Massive Swedish presence in BolognaSweden is Guest of Honour at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair, presenting a major exhibition with picturebook illustrators. Flying objects inspired by children will catch the eye of visitors and draw them in to the exhibition. The overall theme is Children’s Right to Culture. The book fair is to be opened by Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden’s minister for culture. Some 50 Swedish writers and illustrators will be present.
“The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the world’s largest event for children’s and young adult literature. What makes it unique is the focus on illustration and visual art,” says Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth.
“When we read to young children, we arouse their imagination, longing and curiosity regarding images and language. That’s why it’s so important to read to children regularly, and to continue reading to them even when they are older and have learned to read themselves. And by talking to children about the stories we have read, we help them acquire better reading comprehension skills and enrich their vocabulary,” the culture minister continues.
The 300-square-metre exhibition presents work of 31 illustrators chosen by an expert jury. The selection has been made from a child’s perspective. The featured illustrators include several long-established names, such as Pernilla Stalfelt, Anna-Clara Tidholm, Gunna Grähs and Jockum Nordström, as well as many artists of the younger generation born in the 1980s.
The exhibition has been produced by Martin Jämtlid, artistic director, and Mats Hedman, graphic designer and project manager. The flying objects were created in a workshop with a group of children at a Stockholm preschool. A comprehensive exhibition catalogue has been published, containing information on the featured illustrators and a short history of illustration as an art form in Sweden.
At the book fair, a program of seminars and presentations will be arranged, featuring authors such as Ulf Stark, Åsa Lind, Jenny Jägerfeld and Ingrid Olsson. Johan Unenge, Sweden’s reading ambassador, will take part in a discussion with his Irish and Australian colleagues about how to encourage young people to read more books.
In the city of Bologna, a wide range of activities for children and adults will focus on literature and illustration but also on other art forms such as cinema, science and food. At the Salaborsa children’s library, a reading promotion day will include presentations and activities for children, teachers, librarians and the general public. Guus Kuijer, 2012 recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, will take part in conversation with Elina Druker, a member of the award jury. The local arts association Hamelin, will present a second exhibition of Swedish illustration, co-produced with the Swedish Institute, at the Bologna Museum of Archaeology.
The Swedish Arts Council is in charge of the exhibition project, working in partnership with Swedish children’s book publishers, the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Film Institute, Tillväxtverket (the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth), Business Sweden and the Swedish embassy in Rome.
“It will be exciting to see Swedish children’s and young adult literature presented in a wider context,” says Kennet Johansson, director general of the Swedish Arts Council. “In the past, our main activity at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been the announcement of the recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. I’m looking forward to seeing Swedish literature displayed in an international perspective.”
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