Reading as a source of joy … and sponsored by the State

Five years ago the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs was commissioned, by the government, to produce and distribute a catalogue covering new literature aimed at children and young people and published in Sweden. The initiative arose as a result of conclusions reached by an investigation stating deteriorating conditions related to children’s accessibility to books.

The catalogue is aimed primarily at children and young people, but also at adults in their role as intermediaries. Its intention is to make the act of reading more enjoyable by informing, in a pleasant manner, about the great variety of books published each year in Sweden. This is done by reviews and articles, often written by young people, who have something valid to impart on the subject of books and reading.

The catalogue is continuously evolving. From its humble origins as a static pdffile on the Internet to this year’s interactive version found at www.barnensbibliotek. se, enabling children to search for books, add their comments about them and read those of others. The information technology applied here also assists those children who have a visual handicap enabling them to listen to book reviews, and for those with hearing impairments to take part with the aid of sign language.

Another aspect which needs to be highlighted in the publishing of children’s books, are those books published in the minority languages spoken in Sweden. These books are also represented in the catalogue.

A group consisting of four experts, each specialising in books for the youngest children through to young people and factual study books, select the books to be presented in text and on the cover. The texts are written with a specific category of readers in mind. This means that children who have not yet learned to read are still able to partake in a reading experience by hearing about the contents of a book.

The catalogue can be ordered free of charge by pre-schools, schools, libraries and book dealers, where the general public can get their own personal copy.

Translated by Jonathan Pearman

Library adviser, Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.