What do Narrative Changes, Africa and IBBY have in common?

What do Narrative Changes, Africa and IBBY have in common?

Basha, Kimete

The articles in this edition of Bookbird explore the theme of “narrative changes.” It is an important discussion that complements and extends the thought-provoking presentations that took place at the symposium organized in Bratislava as part of BIB 2003 last September. Here, as there, a variety of authors, illustrators, literary critics, and students of children’s literature examine changes that are occurring in traditional approaches to narrative, and consider the subsequent change in the relationship between reader/viewer, text, author and illustrator that is derived from them.

It strikes me that, in its simplest form, this is a discussion about new ways of seeing or representing the world of children, and it implies the possibility of endless innovation. It is an invitation to consider new ways of thinking about the way children experience the story and is an encouragement to artists to create new forms.

I cannot help but draw connections between this discussion and the one that we are having in IBBY today. We too, are thinking about new ways of pursuing our mission. We too, will need to be innovative and apply new thinking to the important work we have committed our energies to.

IBBY’s network of dedicated groups and individuals come from very different cultural, political, and social contexts but share the conviction that stories can nourish and educate the child and, in so doing, prepare a safer, more peaceful world in which they can grow. They believe that they can promote international understanding through children’s books. How they do this and how IBBY can help them to do it, especially in developing countries, is where we need to think and act in new ways.

In this regard, we can be very pleased that our next IBBY Congress, the one that signals the beginning of the next 50 years of IBBY, will be held on the African continent. We should ask ourselves how we can support Jay Heale and his team of volunteers as he works to make it a successful forum for enriching exchange and collaboration. We can, of course, plan to attend the Cape Town Congress to be a part of the celebration of Books for Africa. But we can also reflect upon the organizer’s challenge to us all, wherever we are, to develop new ways of seeing the world of the child.

For many children, the world is plagued with want and fear. Nowhere is this truer than in many African nations. One of the stated aims of the Congress is to determine ways to “provide African young people with the books they urgently need.” Our task will be to provide viable responses. One response is embedded, I am sure, in providing better access to the educational, professional, and cultural expertise that we have within our IBBY network. We need to talk about these matters and the recent IBBY survey of National sections is a part of that discussion. But, we also need to act so that we cotinue to be a leading voice in the world of children’s literature.

Kimete Basha i Novosejt

Copyright Bookbird, Inc. Feb 2004

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