2014 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award Presentation, Friday 12 September, Mexico City, Mexico
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my great pleasure to welcome you today on the occasion of the presentation of the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award.
First of all, I wish to congratulate the winners of the 2014 Awards—The Children’s Book Bank from Canada and PRAESA from South Africa. I congratulate every one of you who have taken part in the activities for your outstanding efforts and offer my heartfelt gratitude to the panel of prestigious judges and those associated with IBBY for their dedication and commitment in making the final selections for the awards.
The Children’s Book Bank was founded in Toronto, Canada, in 2007 with the mission of supporting the development of book-reading activities and a love of reading. It is distributing recycled children’s books free of charge to children living in high-needs neighborhoods. On each visit to the Book Bank, children are permitted to choose and take home to keep one book. We selected the Children’s Book Bank as one of this year’s winners because it is a very simple system of book recycling, which effectively uses the skills of retired librarians and teachers. This idea has the possibility to be expanded and replicated in many places.
PRAESA of South Africa is an independent unit for research and development, attached to the faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town. It was established in 1992 having emerged from the struggle against apartheid education. PRAESA’s activities are in agreement with the basic philosophy of IBBY in that they value the child’s mother tongue. PRAESA is also studying how to incorporate new media, such as tablets, into early childhood bilingual education. This unique research and development program also attracted interest.
These two projects are playing creative and effective roles to help children enter the world of books and reading.
The IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award was initiated in 1988 under the sponsorship of The Asahi Shimbun newspaper company. The Asahi Shimbun was inspired by the IBBY World Congress that was held in Japan in 1986, and was drawn to the IBBY activities. The award is given to groups and research institutions around the world for their work in distributing books and reading promotion activities among children and young people. Including this year’s two winners, The Asahi Shimbun has presented the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award to 27 programs around the world so far. We take great pride in the fact that we have been able to pay tribute to such a worthy cause, continuously, for over 20 years.
If I may add a few words about The Asahi Shimbun, we are a Japanese newspaper company that was founded in 1879. The morning edition has a current circulation of about 7.6 million. We are considered one of the most trusted organs of public speech in Japan, and we constantly strive to deliver accurate and responsible news reporting. In addition to news coverage, The Asahi Shimbun devotes much energy to contributing and supporting culture and the society at large. The IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award being presented today is a good example of such efforts.
Lastly, I would like to express our heartfelt admiration and congratulate IBBY and its supporters for their continued dedication in promoting books and bringing the joy of reading to children throughout the world. It is our sincere hope that IBBY will continue with its good work, and we look forward to seeing the activities bear ample fruit in the years to come. The Asahi Shimbun is committed to providing our support to the best of our ability towards promoting books among young readers. Thank you very much.
Asahi Shimbun Correspondent for South America