This content was published in the period between
Alice Bah Kuhnke is no longer a government minister, Minister for Culture and Democracy
Speech at the announcement of the 2015 laureate of the ALMA-award
The National Libray of Sweden 31 mars 2015
Check against delivery.
Ladies and gentlemen, in Stockholm and in Bologna,
To read a book as a child is something different to reading a book as an adult. A child experiences a book in its own way, with a curious mind and an open heart. Children are both demanding and grateful readers. That makes high quality literature for children extraordinary important.
I remember reading the book Katitzi by the Swedish author Katarina Taikon as a child. It is a book about a girl that did the same things as I did as a child; she fought with her siblings, she did really good things and she made mistakes, just like any other child. But some parts of her life were profoundly different from mine; she lived in a caravan and her family constantly had to move, she couldn´t go to school. But what I remember most was that meeting suspicion and aversion was part of everyday-life for Katitzi and her family. Katitzi was a Swedish Roma-girl growing up in Sweden in the middle of the 20th century. Today, the experience I got from reading Katitzi still lives with me but when I read it today I understand it in a different way. I am glad that I still bear the experience of a young reader with me. Unfortunately the story of Katitzi still bear relevance today.
Young readers can be difficult to please. They are not impressed by the name of the author, they don’t care if their mother has told them that “this is a very good book”. Simply; if they don’t like the book they will stop listening or stop reading. Therefore being an author for children and young people is more difficult than writing books for adults. These authors open new worlds to our children and give them tools to understand and handle the world around them.
Being able to read gives you the opportunity to take part of the democratic society and a whole world of fantastic literature lies ahead of you. Authors of children’s books creates an appetite for life!
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award honours one of the greatest authors of literature for children. Astrid Lindgren leaves no one untouched. She was a brave author with a big heart. During her lifetime she was active in the public debate, constantly standing up for those with a weak, or no voice of their own. Astrid Lindgren was a great author but also a great defender of civil rights, democracy and every child’s right to be a child.
Now I am very proud to leave the floor to the president of the ALMA-jury Boel Westin who will present to us today’s laureate. Thank you!