The International Board on Books for Young People announced the 2024 winners of three prestigious book awards on April 8, the opening day of the 61st annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

This year’s recipients of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books, are Austria’s Heinz Janisch, for writing; and Canada’s Sydney Smith, for illustration.

Bestowed every other year by IBBY, the award recognizes lifelong achievement and is given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The prize is sponsored by Nami Island Inc.

The winners were chosen from a list of 59 nominations from 33 countries and then whittled down to a shortlist by a jury led by Liz Page, former executive director of IBBY. The jurors included Evelyn Arizpe (Mexico/U.K,), Brenda Dales (U.S.), Sabine Fuchs (Austria), Diana Laura Kovach (Argentina), Shereeh Kreidieh (Lebanon), Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (Germany), Jaana Pesonen (Finland), Tan Fengxia (China), Pavle Učakar (Slovenia) and Morgane Vasta (France), with IBBY executive director Carolina Ballester serving as an ex officio jury member.

A veteran radio journalist and editor at a children’s magazine, Janisch is the author of several picture books, poetry books, and screenplays. According to the jury’s citation, “In Janisch’s eyes, ‘nothing is too small for literature.’ His preference for poems, miniatures and fractions of thoughts illuminates the extraordinary in seemingly trivial objects and features of daily life.”

Smith is the illustrator of acclaimed picture books including I Talk Like a River and My Baba’s Garden, both by Jordan Scott, and the solo books Do You Remember and Small in the City. Speaking on behalf of the jury, Page said, “For Smith, picture books do not pose a separation between child and adult—they are about human experience and emotion, part of any and every age.”

The medals will be presented at the next IBBY Congress, to be held August 30–September 1 in Trieste, Italy.

During the afternoon presentation, Junko Yokota, chair of the IBBY Reading Promotion jury, also announced the two winners of the 2024 IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award, sponsored by the Shenzhen iRead Foundation in China. Basarat Kazim of Pakistan and Irene Vasco of Colombia were recognized for their dedication to fostering global literacy. They were selected from 13 nominees.

Writer and social activist Kazim works with Pakistan’s Alif Laila Book Bus Society, a network of more than 7,000 mobile libraries that serve one million children across the country. Vasco is a children’s literature expert, lecturer, writer, and reading promoter who has been active in launching multiple public libraries in so-called “red” territories, so named because they are marked by social conflict and the presence of illegal armed groups. She is also engaged with government programming that champions Indigenous communities, remote farming villages, and former soldiers.

The IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award, sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun Media Group in Japan, went to France’s ATD Fourth World Street Libraries. ATD, which stands for Agir Tous pour la Dignité or All Together in Dignity. The organization is dedicated to providing access to books, stories, music, and artistic activities for children and families in under-resourced communities.