The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award – Ahrvid Engholm (Sweden)

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The  winner of the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, worth around 500 000  Euros  (financed by the Swedish  government),  was announced March 31st, and winner was PRAESA, Project for the  Study of Alternative Education in  South Africa. It was founded in 1992, and is an organisation  to promote reading  among  South African children. Among  their  ambitions is  to develop bi/multilingual skills since South  Africa has 11 official  languages.

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This award is probably the biggest (in terms of money) for children’s literature in the world. More info here: http://www.alma.se/en/

Link to: More about Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren (1904-2002) was  among the world’s most loved  children’s  author with creations like  Pippi Longstocking  and Karlsson on the Roof and novels like Ronja the  Robber’s  daughter. A  lot of her  work has  been adapted for film, TV and the stage  and she has been translated to (at present) 96 languages.

See the Astrid Lindgren FAQ here: http://www.astridlindgren.com/en/faq#faq-953

This year 197 nominations from 61 countries were received for the jury to  go through. I notice that eg Neil  Gaiman, Ursula  Le Guin, Susan Cooper, Tor Åge  Bringsvaerd (Norway) and Irmelin Sandman Lilius (Finland)  were among nominees – from Sweden we had eg  Lennart Hellsing and Ilon  Wikland. Personally think it is a bit sad  that the  ALMA,  as  the  award is known as, too often goes to organisations rather than persons. Organisations feel a bit “unpersonal”. You can’t read  books  by an organisation…

I went  to  the announcement of this year’s award, held in the Royal Library in Stockholm. The auditorium was packed to the limit, and I  had to stand near a  wall somewhere in the back. The Swedish minister of culture – Alice Bah Kuhnke – held a speech and I counted to about four TV crews there.

The award ceremonies will take place later this year, and  it is usually with the Swedish royal family present.

© Ahrvid Engholm

Based in Cape Town, PRAESA, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, is an organisation that has worked to promote reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992. The Jury’s Citation reads:

With the joy of reading as its compass point, PRAESA opens new routes into the world of books and literature for young readers in South Africa. Through innovative reading and storytelling projects, PRAESA brings people together and brings literature in multiple languages alive. PRAESA´s outstanding work shows the crucial role of books and stories in creating rich lives for children and young people.

For more than twenty years, PRAESA has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture. Its work focuses on encouraging children to read for enjoyment, building their self-esteem, and helping them connect to their native language through reading and story.

PRAESA has three core goals: to provide children with high-quality literature in the various South African languages; to collaborate with and foster new networks among publishers and organisations that promote reading; and to initiate and carry out activities that can help sustain a living culture of reading and storytelling in socially vulnerable communities. PRAESA works in constant dialogue with the latest research and in collaboration with volunteers at the grass roots level.

To encourage children to read in their native languages, PRAESA produced the Little Hands books, a series of short books in different African languages. Another project, the Vulindlela Reading Club, combined oral storytelling with reading, singing games, and dramatizations, and led to the formation of many more reading clubs in Cape Town and other provinces. The national reading promotion initiative Nal’ibali is a network of reading clubs that uses media campaigns to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents, and teachers to read with them.

In 2014, PRAESA received the Asahi Reading Promotion Award, a prize instituted by the International Board on Books for Young People, IBBY.

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