IBBY UK Chair’s Report April 2017 – end March 2018

by | Dec 2, 2018 | Annual Reports

This has been my fourth year as Chair of IBBY UK, a year in which our activities have diversified and gained prominence. Our good relationships within the children’s book world and within the international IBBY network allow us to bring ideas and real contacts to the diversity discussion within the UK. IBBY’s special quality, an organisation which represents all aspects of the children’s book world, including academics, publishers, librarians and writers and illustrators, means that our contribution to this discussion can be from a variety of perspectives. Our aim is to represent the UK children’s books world internationally and the international world of children’s books within the UK. This feels particularly important as the debate about the UK’s future in Europe continues to dominate political life.
We would not be able to do this without the help of publishers, who supply us with review copies and with multiple copies of books for inclusion in IBBY lists; of CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) and Islington Libraries for the use of their rooms for meetings; and of Waterstones who have welcomed us and generously hosted a number of events this year.

Our UK Committee members are all volunteers who work collaboratively and each committee member takes the lead on specific areas. Subgroups meet to work on ideas and activities and this has been a successful model.

We see a slow increase in membership partly through our additional activities. Nevertheless, it is still a challenge to balance our income, which is mainly from membership fees, Christmas card sales and the conference, against the costs of our subscription to IBBY and the costs associated with nominations and awards. This is an international problem affecting many member countries.

More detailed information about everything mentioned in this report is available on our IBBY UK website or on the IBBY website.

1. Promoting the work of IBBY and international links

Resources lists

IBBY produces a number of resources lists based on nominations from its 80 plus member countries. These are, therefore, key guides to children’s publishing around the world and are available on the IBBY website. Most notable of these are the Honour List and the Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List, both biennial.

Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List

A small group of committee members made a selection of 11 books for the 2019 list and were impressed by the quality and range of the books submitted. These have been submitted to the selection committee based in Toronto. The UK selection is kept as a touring collection and is listed on our website.

IBBY Honour List

Our UK nominees in the current 2018 list are:

Writing: Sita Brahmachari Tender Earth. Macmillan Children’s Books, 2017

Illustration: Viviane Schwarz I Am Henry Finch (written by Alexis Deacon). Walker Books, 2016 (Paperback) 2015 (Hardback)

Translation:  Charlotte Barslund Wildwitch Wildfire, translated from Danish (written by Lene Kaaberbol). Pushkin Children’s Books, 2016

There will be an event to celebrate these nominations in Waterstones, Piccadilly on 27 September 2018.

100 books for children and young people in Arabic

This list, originally compiled by IBBY France, was translated into English as a joint venture by IBBY UK and IBBY Ireland and is available on our website. We are very grateful to the translators who worked on this on a voluntary basis.

Travelling exhibitions

As part of our aim to promote IBBY’s work, we have developed a programme for these various book collections to tour in the UK. During 2017-8 a number of new partner institutions took part. The IBBY Honour List 2016 collection, featuring books nominated by more than 50 countries, concluded the tour begun earlier in 2017, visiting the Story Museum Oxford, Plymouth Library Services for Schools and Portsmouth School of Art and Design.

The IBBY Silent Book collection (2013) comprises over 100 wordless picture books from around the world that can be enjoyed by children (and adults) regardless of language. It was put together at the instigation of IBBY Italy as a response to the needs of refugee children arriving on the island of Lampedusa. The collection toured to Seven Stories, Newcastle, University College London Institute of Education, Homerton College Library, Cambridge, Brighton University School of Education Curriculum Centre, Scottish Book Trust and Glasgow University.

In 2018-9 we are planning tours of the IBBY Honour List Collection for 2018 and the IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities 2017.

IBBY Executive

Our committee member, Ferelith, served for her second term on the IBBY Executive and has made many useful links between the UK and the rest of the world. Sophie has volunteered to stand in the next election, which will be held during the Athens Congress.

IBBY Congress 2018, Athens

The next IBBY Congress will be held in Athens from 30 August to 1 September 2018 and the theme is East meets West around Children’s Books and Fairy Tales (as originally planned by Turkish IBBY). We have funded two bursaries for attendance at the Congress and the recipients will be required to write a blog about their experiences. The bursaries have been awarded to a Scottish librarian, Susan Appleby and to a teacher currently working at the National Literacy Trust, Alice Penfold. There will be a strong UK contingent at the Congress.

The proceedings of the 2016 in New Zealand are to be published as a book by Trentham Press, Understanding Ourselves and Others through Children’s Literature in a Multiliterate World, in time for the 2018 Congress. I have worked on this in an editorial capacity.

Bologna 2018 and plans for biennial IBBY Europe conference

As usual a number of IBBY UK members were in Bologna this year, which is a great opportunity for networking with both UK colleagues and others from round the world, as well as being a wonderful chance to see book productions from a huge range of countries. IBBY Europe made the decision, following the success of last year’s conference, to organise a biennial conference on the Thursday of the Fair. This is currently in negotiation for 2019, but the planned theme is Language. 

London Book Fair

Baltic focus

Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia made extensive plans for their market focus at the London Book Fair and a number of us visited as part of various delegations. The result was that we knew their children’s book market and were able to work well with them to promote it. We held a very well attended seminar at the LBF to celebrate the eight books that have been published in the UK in the last 12 months, which resulted in a very thoughtfully presented event about the challenges of culture and translation. This was organised through the British Council programme.

Mind the gap: celebrating authentic inclusion seminar in partnership with Inclusive Minds

This joint seminar received a great deal of media coverage and was one of the recommended events in the LBF seminar programme. It was so exciting to have a panel of published authors talking alongside the IM ambassadors and hear the voice of young people.

2. Awards

Nominating UK authors and writers for the various international awards is one of the major aspects of our work and we try to involve members as much as possible in the nomination process. In the last year we have been involved with: 

UK Children’s Laureate

And we look forward to working with Lauren Child

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Our nominations for the 2017 Award were Chris Riddell and Book Aid International. Sadly these were not successful, but as they are both very strong candidates we have decided to re-submit them for the 2018 award.

Hans Christian Andersen Awards

Our nominations for the 2018 award were Melvin Burgess (author) and Jane Ray (illustrator). The submission portfolios are available on our website and many thanks to all who helped prepare these excellent documents. The full details of the winners and commended nominees are on the websites.

IBBY Asahi Award

This is a biennial award given to one or two groups who are seen to be making an outstanding contribution to reading promotion in their country. The UK nomination for 2018 was Beanstalk, a UK based organisation, which trains volunteers to help with reading in schools.

Bratislava Illustration Biennale

IBBY UK is the joint nominating bodies for BIB in collaboration with the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society at Worcester University. This year we nominated the maximum number of illustrators from the UK and each has given permission for us to use their illustrations on our website. We collaborated with ICPBS on their Migrations exhibition by advertising the call for illustrators to our networks around the world. This exhibition of 200 postcards on the theme of refugees was held in Bibiana, the International House of Art for Children, in Bratislava during the Biennale and is now touring the world. Otter Barry Books plan to publish the collection in book form.

3. Events Programme and Conference

Our AGM was held Waterstones in May and was followed by a panel discussion of the new SLA Riveting Reads publication, A world of books in translation, chaired by Daniel Hahn. It was very interesting to have Helen Wang on the panel, as her work as a translator from the Chinese has also recently been celebrated by IBBY in Shanghai.

The annual IBBY / NCRCL conference was this year held at CLPE on the theme Happily Ever After: the evolution of fairy tales across time and culture. Keynote presentations by a variety of academics, publishers and writers explored the reasons why the same tales appear across different cultures, the way the tales have evolved and the updating, or subversion, of tales for a modern audience. It was very well attended and participants enjoyed the opportunity to meet the authors present. Newham Bookshop provided an excellent collection of books for sale.

Hans Christian Andersen events

As nomination for this award is in itself such a significant achievement, we have celebrated our UK nominations with three events over the year:  with Jane Ray at the Illustration Cupboard: with Melvin Burgess in conversation with Lucy Christopher and Juno Dawson at Waterstones, Piccadilly and with Melvin interviewed by Hannah Kate at the Portico Library in Manchester. Each event gave real insights into their work.

As part of the process of building our networks and profile in the UK we attend meetings and events to promote and represent the work of IBBY.

4. Website, newsletter and IBBYLink

Work on the website and social media has continued during the year as this is one of our main ways of keeping members up to date. We have a small team of committee members working on the website and would really value any offers of help with this as updating the site and developing it in the way we want is taking some time. Clive has been working on a new feature for the site, interviews with new(ish) publishers who are working on books relevant to our aims.

Both the website and the journal will include book reviews and we are always looking to add to our team of reviewers. There will be more scope when this area of the website is developed.

Our journal IBBYLink is produced three times a year and placed on the IBBY UK website. The cover is public but the journal is in the Members Area so can be read only by members. Members are sent a password for access to each issue.

  • IBBYLink 49 Summer 2017 ‘Writing the Past: Why Historical Fiction?’ looks at the reasons for reading this genre and particular examples of it.
  • IBBYLink 50 Autumn 2017 ‘The Baltic States’ explores the state of children’s literature in each of the three states now and in history.
  • IBBYLink 51 Spring 2018 ‘Fairy Tales’ reflects the conference theme and explores the ways fairy tales can be used with children and adults as well as looking at illustration, publication and related issues.

5. IBBY Christmas Card

Our 2016 card was an illustration by our committee member Carol Thompson and was very popular. Ken and Ros have plans to develop a bigger range of cards.

6. IBBY UK committee and changes

This year’s committee members were Susan Bailes (Vice Chair), Clive Barnes, Rosamund Bird, Rebecca Butler, Suzanne Curley, Pam Dix (Chair), Sophie Hallam, Jennifer Harding, Ferelith Hordon(IBBYlink editor), Lina Iordanaki, Ann Lazim, Sue Mansfield (Treasurer and Membership), Nikki Marsh (Events Organiser), Liza Miller (Secretary), Judith Philo (Book review editor), Carol Thompson, Ken Wilson Max. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of them for the work that they have done.

Pam Dix, May 2018