Entertainment & Arts

South Africa reading project Praesa wins Lindgren Award

Praesa Image copyright Praesa
Image caption Praesa was founded in Cape Town in 1992

A reading project aimed at children and young people in South Africa has been named the winner of the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Praesa, or Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, was rewarded for having "the joy of reading as its compass point".

The award is named after Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, the creator of the Pippi Longstocking book series.

Praesa director Carole Bloch said winning was "a dream coming true".

The judges said the organisation, founded in Cape Town in 1992, showed the "crucial role of books and stories in creating rich, full lives for children and young people".

The prize, now in its 15th year, is the world's largest children's literature award and is worth five million Swedish kronor (£391,000).

"This will make an incredible difference to the reading work we do for huge numbers of children across Africa," said Bloch.

"Having this award come to the African continent gives great acknowledgement to the importance of... reading to all children irrespective of the language and background."

Six British authors - including Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen and Allan Ahlberg - were among this year's 197 candidates, nominated from 61 countries.

Image copyright Praesa
Image caption Praesa director Carole Bloch said it was "an honour" to win the prize

Judges praised Praesa for bringing people together with its "innovative reading and storytelling projects".

"For more than 20 years, Praesa has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture," said the panel.

The organisation has produced a series of books in different African languages and formed a network of reading clubs to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents and teachers to read with them.

Last year's prize was won by Swedish author Barbro Lindgren, whose books, including Loranga and Masarin, have been translated into more than 30 languages.

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