By Ogova Ondego
Published April 1, 2015
A South African organisation has won the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for opening new routes into the world of books and literature for young readers through innovative reading and storytelling projects.
PRAESA (Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), that is based in Cape Town, is set to receive the prize, worth Five Million Swedish Kroners (SEK5 million), in the Swedish capital, Sockholm, on June 1, 2015.
Administrated by the Swedish Arts Council, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is promoted as the world’s largest award for literature for children and youth. The award, that was founded in 2002 by the Government of Sweden, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is founded on the United Nation’s convention of Rights of the child. A jury of experts selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world.
This is the second international prize PRAESA, that has since 1992 been promoting reading and literature for children and youth, is receiving two years in a row. PRAESA won the Asahi Reading Promotion Award, a prize instituted by the International Board on Books for Young People, IBBY, in 2014.
Praising “PRAESA’s outstanding work” for showing “the world the crucial role of books and stories in creating rich, full lives for our children and young people,” the jury noted the organisation’s “three core goals: to provide children with high-quality literature in the various South African languages; to collaborate with and foster new networks among publishers and organisations that promote reading; and to initiate and carry out activities that can help sustain a living culture of reading and storytelling in socially vulnerable communities. PRAESA works in constant dialogue with the latest research and in collaboration with volunteers at the grass roots level.”
“PRAESA,” the jury said, “has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture. Its work focuses on encouraging children to read for enjoyment, building their self-esteem, and helping them connect to their native language through reading and storytelling.”