2023 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner Laurie Halse Anderson has pledged $100,000 of her prize money to PEN America in support of the organization’s efforts to combat censorship. Anderson is frequently the target of book banning—in particular for her depiction of a rape survivor's experience in her first YA novel, Speak (FSG, 1999)—and is a vocal advocate for the freedom to read.
“Public libraries and schools have a duty to offer a broad range of books to the communities that they serve,” Anderson said in a statement. “People who find a book that they don’t like don’t have to read it. They do not have the right to dictate what books other people, or other people’s children, can read. I am proud to support PEN America and their fight against book banners and others bent on destroying our freedom to read. Remember: censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.”
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is the world’s largest children’s book prize, with the laureate receiving five million Swedish krona (more than $452,000 at present exchange rates). In its award citation in March, the ALMA jury said, “With tender intensity, Laurie Halse Anderson evokes moods and emotions and never shies from even the hardest things.”