Silent Books: IBBY Camps in Lampedusa

There have been several Camps that have brought together IBBY volunteers to Lampedusa. The status of the IBBY Camps was summarised in a presentation made by Deborah Soria of IBBY Italia, included here, and up-to-date news can be found on the Lampedusa Facebook page:

IBBY Camp in Lampedusa - November 2014

The third IBBY Camp in Lampedusa was hard but very rewarding: 20 IBBY volunteers came on the island from 20 till 26 November 2014 to meet 1,000 children and young people. 

Among the volunteers there were librarians, teachers, promoters of reading, storytellers, illustrators coming from all Italy and distant Canada. With their invaluable help and passionate enthusiasm, we could organize over 40 events, readings and training for children and adults as well.

The kids were all happy to see us again. They were eager to read their books. Their enthusiastic participation was infectious and the awareness about the right and need to have a place for books on the island soon spread among the community.

We trained a group of high-school boys and girls on how a library works and on some techniques to read aloud. At the end of the camp, we left the books in their hands; with the help of some adults and a few teachers, they keep some activities going: thanks to them, the building that will host the library is now provisionally open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and children can keep on enjoying their books. 

We are very happy about this achievement: we hope to send some volunteers on the island soon to support these young "librarians" and boost their enthusiasm. Meanwhile we keep on working hard on institutions and call their attention to the need to have a place for books on the island. 

If you want to volunteer in Lampedusa or if you think your organisation can help with fundraising to support the Lampedusa group, please contact IBBY Italia at:

IBBY Camp in Lampedusa - November 2016

Dr Helen Limon, a researcher on the European Literacy Network, a project within the European Cooperation in Science and Technology which is funded by the EU, participated in the IBBY camp in Lampedusa in November 2016. In her report, she commented: 

At a dedicated childrens library, during the IBBY-led international volunteer staffed camps, on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, young African migrants are bringing their diverse voices to the IBBY Italy Silent Book collection...Collaborative story making is a small but very significant experience of creative mutuality that offers the possibility for new communal spaces to open up and for multi-layered, multi-aged communities of practice to be nurtured. Collaborative story making speaks to the construction of literacy in its widest sense by including  the book and the empathetic potential of stories at a very early stage in the ‘reading’ journey. ... By using the silent books a library ‘space’ is made on the streets of the town, where what is shared can be experienced as greater than that which is not shared. This is the basis of empathetic knowledge and a foundational element in sustainable community building.    

IBBY Camp in Lampedusa - March 2018

The Lampedusa library is open and functioning every Saturday and Wednesday afternoon and registers a large number of clients and of loans. In the morning if requested by schools, it opens for guided visits and for loans to groups and classes. The number of people present during every opening time is very high. The permanent team of voluntary workers (5 people) is strong and united and the library is ready to receive, whenever necessary, the requests and necessities of the migrant community.

The permanent team is joined by both experienced and first-time voluntary workers. Every voluntary worker who comes finds himself in the situation of the migrant who has to communicate with “the other” and meet him through using the books without words. Often the voluntary workers sit down to read about the background and discover what the books (silent books) contain, since these are rare books difficult to find elsewhere (apart from the Palazzo delle Esposizioni). Both the voluntary workers of Lampedusa and the “older” ones from the camps have a great familiarity with using this instrument which they use regularly during the readings in the library, both those for Italian children and those for migrant children passing through. A report of the Camp by Deborah Soria can be found here.

Two of the participants of the March 2018 Camp, Miriam Moss ( and Debbie Beeks (, have written about their experience in their blogs.

IBBY Camp in Lampedusa - November 2019

The seventh camp in Lampedusa was held from 4 to 10 November 2019, information for volunteers can be found here.