The Music of Words at ICBD 2021 in Slovenia


In 2020, the Slovenian Section of IBBY was the official sponsor of April 2, the International Children’s Book Day; the message, titled “Hunger for Words”, was authored by Peter Svetina, and the poster created by Damijan Stepančič. Both have been nominated for the 2020 and 2022 Andersen Awards. We continue to be amazed at the number of IBBY’s national sections that had participated in the online celebration and promoted our message in their own languages.

Also note that the 10th international congress of IBBY in 1966, where April 2 was proposed to be celebrated as a day of children’s books, was hosted by none other than the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.

In 2021, April 2 will be celebrated and our hunger for words sated by a wonderful ICBD message from USBBY. The message, titled The Music of Words, was written by Margarita Engle and translated into Slovene by Nada Marija Grošelj; together with the poster created by Robert Mello, it is already accessible at our website.

KBIn collaboration with the Ljubljana City Library, the Slovenian Section of IBBY is also planning a reading promotion action for April 2, titled: The Music of Words of Kristina Brenk, and Words about Music: 110 Great Reading Suggestions, as in 2021, we celebrate the 110th anniversary of the birth of Kristina Brenk, poet, playwright, translator and editor who had built bridges not just between books and children but also between Slovenian and international children’s literature.

Her work is perfectly described by the following quote from this year’s ICBD message:
When we share words, our voices
become the music of the future,
peace, joy and friendship,
a melody
of hope.

Kristina Brenk (October 22, 1991–November 20, 2009) was one of the founders of the Mladinska knjiga publishing house (established in 1945) and its first editor for children’s literature. She had created the following series of children’s books: Najdihojca, Čebelica, Velike slikanice, Cicibanova knjižica, Zlata ptica, Zvezdica, Mladi oder and Lutkovni oder, some of which exist even today. Brenk translated a number of foreign fairy tales and children’s poems and served as the editor for numerous collections where they were joined by Slovenian tales and poetry, e.g. Grandma’s Fairy Tales (Babica pripoveduje – a collection of Slovenian folk tales), Mother Ivy (Mamka Bršljanka – a collection of folk tales from all over the world), The Magic Porridge Pot (Lonček, kuhaj! – a collection of Slavic folk tales). Her own writings were inspired by her childhood memories of home and war, as well as folklore. Brenk was also one of the founders of the Reading Badge movement. Thanks to her, Slovenian children’s literature became a subject of literary research and a course at various Slovenian universities. The Kristina Brenk Award for original Slovenian picture book is named after her.

The Ljubljana City Library is celebrating 2021 as the Year of Kristina Brenk (marking the 110th anniversary of her birth), wherein the various activities and events that will take place at the library’s children’s sections as well as elsewhere will also involve Pionirska – The Centre for Youth Literature and Librarianship and the Bežigrad Library. These have also designed the visual identity of the year, wherein they will be collaborating with the Slovenian Section of IBBY as well as other organizations dealing with reading culture and promotion.

The reading action is currently still being worked out. It will last the whole year, inviting children, young people and families to read Brenk’s evergreen works, books from two of her series that are still being published today (Čebelica and Zlata ptica), anthologies connected to Brenk, as well as good children’s books that deal with music. We have a list of 110 evergreen books that remain of interest even today and will invite young readers into “the music of words” of Kristina Brenk, as well as to speak “words about music”. In addition to reading, the year’s activities and projects will discover the many stones of the mosaic of Brenk’s writing. Kristina Brenk’s motto was “only the best for our children”, and that is why her heritage lives on.



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