Inspiration for the Future

The President of Banco del Libro, Carmen Diana Dearden and Director Maria Beatriz Medina received yesterday evening at Skansen in Stockholm the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the hand of H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria in the presence of the Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth.

“It’s truly an honour to receive an award that bears the name of an author who has so radically changed our view of children,” said Carmen Diana Dearden in her speech of thanks at Skansen on 30th May, 2007.

The weather gods smiled down on ALMA, Banco del Libro and the many listeners (children’s culture specialists, diplomats, people interested in literature, and children and young people) who had come to Solliden to see HRH Crown Princess Victoria present the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for the fifth consecutive year. The evening was fine, and the rain stayed away. Everyone was in high spirits. The ceremony was broadcast live on TV2, and the TV cameras, on their long booms, swept high above the heads of the audience.

André Pops guided us through the programme along with Georg Riedel and his daughter Sarah, who sang Astrid’s and Georg’s familiar songs. Louise Hoffsten and Salem Al Fakir were also among the many artists. Children from Lasse Kühler's School of Dance gave us a delightful rhythmical performance, featuring favourite Astrid Lindgren characters from Pippi to Ronia the Robber's Daughter.

Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, the Swedish Minister for Culture, noted in her speech that the ALMA Award is intended to promote the rights of children across the world, and the fact that the award is for the first time going to an organisation dedicated to the promotion of reading emphasises that it is as important to spread books as it is to write them. The Banco del Libro has had a profound impact on children’s reading throughout Latin America, she said.

Then it was time for the actual award. The Crown Princess handed over a diploma, drawn by Lennart Eng with calligraphy by Annicka Rücker, to the Banco del Libro’s Managing Director, Maria Beatriz Medina, and Chairwoman of the Board Carmen Diana Dearden. Children dressed in traditional costume distributed flowers.

Carmen Diana gave a speech of thanks and informed everyone that “alma” means “soul” in Spanish.

“We danced and sang, laughed and cried, when we were told that we had won the prize. This is a prize with soul, and it’ll help us to survive for many more years. Because it hasn’t always been easy to keep going for almost 50 years in a country like Venezuela,” said Carmen Diana.

The Crown Princess, who had been standing alongside Carmen Diana, listened attentively, and told the audiance about her about her meetings with Astrid Lindgren. She said that she had been privileged to meet Astrid on several occasions and that what she remembers most about her is her warmth and good humour. And, of course, her love of children.