Ladies and gentlemen, here in Stockholm and in Bologna,
With her many books, Astrid Lindgren has given us unforgettable characters and unique stories. They are friends to return to throughout life. In much of her work, the feeling of home is very strong.
Either a home created by adults; like in the stories about Emil in Lönneberga and the children in Bullerbyn, or as in the books about Pippi Longstocking, a home created by a child and her imagination.
In Nils Karlsson Pyssling, the items that we connect to home are incredibly big; a bath can be taken in a tea cup and a meatball lasts a whole day. Still, Astrid reminds us of what makes a home; somewhere familiar, where we can rest and feel safe.
Research shows that the simple practice of sitting on someone's lap and being read to enhances a child's experience of literature. To feel surrounded by warmth and love makes it easier for the little ones to be brave enough to take on a new adventure. I believe it is the same thing with a home. A home is a place where we can relax and feel secure. It is also a place to leave and come back to.
Of course, today my thoughts go to all the children fleeing from war, coming to new countries, many of them are coming to Sweden. Finally they might feel safe. But are they at home? No, that is something different.
The Swedish author Viveka Sjögren explains this in an exquisite and beautiful way in her book "Om du skulle fråga Micha" (If you would ask Micha). With colourful pictures and few words she gives the reader a nuanced story of fleeing and finding a new home, and she does it from a child's perspective. How a piece of torn wallpaper, still bearing the smell of the old home, becomes the most precious belonging to someone who has no other choice than to create a new home, this time starting from nothing.
We must not forget this. We, who everyday can go to a place that we call home, surrounded by things that bear our memories. We owe it to the refugees coming to Sweden, to help them feel at home with us, to get to know the country they live in.
Literature is an effective way to get to know the world. I very much appreciate the initiative taken by Swedish authors, publishers and libraries to introduce Swedish literature to children that have arrived in our country.
And today we celebrate a great day for children's literature; when the laurate of the world's greatest prize of literature for children will be presented. Last year, the ALMA- prize was awarded to the South African organization PRAESA which introduced me and millions of other to their outstanding work. I actually visited them this January and took part of the work carried out in a reading club for children in a township outside Cape Town. Now I am excited to experience this year's laurate.
I am very proud to leave the floor to the president of the ALMA-jury Boel Westin. Thank you!
Talet publicerades på regeringens hemsida den 5 april, 2016.