International Children’s Book Day has been celebrated annually, on or around 2nd April, since 1967. 2nd April was chosen because it is Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday, one of the best loved children’s authors whose books are still popular today. International Children’s Book Day was founded by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), a non-profit organisation which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.
Their aim is to promote international understanding through children’s books and to give children everywhere access to children’s books with a high artistic and literary standard. Part of that is encouraging the publication and distribution of quality children’s books around the world, especially in developing countries, and to provide support and training to those involved with children’s literature.
Each year, a different member nation hosts International Children’s Book Day. In 2014 the host is Ireland and their chosen theme is Imagine Nations Through Story. Teachers, educators and parents can find a web-based Resource Guide here with plans for programs and lessons to celebrate the day on 2nd April. You’re invited to submit your ideas for inspiring a love of reading and cultural understanding and awareness too.
Children in Crisis Programme
Another vital part of IBBY’s work is reaching children in areas of crisis. The Children in Crisis Programme was set up to provide support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disaster, with the goal of giving every child the Right to be a Reader. Part of the programme includes the therapeutic use of books and storytelling to help children process trauma. Another aspect is the replacement of collections of books that are appropriate to the situation. As books have the power to literally transform lives and offer solace, comfort, insight and joy, this seems like an incredibly powerful project to reach children who might otherwise miss out on the wonder of books. IBBY has worked in places such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Chile, Lebanon, Colombia and Gaza bringing books to children in crisis. To find out more about the programme and to donate, visit their website here.