March 29, 2009
The annual award, named after late Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, is the world’s largest children’s book award and includes a cash prize of 5 million kronor ($620,000).
The Palestinian Tamer Institute For Community Education received the award for its work to promote reading in the West Bank and Gaza.
In its award citation, the jury honored the group’s “unusual breadth and versatility,” saying it “acknowledges the power of words and the strength of books, stories and imagination as important keys to self-esteem, tolerance and the courage to face life.”
Every year, the group organizes a national reading campaign, including discussions about literature, drama and writing activities. In 2008 the campaign reached 52,000 children in refugee camps and remote villages.
It has also helped teenagers make their own magazine, with poems and short stories, and has published more than 130 children’s books.
Erik Titusson, a spokesman for the prize, said the institute has been nominated regularly since 2004 and that there were no political aspects to the jury’s choice.
The award was established by the Swedish government in 2002 to commemorate Lindgren, whose characters such as Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson on the Roof have captivated generations of children around the world.
The prize will be handed out by Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria in a ceremony on June 2.
Associated Press Writer Malin Rising contributed to this story