The 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize was given to PRAESA (Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) at a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Sweden on June 1. Alice Bah Kuhnke, the Swedish minister for culture and democracy, presented the award, which was announced on March 31 at the Bologna Book Fair.
PRAESA works to develop children as lifelong readers through its innovative multilingual and intergenerational reading and storytelling program. Neville Alexander, anti-apartheid activist and academic, founded PRAESA in 1992. Now reaching families through reading clubs and a publishing program of specially commissioned titles in South Africa’s 11 official languages, PRAESA is working to achieve Alexander’s ambition “to use other African languages in powerful ways.”
Carole Bloch, director of PRAESA, told PW: “Receiving this award allows hope and more opportunities for South African society, business, and government to put their support behind children’s literacy.” She also said: “We believe that the stories we tell, write and read can change lives. Sharing stories inspire us all to struggle against becoming overwhelmed by the challenges we meet each day in our fractured and profoundly unequal society.”
Host for the evening was Ingemar Fasth, head of literature and libraries at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern. The festivities included performances from musician Kristina Amparo and Swedish rap artist Petter. The program also included a street dance performance inspired by the South African Kwaito music style.
Since 2002, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award has awarded five million SEK annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers, and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. The organization’s work is founded on the UN convention of rights, and an expert jury selects candidates that are nominated internationally.