P Aldana, congress 2006



Patricia Aldana, IBBY President 2006-


Dear Friends,

I am honoured to have been elected. Thank you.

In many ways IBBY has never been in a better situation. How ironic as we are living in a time which in many ways is probably the worst for children in many parts of the world since IBBY was founded.

So many children today are threatened by war. I am thinking specifically of children in war-torn Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Darfur, and Afghanistan, among others. So many children are hungry. So many are experiencing new kinds of racism and exclusion. So many live in systems which deny them even the most basic rights—to schooling, to food, to shelter and to safety. It even seems, as deeply immoral as such an idea is, that in certain quarters the lives of some children are given greater weight than the lives of others.

None of these things can be acceptable to our IBBY community. As individuals many of us are actively opposing these deep injustices.

As an organization built on the ideals left to us by Jella Lepman, we can and must do the best we can in our small sphere. Every child no matter where has the right to become a reader. A reader is a person who has the possibility of taking some power over his life into his or her hands. A reader can learn about the world and can understand his or her own place in it. And a reader has a chance to make his or her life better and to help others to do so, too.

We also believe that a reader has a right to the best books in the world. Those books can be Andersen winners, but I think we also understand now that they must also be books that speak directly to the readers’ own life. Elisa Bonilla of Mexico has presented us with a wonderful metaphor. Children need books which are windows but they also need books which are mirrors.

Thanks so much to Mr. Yamada and other donors who have given us the possibility to address these needs in a more concrete way than ever before. And we will soon be seeking funds for projects for children in crisis around the world. I know that IBBY national sections are impatient for our help and support and that IBBY members will continue to do everything possible to bring children and books together and not give up the struggle, hard as it seems in these terrible days, to build bridges of understanding between the world’s children and to do everything in our power to make the world a better place for them no matter where they live.

Patricia Aldana, Macau September 2007