This content was published in the period between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019.

Ministers on this page who have left the government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Culture and Democracy.

Ministers on this page who have left the government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Culture and Democracy.

Speech at the ALMA Award ceremony

Published

1 June 2015, Stockholm Concert Hall
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Excellencies, representatives for PRAESA, ladies and gentlemen, 

The literature heritage of Astrid Lindgren is very rich. Her stories will play a significant role for children generations ahead and I am sure that her unique way of describing and understanding childhood will inspire authors yet for a very long time. Her legacy is also her very brave and consistent work for children'srights and democracy. 

Her most famous character, Pippi Longstocking, made her first public entry exactly 70 years ago, and has since then enriched and in a ground breaking way changed the world of children's literature. Pippi's birthday was celebrated here in Stockholm a few days ago. Pippi, is the strongest girl in the world, who dares to stand up for the the children, speaking her mind whether asked or not.  A little girl with absent parents, but with  a suitcase full of golden coins that she gives to those who really need them. 

Thousands of little boys and girls came to meet the inimitable characters in the story, with freckles on their cheek and braids standing straight out from their small heads. Proud and brave children, just like Astrid Lindgren describes them.  

If there is someone who shows that she believes in the capacity of children it is Astrid Lindgren, and she shows that time after time in her books. Always putting the child in the focus of each story. That does not mean she looks upon them as small adults, no, rather the other way around; the qualities of children is missing in adult life. 

Today we celebrate the work of PRAESA which is truly conducted in the spirit of Astrid Lindgren. An organization sprung out of the anti-apartheid movement, drawing attention to the necessity of a language to gain personal and social development. Based on research, PRAESA establishes that a strong mother tongue improves the abilities to learn to read. PRAESA also encourages reading for the joy of it. 

For me as a minister of both culture and democracy it is very encouraging to see PRAESAs successful work using culture to strengthen democracy. A wide range of culture, arts and literature that reaches both adults and children is a prerequisite for democratic development and for preserving democracy. 

Our time is a time when everything we do has to have a purpose,  even intangible values such as cultural expressions and experiences. But we have to remind ourselves where it all starts: with passion and pleasure. With no passion or no pleasure, we will never give our children an appetite for reading. An appetite for literature. PRAESA is working from that outset. I truly admire PRAESAs courage for pointing this out, it could easily have been replaced by necessity and measureable reasons that would please every politician in the world. 

Dear representatives of PRAESA, I can't think of anything more meaningful than teaching and encouraging a child to read. To teach her each letter, one by one. To slowly make her read the letters together as words. To see the satisfaction in her face when words following each other in a sentence, makes sense. To encourage her to read a book and make her perceive that between every cover of a book hides a story for every child to discover and understand in its own way. Those are small miracles that we all can make happen in our everyday life. 

Your work is much bigger than that. The task you have taken on includes giving children brought up in some the most exposed areas in South Africa access to their own language and to literature. We all need literature; it broadens our minds, it enriches our fantasy, it makes our lives more interesting and it is a true pleasure. But for children brought up in a harsh environment it means something more, the literature becomes a place to escape to, many other worlds to explore. Literature can point out a new direction in life and show possibilities that can be difficult to discover on your own. 

The day is not over when it is time to go to bed. Then it is time to read a book. Another life opens up. The adventure continues, endlessly. 

Dear PRAESA, I would like to thank you, on behalf of the Swedish government, for your devoted and professional work to point out these adventures out to the children, and thereby give them joy, courage and love. 

Thank you!

Ministers on this page who have left the government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Culture and Democracy.

Ministers on this page who have left the government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Culture and Democracy.