced the history of multicultural book publishing in her home-country, Canada, where her own Groundwood Books has been so ground-breaking (for more on multiculturalism in Canadian publishing, see here). Her childhood in Guatemala without books to mirror her own experiences, mean that she also has a personal affinity to the world of multicultural books. It had been a very painful struggle, she said, to define the role of the writer: who could write legitimately about what? Those white people who had been the only published writers of books under the multicultural umbrella would ask, “Why can’t I write whatever I want? Who are you to tell me not to write about your experience?” and were being asked “What right do you have to steal my story – the world you’re describing is not real”.

This situation is now much resolved in Canada but there are still real concerns. “Children need books that are windows and books that are mirrors,” she said: and unfortunately there is uneven access for children to these kinds of books. What happens to children who never see themselves in the books they read; and one step further, what happens when children are not taught to read in their own language? It is an enormous disincentive to the desire to read. She pointed to the work of some “fabulous” small publishers from all over the world and urged us to visit their stands at the fair – such as Tara Books from India, Ekeré from Venezuela, and Editions Bakamé from Rwanda, (which shared this year’s IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award). Small publishers need our support because so often it is their books which give “that flash of recognition – That is me!”

Citing the example of an Iranian librarian in Sweden who is able to ensure that children of Iranian background can access books attuned to their experience and outlook, Patsy concluded by saying that librarians are the people who can be relied on to bring books to children. Librarians can insist on quality – for without quality it is hard to foster a love of reading and provide the key to the mirror/window.

I think there’s plenty to chew on there and I will post about the second speaker in Part 2!