Photo: IBBY Honour List recipients at the Athens Congress, including Máire Zepf, author of the picture book Ná Gabh ar Scoil! Also Honour-listed was Kevin Stevens for his young adult novel A Lonely Note.
It’s been a busy and fruitful year for IBBY Ireland with a new collection, a touring exhibition, award nominations and the establishment of the IBBY Ireland Annual Lecture.
Granted! We were delighted and grateful to receive Arts Council funding this year. One of the benefits has been our purchase of a set of Silent Books, the wordless international picture books that first came together on the island of Lampedusa for use by refugees and locals. The fifty books in IBBY Ireland’s set are part of the most recent 2017 collection and include Owl Bat Bat Owl by Irish illustrator and author Marie Louise Fitzpatrick. The set will be available for hire in the new year by anyone wanting to explore these stories beyond words. In 2018 such groups have included Syrian refugees who used the books to learn English; librarians; primary and secondary school teachers; school-home liaison workers, and people with disabilities.
Special Collection: this set of outstanding books for and about young people with disabilities toured Irish libraries in the spring. IBBY Ireland’s Tatyana Feeney and Debbie Thomas explored the books in workshops with primary school pupils, touching, signing, sniffing and discovering new ways of experiencing the world.
Nominations: IBBY Ireland has selected two nominees for the 2020 biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international distinction for authors and illustrators of children's books. Who are they? Announcement in the new year!
East meets West around Children’s Books: at the biennial IBBY International Congress in Athens in September, IBBY Ireland President Jane O’Hanlon presented a poster on the benefits of the Irish Writers’ in Schools scheme, and Belfast-based storyteller Pat Ryan explored the many ‘Jack’ stories in Canadian folklore.
Reading rights and refugees: The IBBY Ireland Annual Lecture.
IBBY Ireland’s first annual lecture in February welcomed Wally de Doncker in one of the last engagements of his four-year presidency of IBBY International. The acclaimed Belgian author spoke of literacy as a human right and his vision that every child should have access to good books. For the 2019 Annual Lecture we are delighted to welcome Deborah Soria, the inspiration behind the Silent Books project on Lampedusa. All are invited to her talk on 1st Feb, 7pm at St Patrick’s College, DCU Drumcondra. More details to follow on the IBBY Ireland Facebook page.
Photo: Syrian children explore the Silent Books.
Following the successful Irish tour of the Silent Books in 2017, IBBY Ireland has acquired a set of the wordless picture books. Selected from six continents and updated over the last year, the collection now includes the wonderful Owl Bat Bat Owl by Irish illustrator and author Marie Louise Fitzpatrick.
The fifty books tell stories that transcend language and strengthen intercultural understanding, a cornerstone of IBBY’s vision in its seventy-six member countries. Whimsical, profound and gorgeous to look at, the picture books are superb springboards for creativity among diverse groups: from immigrants to artists and from toddlers to youth groups; from children in mainstream education to adults with special learning needs.
Refugees have used the books in family workshops. In an empowering role reversal, Syrian primary pupils in County Clare told the stories depicted in the Silent Books to an audience of their parents in order to practise their oral skills and to teach English to the mothers and fathers who don’t have the benefit of school immersion in the new language. Primary school pupils have also used the books to explore different cultures, create their own stories and invent new worlds from the books.
For anyone interested in using the Silent Books, these superb creative and educational tools will be available from IBBY Ireland in the new year. More details to follow.