In April, children’s literature is being celebrated by honoring authors Hans Christian Andersen and Monteiro Lobato. In different times and locations, these authors left a cultural heritage that has withstood time and crossed generations, opening the doors of the world of reading to thousands of children.
In addition to celebrating the importance of these writers, these two dates also promote initiatives encouraging kids and teens to read.
International Children’s Book Day: April 2
Created in 1967 by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), “International Children’s Book Day” pays homage to the birth of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. He became famous for his adaptations of internationally-recognized fables and stories like “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Snow Queen,” which inspired the Disney film “Frozen.”
Every year, a national section of the IBBY is chosen to represent the date with a local author writing a message to kids to encourage them to read and a local illustrator creating a poster to publicize the celebration and promote reading among kids around the world.
In 2017, “International Children’s Book Day” is celebrating its 50th anniversary, with Russia serving as the representative and author Sergey Makhotin as spokesperson. In his message, he recalls his childhood, the joy of holding a book in one hand and of smelling the new book smell when flipping through the pages.
National Children’s Book Day: April 18
Created in 2002, based on Law no. 10.402, “National Children’s Book Day” celebrates the birth of Monteiro Lobato, the father of Narizinho, Pedrinho and the whole gang from the Sítio do Picapau Amarelo. Although he also wrote books for adults, he is usually best remembered for his works of children’s literature, where he preserves elements of caipira culture and characters from Brazilian folklore.
Lobato is also considered a pioneer in the area of paradidactic books, used to supplement learning by playfully joining concepts from different knowledge areas with literary narratives. Titles such as “Aritmética da Emília” (Emília’s Arithmetic), “Emília no país da Gramática” (Emília in the Land of Grammar) and Serões de Dona Benta (Ms. Benta’s Evening Chats) are just a few examples of his legacy in childhood education.
In addition to writing, Lobato translated and adapted various works for the Portuguese language, such as “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll and a compilation of short stories by Hans Christian Andersen, among others. His famous phrase “A country is made with men and books” shows his concern with educational and national culture.
IIP and encouraging reading
Contributing to the social and environmental education of kids and young people is one of the missions of the International Paper Institute. Encouraging reading is one of the cornerstones of IIP, through its Travelling Book City project, which has already visited over 50,000 kids in nine cities in Brazil over the last seven years. The project fosters reading among Primary School students by joining theater and storytelling.