Silent Books

In response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving in the Italian island, Lampedusa, IBBY launched the project “Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back” in 2012. The project involved creating the first library on Lampedusa to be used by local and immigrant children,

The second part required creating a collection of silent books (wordless picture books) that could be understood and enjoyed by children regardless of language. These books were collected from IBBY National Sections, over one hundred books from over twenty countries. This set of books was deposited at the documentation and research archive in Rome (Palazzo della Esposizioni), a set delivered to the library in Lampedusa and a further set was part of a travelling exhibition.

There are, to date, five collections of Silent Books: the Silent Books Collection 2013 (110 books), the Silent Books Collection 2015 (51 books), the Silent Books Collection 2017 (79 books), the Silent Books Collection 2019 (67 books) and the Silent Books Collection 2021 (76 books). Within each collection there is a selection of Honour Books. Each of the earlier collections has toured as an exhibition at various venues in Italy and all over the world, as well as being displayed at the Bologna Book Fair and at the IBBY Congresses in New Zealand, Greece and Russia.

As part of this project, IBBY Italia has compiled 10 tips for reading silent books in a community that does not speak a common language, which can be seen here. IBBY Sweden has also produced a booklet giving ideas about how to use the Silent Books with children. The booklet, Silent books, a handbook on wordless picture books packed with narrative power, can be downloaded here.


Silent Books. Final Destination Lampedusa

Silent Books Collections and Exhibitions

Silent Books Collection 2021

The fifth Silent Books collection was introduced during the virtual 2021 Bologna Children's Book Fair. 

This collection comprises 76 books from 22 countries chosen from submissions made by IBBY National Sections. View the 2021 Silent Books collection here and the 2021 Silent Books Honour List presentation here and slides here. Download the full list of the 2021 Silent Books here and the 2021 Silent Books Honour List here. The collection has toured Italy and will be displayed at the IBBY Congress in Putrajaya and then exhibited in Korea by KBBY.

Silent Books Collection 2019

The fourth Silent Books collection was shown at the 2019 Bologna Children's Book Fair.

This collection comprises 67 books from 16 countries chosen from submissions made by IBBY National Sections. View the collection here and download the full list of the 2019 Silent Books here including the 2019 Silent Books Honour List here

Korea hosted the 2019 Silent Books Collection in Seoul in February 2020, a report about the exhibition can be read here. New Zealand exhibited the Collection at the St Mary’s College and the University of Waikato in October and November 2020. Full report and pictures can be found here. Australia is hosting the Collection at the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, from 15 January to 7 March 2021 and at the bookshop Lost in Books, Fairfield NSW, Sidney, from 17 March to 24 April 2021. The virtual launch can be seen here.

Silent Books Collection 2017

The third selection of the Silent Books travelling exhibition was launched in September 2017 on Lampedusa. The selection was displayed at the Bologna Book Fair and other venues in Italy and was exhibited at the IBBY Congress in Athens and then in UAE, Serbia, USA, Switzerland and the UK.

This collection comprises 79 books from 20 countries chosen from submissions made by IBBY National Sections. The 2017 Silent Books collection can be viewed here and downloaded here and the 2017 Silent Books Honour List can be downloaded here. As part of an exhibition of this Silent Books collection in March 2020, the Scottish Book Trust created a Booklist of their favourite titles. 

Silent Books Collection 2015

The second selection of the Silent Books travelling exhibition was launched on 10 June 2015 in Rome at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. This collection comprises 51 books from 18 countries chosen from submissions made by IBBY National Sections. They provide an overview of the world of wordless book publishing in five continents, with books that are rich, original and have a powerful narrative force. See the list of 2015 Silent Books here and the list can be downloaded here. As with the 2013 selection, the 2015 selection has an Honour List of five special books, plus another three awarded Honorary Mentions, the 2015 Silent Books Honour List can be downloaded here.

The 2015 Silent Books selection has been exhibited in various venues in Italy, at the IBBY Congress in New Zealand, in the UAE, Finland and the Ukraine.

Silent Books Collection 2013

The first collection of Silent Books comprised 110 books submitted by IBBY members from four continents. The list of the 2013 Silent Books can be seen here and downloaded here. An Honour List was selected by an international jury from the collection of submitted books. These selected ten works are remarkable for their originality, complexity, historical value and subject matter. In addition, three special awards given by Amnesty International, Palazzo delle Esposizioni and IBBY Italiawere also announced. The 2013 Silent Books Honour List can be downloaded here. An illustrated catalogue of the first Silent Book selection, with a description of the Honour List books, is available to download here.

The 2013 Silent Book collection has been exhibited in Italy, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland and the UK.

IBBY Camps in Lampedusa

Silent Books. Books on Board