Exhibitions of the
2005 collection and the 2007 collection in Japan
Hisako Kakuage, JBBY executive committee
(Responsible for the books for young people with disabilities)
Every two years JBBY organizes exhibition tours of the IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities selection of titles. The 2005 selection toured seventeen locations between the autumn of 2006 and the spring of 2007. The 2007 selection began its tour in summer 2008, has been shown at twelve locations so far. An earlier selection, the Best of Books for Young People with Disabilities IBBY Jubilee Selection 2002, toured 45 locations! Under the title Barrier-free Picture Books from Around the World the exhibitions aimed to promote awareness of children with reading disabilities, stimulate consideration of their reading environment and foster networks among concerned persons.
JBBY provided each venue with an exhibition information package that included explanatory panels on different book types as well as caption displays for individual works. Local organizers added their own programs, which included lectures on activities to promote disabled children’s reading, symposiums on easy-to-read books, workshops on making cloth books, and sign-language read-aloud books. In many cases, the exhibitions took place as part of a larger event, for example, at meetings of the Japan School Library Association, Japan Library Association, or Association for Study of Picture Books.
The flourishing culture of children’s books in Japan, which accounts for the nationwide presence of people and groups capable of hosting events of this kind, sustains the successful continuance of these tours.
Prior to the start of the 2005 collection tour, Heidi Boiesen, head of the IBBY Documentation Centre of Books for Disabled Young People in Oslo, Norway, visited Japan. Her lectures and presence at various gatherings greatly helped to raise awareness about books for disabled children. Her visit to the National Diet Library's International Library of Children’s Literature made it possible for librarians at the national level to become directly acquainted with IBBY projects in this field and with the Documentation Centre in Norway. Among the many volunteer organizations throughout Japan that create cloth and tactile picture books for children with special needs, Heidi was able to visit three whose works were included in the 2005 selection – Mutsuki Kai, Sakuranbo, and Tenohira no Kai – occasions that brought much pride and encouragement to their members.
Although Japan has one of the strongest children’s publishing industries of all IBBY member nations, efforts here on behalf of disabled children’s reading still face many challenges. Given the absence of public funding and support programs, the production and publication of books for such children depends on the generosity and hard work of a few publishers and, in large measure, the unpaid services of volunteers.
We at JBBY are confident that these tours of the IBBY selections have contributed to promoting public awareness of disabled children’s books. Moreover, we believe that they have given encouragement to those involved and renewed their energy as they carry out their endeavors. In particular, we believe the tours have been a valuable first step in raising the discussion of the issue—up to now little recognized in Japan—of reading for children with intellectual, hearing and other disabilities.
Images from the exhibitions