Long-term Partnership for the Iranian Children

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Mingzhou Zhang  | It was a great honor for me to have had a chance to visit National Library and Archives of Iran and to meet you. Thank you so much for sparing your precious time to receive me at the National Library, it was such a wonderful experience. During my visit, I had the honor of being shown some of the antique books, which was a genuine eye opener for me. I was especially interested in the early Iranian edition of H.C. Andersen Fairy Tales. This connection to IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People, is very meaningful. Since 1956, IBBY has presented the Hans Christian Andersen Award to authors and illustrators whose complete works have made an important and lasting contribution to children’s literature. The Andersen Award is the most prestigious international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. With Iran’s long history of superb art and stories, it is not surprising that the Award was given to the Iranian artist Fashid Mesghali in 1974, and author Far The IBBY National Section of Iran has also, over the years, nominated highly qualified children’s literature scholars to serve on the Andersen Jury, including Ms Sahar Tarhandeh and Ms Shohreh Yousefi in recent years.

Hundreds of books that have been submitted to the jury members for their assessment of the Author Award candidates, have been donated by the Children’s Book Council of Iran (CBCI) to the NLAI for the creation of the International Children’s Literature Section. Ms Zohreh Ghaeni has also served on the Jury, in 2002 and 2004, and she was later elected Jury President for the 2008 and 2010 Awards. Currently Ms Ghaeni is a member of the IBBY Executive Committee.

based at the CBCI, was established in 1964, just as IBBY was expanding around the world. The excellent work of IBBY Iran has always been highly respected and is one of the most effective sections of IBBY regarding reading promotion. The Secretary General of CBCI, Ms Noushin Ansari was bestowed with Honorary Membership of IBBY in 2010 for her long term commitment to the ideals and work of IBBY. Ms Ansari was a member of the IBBY Executive Committee from 1986 to 1990, and was a member of the IBBY Developing Countries Committee for the latter half of her term of office. A major achievement of CBCI is the publication of the Encyclopedia for Children and Young compiled for children and young people.

The project started in 1979 and the first volume was published in 1992. It is projected that EYP will be completed in 25 volumes. More than 250 scholars and researchers in 31 specialized groups contribute to this monumental work on a voluntary basis. An important feature of the Encyclopedia is its focus on the geography, history and culture of Iran. Major support for IBBY Iran was given in 2016 by the Sharjah/IBBY Fund for Children in Crisis to respond to the needs of children in the deprived eastern region of Iran. The Bamdad Library Project used these funds to establish libraries in three villages. Nearly 550 students at primary and middle school, have benefitted from the support, at the same time 44 teachers were trained at 40 workshops.

Today the situation across the world is becoming more and more difficult as the culture of populism is growing and empathy is diminishing. This is especially had Hassanzadeh was a finalist in 2018.

 The IBBY National Section of Iran, People. This is a unique reference book true for children as they are caught up in conflicts and hurt by policies that forget or even ignore them. I often think of the time when Ms Jella Lepman founded IBBY in Switzerland after World War II, which was also a time of turmoil. IBBY was founded on the belief that children’s books are an important tool for promoting international understanding and peace. IBBY continues to believe that children everywhere should have access to books with high literary and artistic standards and thus become enthusiastic and informed readers.

To act on the belief that all children have a right to read, IBBY is very active in reading promotion. There are two major awards: established in 1984, the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award is presented to institutions or associations whose outstanding activities are judged to be making a lasting contribution to reading promotion programs for children and young people; and the newly established IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award that recognizes outstanding individuals who are working to promote the expansion and development of children’s reading. The annual IBBY-Yamada grants help develop a book cultures for children in all regions of the world. The IBBY Children in Crisis Fund provides support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disaster. IBBY also supports reading promotion by recommending international selections of books. These include the IBBY Honor List, the IBBY Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, the IBBY Silent Books Selection, and many others in the national context. More recently IBBY has been collaborat-

 

ing with the United Nations on its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by world leaders in 2015. Encompassing everything from health to gender equality and education, the Goals will mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. IBBY has joined efforts with its partner, the International Publishers Association (IPA), to launch the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club. For the next 17 months the Book Club will present a monthly selection of books for children from 5 to 12 years focusing one of the 17 SDGs. This is just a brief glimpse of IBBY’s work, much more information about IBBY’s international activities, as well as the activities of its 79 National Sections, can be found at www.ibby.org. In 2018 IBBY members celebrated children’s reading and literature at the 36th IBBY World Congress in Athens, Greece, under the theme East Meets West around Children’s Books and Fairy Tales. This theme was echoed throughout the congress with speakers from the East and the West, as well as from the North and the South. A keynote speaker was the Iranian scholar Ms Roya (Leila) Maktabi Fard who spoke about the parallel work of Ms Lepman and the founder of the Children’s Book Council Ms Touran Mirhadi – two ‘Grand Dames’ of reading promotion. IBBY is growing and with this growth comes more influence and a louder voice to champion children’s literature, including promoting the continuing importance of quality books for children and the pursuit of reading promotion. Both are basic tenets of a good library system, which in Iran is the ideal pursued by your impressive library.

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