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Le générique du Bulletin
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January/February 2003
Vol. 35, no. 1
ISSN 1492-4676

Previous Article Contents

Read Up On It at the IBBY Conference

Josiane Polidori, Research and Information Services

The recent IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Jubilee Conference took place this past September in Basel, Switzerland, the city that is home to the organization’s secretariat. The theme of the 50th anniversary conference was "Children and Books: A Worldwide Challenge."

The guests of honour at the 28th conference were Her Majesty Empress Michiko, from Japan, and Lady Suzanne Moubarak, First Lady of Egypt. These two personalities have been passionately involved in the world of children’s literature for years. The Empress of Japan is an author and translator, and Mrs. Moubarak is the president and founding member of IBBY-Egypt. She also is an enthusiastic activist devoted to promoting reading in her country.

The five days were very busy, with conferences, roundtables dedicated to the promotion of reading throughout the world, publishing projects in underdeveloped countries, initiatives promoting access to books and reading for children, as well as fascinating exhibitions and meetings.

The Library and Archives of Canada’s annual reading kit, Read Up On It, was presented by Josiane Polidori during a conference entitled "Read Up On It: A Link Between Linguistic Communities." The presentation highlighted the unique role of this bilingual thematic kit dedicated to Canadian children’s literature. The French and English books selected are presented along with short texts summarizing their contents. A series of activities related to the theme and a list of award-winning children’s books and their annotations are also part of the online version of the kit. As well as describing and distributing Read Up On It, the presentation illustrated the important role that Read Up On It plays in the mutual understanding of children’s books in French and in English. The issue of embracing a representation of artists from all regions and from diverse cultural communities was also touched upon.

After the talk, a number of delegates from multilingual countries inquired about the content and distribution of the Library and Archives of Canada’s initiative. Copies of Read Up On It have been distributed to participants from several countries, in particular Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa and even Spain, where there are minority languages (Basque and Catalan).

The IBBY Conference paid homage to the British writer Aidan Chambers and the British illustrator Quentin Blake, 2002 Andersen Award winners. A ceremony was held to celebrate authors, illustrators and translators of the IBBY biannual honour list. Canadian artists honoured include illustrator Ludmila Zeman, and writers Michèle Marineau and François Gravel. The latter two attended the honour diploma award ceremony and took part in conferences and the opening of the "Schau Genau! Look! Regarde bien!" exhibition at the Basel University Library.

The very dynamic Canadian delegation was made up of several IBBY-Canada Executive Committee members: Hadley Dyer, President, Josiane Polidori, Vice-President, Patsy Aldana, IBBY Executive Committee outgoing member, Catherine Mitchell, IBBY-Canada outgoing president, and Ron Jobe, IBBY former president. The Canadian delegation also included Theo Heras, previously on the IBBY-Canada Executive Committee, Virginia Davis, jury member of the Andersen Award, and Michèle Marineau and François Gravel, both authors on the IBBY honour list.

The IBBY Jubilee Conference provided a place for unforgettable meetings, idea exchanges and new projects to promote reading among children. Several IBBY delegates have, in fact, shown interest in participating in and attending The Fun of Reading: International Forum on Canadian Children's Literature, an event organized by the Library and Archives of Canada, June 26-29, 2003, in Ottawa.