Indigenous Literacy Foundation wins international children’s literature award - Education Matters Magazine
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Indigenous Literacy Foundation wins international children’s literature award

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation, a national charity working with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia, has won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2024 – the largest prize for children’s literature.

The global award is given annually to a person or organisation for their outstanding contribution to children’s and young adult literature. With a prize of five million Swedish kronor (AUD $725,000) it is the largest award of its kind in the world.

The announcement was made in a live program from Stockholm and at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on 9 April. The winner was announced from 245 candidates from 68 countries and regions.

Previous Australian winners of the prize include Author Sonya Hartnett (2008) and writer and artist Shaun Tan (2011).

“The importance of all people’s own languages and stories is the foundation for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s shining work among First Nations peoples in Australia,” Ms Boel Westin, chair of the jury for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, said.

“Their innovative activities, which build on respect, collaboration and sensitivity, are an inspiration for reading promotion work around the world.”

Indigenous Literacy Foundation CEO Mr Ben Bowen said the foundation is deeply honoured to receive the award.

“The achievement of being shortlisted let alone being the winner of such a globally prestigious award speaks directly to the nature of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation being a community-led organisation entrusted to support remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community literacy aspirations,” he said.

“Throughout the lifetime of the foundation, we have had the privilege of being invited into community and entrusted to support their aspirations through providing culturally relevant books and literacy resources and publishing their stories in the language they choose.”

Mr Bowen continued: “This is not possible without the support of our donors, supporters, volunteers, ambassadors and community partners that enable an organisation of around 30 staff to support literacy in over 400 remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“This award is a direct acknowledgement to communities we partner with, corporate partners and supporters, donors, ambassadors, our board and volunteers that have all played a critical role in building the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Thank you and congratulations,” he said.

Indigenous Literacy Foundation Head of Publishing Ms Nicola Robinson said the award could not have come about without the extraordinary work of many of Australia’s remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who trust the foundation with the stories they choose to tell, told in multiple languages and illustrated in community.

“It would also never have come about without the generosity of the many, many thousands of Australians who have contributed to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation over the years. I am thinking of the many ‘ordinary’ people who make small monthly donations or organise fundraising events in their community groups or workplaces,” she said.

“I am thinking of the many, many people within my own industry – the book industry – who collect over the counter donations in bookshops, hold book swaps or bake sales, attend our trivia nights, collaborate on our projects, and assist in so many other ways. This award reflects the work of a great many people, who should all feel proud today.”

The funds will be used to support the ongoing ambition of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to support community literacy aspiration through publishing and providing culturally relevant books and resources.

More information

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is an international children’s literature award, established by the Swedish government in 2002 in honour of the Swedish children’s books writer Astrid Lindgren (the creator of Pippi Longstocking). The Award may be awarded to writers, illustrators, narrators, and/or promoters of reading whose work reflects the spirit of Astrid Lindgren. The object of the award is to increase interest in children’s and young people’s literature, and to promote children’s rights to culture on a global level. The award is administered by the Swedish Arts Council.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is an Australian national charity working with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. They are community-led, responding to requests from remote communities for culturally relevant books, including early learning board books, resources, and programs to support communities to create and publish their stories in languages of their choice.

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