Speech by Minister of Education, Research and Culture Leif Pagrotsky

Award Ceremony 31 May 2006 Skansen, Stockholm
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2006

Your Royal Highness,
Your Excellencies,
Esteemed Award-Winner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Expressing yourself simply and clearly is often one of the most difficult things of all.
Astrid Lindgren was a genius in this respect. She wrote stories in a completely natural way, based always on the needs of the child and adopting the child’s viewpoint. The total empathy she displayed in her storytelling also made her a linguistic innovator. She became a sort of literary glazier, putting children’s questions to the adult world. She gave all of us new eyes to see with.

She also inspired a public debate about the position of children in society. About tolerance, justice and struggle. About responsibility. Astrid Lindgren placed children’s stories at the heart of contemporary life.
In her world, magic becomes reality and reality becomes magic. She empowered her readers with strength, dreams and the courage to tackle life.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was created in her honour. The Government established it in her name to focus greater attention on children’s culture – both in Sweden and abroad. The prize is intended to foster exchange and a greater understanding of children’s literature throughout the world.

Around Sweden, there is a powerful commitment to children’s culture. This is abundantly clear from the recent report of a government task force set up to examine the situation. But their report also shows that children’s culture is unevenly distributed around the country. Many youngsters still lack access to culture of good quality. This may be due to the area they live in, the school they attend or familybackground.

We are now preparing for Children’s Culture Year 2007 in Sweden – a national, regional and local drive to promote culture for the young. We will also be stepping up our international efforts. Our aim is to infect the world with children’s culture of the highest quality!

To this year’s winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize, Katherine Paterson, I would like to say:

When you receive the world’s foremost prize for children’s literature tonight, it will be a mark of support for children throughout the world. It will be a confirmation of your own outstanding literary work and commitment and it will be an affirmation of the importance of children’s culture as a whole.


Leif Pagrotsky 
Leif Pagrotsky