Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.
Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor. IBBY Lithuania is the sponsor for International Children’s Book Day 2019. The theme is Books Help Us to Slow Down and features writer and illustrator Kęstutis Kasparavičius.
I’m in a hurry! … I don’t have time! … Good-bye! … We hear words like that almost every day, not only in Lithuania, which is in the very centre of Europe, but in many other places of the world. No less frequently do we hear that we live in the age of information overload, haste and rush.
But if you take a book into your hands, you immediately feel a change. It seems that books have this wonderful quality – they help us slow down. As soon as you open a book and delve into its tranquil depths, you no longer fear that things will whizz by at a maddening speed while you see nothing. All of a sudden, you come to believe you don’t have to dash off like a bat out of hell to do some urgent work of little importance. In books, things happen quietly and in a precisely arranged order. Maybe because their pages are numbered, maybe because the pages rustle gently and soothingly as you leaf through them. In books, events of the past calmly meet events that are yet to come.
The universe of a book is wide open; it happily fuses reality with imagination and fantasy. And sometimes you wonder if it was in a book or in life that you noticed how beautifully the drops of thawing snow drip from the roof, or how pleasing to the eye is the neighbour’s wall overgrown with moss. Do you know from a book or from reality that rowan berries are not only beautiful, but also bitter? Was it in a book or in reality that you were lying in the summer grass, or sitting with your legs crossed, watching clouds sail across the sky?
Books help us not to rush, books teach us to notice things, and books invite us or even make us sit down for a while. We usually read sitting, with a book on our desk or in our hands, don’t we?
And haven’t you experienced another miracle – that when you read a book, the book reads you?Yes, of course, books can read. They read your forehead, eyebrows, the corners of your lips as they rise and fall, but, first and foremost, books read your eyes. And looking into your eyes, they see… Well, you know what!
I am sure that books are never bored when they are in your hands. Someone who enjoys reading – be it a child or adult – is much more interesting than someone who doesn’t care for books, who is always racing against the clock, who never has time to sit down, who fails to notice much of what surrounds them.
On the International Childrenʼs Book Day, my wish to all of us is:
Let there be interesting books for readers and interesting readers for books!
Message translated from Lithiuanian by Daina Valentinavičienė.