Nyårsbrev från IBBY INTERNaTIONALS ordförande Mingzhou Zhang

Dear IBBY friends,

As we enter 2020, we look back at the past year to our challenges and achievements. 2019 was a busy year with IBBY Regional Conferences in Italy, Colombia, Ghana, China and the USA. New sections were established and we welcomed Cameroon, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala to the IBBY family. The founding of a new section in Vietnam was approved at the end of the year and it will start its membership in January 2020. It was also a year when we lost some inspiring IBBY leaders, the most prominent being Peter Schneck, former President (2002-06), and Juan de Isasa, former Vice President (1992-96). 

Over the year IBBY International was represented around the world at some of the major book fairs, such as Bologna, Beijing, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Guadalajara, as well as at other events and festivals, such as in St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Kyiv, Dublin and several venues in China. IBBY was also widely represented regionally and nationally by the national sections.

As we move forward into the New Year, we recall the core belief that IBBY founder Jella Lepman had in the transformative power of reading. 2020 is the 50th anniversary of her death and it will be marked by the publication of several biographies of this impressive woman. Her motivation still instils inspiration and thousands of IBBY members continue to believe in this basic tenet as they work to ensure that every child has the right to read, to become a life-long reader who can think critically, participate actively in society and resist all demagogy. 

As many of the world’s leaders jeopardize the future with policies that divide nations and encourage corruption, greed and hatred, ultimately it is the children that will suffer. The changes in our climate are now being felt in the horrific fires in many places, especially in the USA, Brazil and Australia, as well as in the droughts and floods around the world. We are working with the International Publishers Association towards building a book club to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that brings attention to the 2030 goals to mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle the climate emergency. IBBY will work to make sure that its projects around the world do not bring more damage to the environment.

Our generous sponsors are highly appreciated and without their support we would not be able to work with so many motivated people to bring books and children together. We wish to sincerely thank Nami Island Inc., the Asahi-Shimbun, the Shenzhen iRead Foundation, the Yamada Bee Farm, and all the individuals, companies and organizations that have supported IBBY and its programmes. Thank you one and all.

Without sponsors our work would be very limited. However, the activities and dedication shown by IBBY members worldwide are the backbone of IBBY. 2020 is an important year for IBBY. The winners of IBBY’s awards will be announced at the IBBY press conference at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on Monday, 30 March. We will once again arrange live streaming of the conference so all IBBY members will be able to join us via the Internet. The 37th IBBY World Congress will be held in Moscow in early September. The programme is being finalized and all members are encouraged to attend. If you have never attended an IBBY World Congress, please come to Moscow to experience “The Great Big World Through Children’s Books”.

With many thanks to you all, without you, IBBY’s work would not be possible.

Mingzhou Zhang, IBBY President 

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