People around the world are deeply touched by the desperately dangerous circumstances for boatloads of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, with many arriving on the small island of Lampedusa, Italy. In response to the waves of refugees, IBBY Italia is working to establish the first children’s library in Lampedusa for the young migrants that arrive there every year, as well as for the local children and teens.
With such a diversity of cultures, it made sense to begin the Lampedusa library’s collection with wordless picture books—“silent books” that tell a story with pictures but no text. IBBY Italia gathered a selection of outstanding books from 23 countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, Korea, the UK, the US, and Canada. These wordless picture books begin at the beginning, with the universal language of images and art, bypassing age, culture and language barriers, to offer readers a unique but shared reading experience.
In the true spirit of Jella Lepman who founded IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People), the library in Lampedusa is conceived to provide a place of peace, reflection, pause and hours of reading enjoyment. It is like a seed library that has been planted and that will grow into a complete collection of books for the use and pleasure of the children who live or pass by there.
To showcase the library, “Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa,” a travelling exhibit of more than 100 renowned wordless picture books, has been touring around the world. Following stops in cities in Italy, Mexico City and Graz, Austria, the exhibit is now in Canada, travelling to Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.
Canadian children and adults will delight in reading these books, experiencing our uniqueness while celebrating our differences. Activities and events to promote and highlight the Silent Books exhibit will include a postcard that Canadian children can fill with a drawing or a message to send back to the children of Lampedusa. Sharing these books may bring us closer to the children who live in Lampedusa and to other children who travel until they find a safe place to call home.
Canadian tour dates for Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa travelling exhibit
Aug. 28 to Sept. 18
Stanley A. Milner Library, 7 Winston Churchill Square
Oct. 1 to 23
Irving Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, 1961 East Mall
Oct. 8 to 18
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 West Georgia St.
Oct. 10 to 22
Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan St.
Nov. 2 to Dec. 11
Toronto Public Library, North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St.
IBBY Italia and IBBY Canada thank the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto for its generous support, as well as IBBY Italia, IBBY International, the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Edmonton Public Library, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Public Library, and Toronto Public Library. Special thanks to Merle Harris of Edmonton and Dr. Kathryn Shoemaker of Vancouver.
IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People is committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY was founded in 1953 by Jella Lepman, and is an international network represented in over 70 countries. IBBY Canada was formed in 1980 to promote Canadian children’s literature; members include authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, educators, and publishers.
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