What is IBBY International Board on Books for Young People


IBBY is a non-profit organization representing an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.


Its Mission is:


  • To promote international understanding through childrens books
  • To give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to books with high literary and artistic standards
  • To encourage the publication and distribution of quality childrens books, especially in developing countries
  • To provide support and training for those involved with children and childrens literature
  • To stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of childrens literature


IBBY Structure and Organization


Founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 1953, IBBY is now composed of more than 65 National Sections worldwide.  IBBY represents countries with well-developed book production as well as other countries with only a few dedicated professionals who are doing pioneer work in childrens book publishing and promotion.


The National Sections are organized in different ways and operate on national, regional or international levels.   Members of the National Sections include writers, illustrators, publishers, editors, journalists, critics, translators, educators, academics, university students, librarian and booksellers, social workers, and parents.  In countries with no National Section, individual membership in IBBY is possible. 


IBBYs policies and programs are determined from its Executive Committee:  ten people from different countries and a President, elected biennially by the National Sections at a General Assembly during the IBBY congresses.  They work on a voluntary basis.  The annual dues from the National Sections are IBBYs only source of income.  Independent financing is required to support its activities.  IBBYs management is conducted from its Secretariat, which is based in Basel, Switzerland. 


IBBY Activities


As a non-governmental organization with an official presence in UNESCO and UNICEF, IBBY has a policy-making role as an advocate of childrens books.  IBBY is committed to the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the United Nations in 1990.  One of its main proclamations is the right of the child to a general education and to direct access to information.  Thanks to IBBYs insistence, the resolution includes an appeal to all nations to promote the production and distribution of childrens books.


IBBY collaborates with many international organizations and childrens book institutions and exhibits at the International Childrens Book Fair in Bologna and other international book fairs.


IBBY Congresses


Congresses are conducted biennially in different countries and are important for bringing together IBBY members from all over the world as well as other personalities involved in childrens books and reading development. The congresses are excellent occasions to make contacts, exchange ideas and open horizons.  Every two years a different National Section hosts the Congress and hundreds of people get together to attend lectures, and to participate in seminars, workshops and discussions.    Apart from addressing a current theme from the theoretical point of view, IBBY Congresses also serve as a frame for the General Assembly meetings, the presentation of exhibitions and the celebrations of the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the IBBY Honour List. 


IBBY Asahi Reading Promotion Award


This is a biannual award awarded to two groups or institutions whose outstanding activities have contributed enormously to the promotion of reading programs for children and young people.  The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun sponsors the award.  Nominations are submitted by the National Sections of IBBY and may include worldwide projects.  The Award includes a diploma, and a cash amount of 10,000 U.S. dollars.  


International Childrens Book Day (ICBD)


To inspire a love for reading and to call attention to childrens books, IBBY celebrates ICBD on April 2, Hans Christian Andersens birthday, or around that date. Each year a different National Section has the opportunity to sponsor the international   ICBD.  It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design the poster.  These materials are used in different ways around the world to promote books and reading. 


Projects, Seminars and Workshops


IBBY and the National Sections organize seminars and workshops to help improve the professional skills of writers, illustrators, and editors of childrens books and to strengthen their cooperation with publishers and other groups with a responsibility for the production and distribution of childrens books. 


IBBY Documentation Center of Books for Disabled Young People


Based in Baerum, a suburb of Oslo, Norway, the Center has built up a large international collection of books catering to children and young people with disabilities.  Selected books are shown at conferences, book fairs and exhibitions. 


Bookbird:  A Journal of International Childrens Literature


This quarterly IBBY journal covers many sides of international childrens literature.  Its contents include presentations of writers, illustrators, international childrens literature reviews, and book recommendations.   Bookbird also publishes IBBY news and activities always paying special attention to reading promotion projects worldwide.