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A child, reading a book

Children have the right to great stories

To lose yourself in a story is to find yourself in the grip of an irresistible power. A power that provokes thought, unlocks language and allows the imagination to roam free. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was created in 2002 by the Swedish government to promote every child’s right to great stories. This 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, it is the largest award of its kind. Above all else, it highlights the importance of reading, today and for future generations.

In memory of Astrid Lindgren

Few have done more for the right of children to a rich inner life than Astrid Lindgren. The creator of stories beloved the world over, she was a renewer of children’s literature. She was also a steadfast humanist who made her voice heard in the public debate, speaking with moral conviction, with humor, and always with her focus on children and their future. When, in 2002 at the age of 94, her voice finally fell silent, the Swedish Government decided to found an award to  honour her memory and to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature around the world.

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is administered by the Swedish Arts Council. The award office is responsible for communication, support to the jury, finances and all activities related to the award. The laureates are chosen by a twelve-member expert jury.

High-quality literature

Astrid Lindgren was prominent in the development of children’s literature as an art form. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is awarded to those who continue to work in her spirit: with imagination, bravery, respect and empathy, and maintaining the highest degree of artistic excellence. The attention of the award leads to more translations and to more children having access to high-quality literature—entertaining, innovative, challenging, or complex.

The prize amount of SEK 5,000,000 ($513,000) is a signal to the world that Sweden takes children’s reading very seriously. Reading books in translation fosters understanding among people and cultures. Children’s and young adult's access to literature is a precondition for democracy and openness. What will happen if our children never gain access to the worlds opened up by reading? Astrid Lindgren herself said this in her speech at the reception of the H C Andersen Award in April 1958:

Everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebody’s imagination. Children create miracles when they read.