Retrospective of the Celebrations of the International Children’s Book Day 2021

International Children’s Book Day is celebrated every year on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. ICBD 2021 was sponsored by USBBY, the United States section of IBBY. The message, “The Music of Words” has been written by Margarita Engle and the poster was created by Roger Mello.


Earlier this year, we asked the National Sections of IBBY what they were planning to do to celebrate International Children’s Book Day on 2 April. It was very satisfying that a large number of sections shared their projects with us, despite the restrictions imposed by the fight against the pandemic and the successive lockdowns in many regions. It was a pleasure to see all the ideas and solutions put in place all over the world by IBBY members to celebrate this special day by encouraging children, families and teachers to gather around reading.

We have prepared a tour of the most inspiring activities that were organised this year to celebrate the International Children's Book Day!

In-person exhibitions and festivals

A few sections were able to organise physical events that brought small groups of children together around books and reading, while at the same time observing all the necessary pandemic safety rules.

We were particularly pleased to learn that the IBBY section in Afghanistan, AFBBY, together with Aschiana and with the help of other local organizations, was able to organise a one-week children's books exhibition in the central office of Aschiana, despite the very tense and dangerous situation in Kabul.

IBBY China organised exhibitions in the Capital Library of Beijing, where they displayed previous posters of the International Children's Book Day, winning illustrations from the BIB biennal as well as the scarves designed by Andersen Award winning illustrators for the IBBY fundraising (you can buy them here).

Smaller exhibitions were also organised in schools in about 17 provinces. 

Other sections, such as IBBY Cameroon and IBBY Sri Lanka, organised in-person workshops and storytelling events. IBBY Malaysia members put together three storytelling events with very small groups in different locations, where the children gathered to listen to stories, read and sing.

IBBY Pakistan has made, with the help of a young student, a beautiful video showing their celebration on 2 April. 

Online events and activities

Most IBBY sections were not able to organise in-person meetings because of stricter measures related to Covid-19. Therefore, they had to resort to entirely digital celebrations. Many sections organised workshops and talks on Zoom or YouTube, these includes events in Argentina, Australia, Ecuador, Mexico, Slovenia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates...

Other sections devised innovative online storytelling formats, including by IBBY in the Dominican Republic, where one of the section’s members has been organising entertaining storytelling events for many years on her YouTube channel, which has over 4,000 followers.


IBBY Iceland organised a reading on public radio by the author Kristin Ragna Gunnarsdóttir, who performed an unpublished short story, which was heard simultaneously in many schools throughout the country.

IBBY United Arab Emirates held a series of reading sessions in different languages on YouTube, which you can find here.

Some larger reading festivals were organised by the Hungarian and Japanese sections of IBBY with great success. IBBY Hungary made an online version of its international book festival with several book presentations and readings for children and adults on various topics. More than 2,000 people followed the event. You can find all the videos here.

Online activities to promote children’s literature and International Children’s Book Day

Several sections , such as the IBBY sections in Greece, Mexico and Spain, made some moving videos to promote the International Children’s Book Day, by playing with the theme “The Music of Words” and with the motives created by Roger Mello. The Greek Section of IBBY invited the Children’s Choir of Aghia Varvara Church (Argyroupoli) to sing Margarita Engle's poem translated in Greek by Loty Petrovits and set to music by Lora Petropoulou and Dionysis Kalogeropoulos, respecting, of course, all the necessary Covid-19 regulations.

IBBY Spain and IBBY Mexico asked different people from the children’s book sector to talk about International Children’s Book Day and to recite the message written by Margarita Engle. You can find the videos from Mexico on their Facebook page.

The IBBY Secretariat interviewed Evelyn Freeman, president of USBBY, about ICBD 2021, the resulting mini-film can be seen here. USBBY also published a video with Margarita Engle and Roger Mello, where they discuss how they worked together to produce this powerful message around the theme "The Music of Words".

IBBY Slovenia shared a video made for the occasion with a group of children and their teacher on the theme of Hans Christian Andersen. 

The St Petersburg Branch of Russian IBBY and the Central City Children’s Library A. Pushkin organised their Annual City Interlibrary project with thematic projects around the children’s favourite book characters of 2021, Pettson and Findus by Sven Nordqvist, for the 75th anniversary of the writer. To promote the project, they created a website with resumes of all the participating institutions.

This reminds us that International Children's Book Day is celebrated not only by IBBY sections, but also by libraries, bookstores, publishing houses and other institutions around the world. They plan their own activities and shared this year’s message and poster widely, they also organised readings, special promotions and other events, thus contributing to making the International Children’s Book Day and IBBY's work more widely known. Therefore, we have collected some more images on social media that reflect different celebrations all over the world.

Thank you IBBY sections and all the people and institutions who worked to make the day truly special!


International Children’s Book Day, 2 April 2021, sponsored by USBBY.
Message by Margarita Engle
Poster by Roger Mello