International Children’s Book Day
“Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with short steps.” -Hans Christian Andersen
Today, on April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day is being celebrated around the world to inspire a love of reading and celebrate children’s literature. This day has been celebrated since 1967 on the birthday of famed children’s author Hans Christian Andersen who wrote stories such as the Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. Sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the day calls attention to the importance of education and the promotion of literacy for children around the world and provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the importance of Millennium Development Goal 2 to expand universal primary education.
Around the world 57 million children are not enrolled in primary school and 18 million teachers are needed worldwide to alleviate net primary school enrollment gap. The issues do not end there, those schools that are operating are often times not safe environments conducive to learning and do not have the child’s best interest in mind. In fact, almost two-thirds of children who are not attending primary school live in conflict heavy zones. These children not only lack access to a quality education, but simple provisions for learning such as books and basic school supplies. Only 64% of boys and 61% of girls enroll in secondary school, with more than a third of the enrollment discrepancies occurring in developing countries. MDG 2 emphasizes that millions of children do not have the opportunity to attend school and do not have a safe learning environment needed for them to thrive. In fact, UNICEF recommends additional methods to increase school enrollment including increasing teacher training, reducing school fees that deter enrollment, and the promoting sanitation and hygiene at schools among others.
“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” – Sherman Alexie @Sherman_Alexie; poet, writer, and filmmaker.
Education is the single greatest intervention for increasing equity and furthering development. However, before a child attends secondary school, or primary school, they must first learn to read. Children’s books offer both an imaginative escape, and an opportunity to foster a love for learning. On this International Children’s Book Day, what’s your favorite children’s book/author?