The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) has won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2015.
Based in Cape Town, PRAESA is a charity which works to promote reading for children and young people across South Africa. Since they were set up in 1992, they have produced the Little Hands books, a series of short books in different African languages to encourage children to read in their native languages, and also set up the Vulindlela Reading Club, which combines oral storytelling with reading, singing games, and dramatizations.
PRAESA won from a pool of 197 candidates, who were nominated from over 60 countries worldwide (you can see them all here) and the announcement was broadcast live at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. This is only the second time that the award has gone to an organisation rather than an author or illustrator, after the Tamer Institute for Community Education in Palestine won in 2009.
The award was founded by the Swedish government in 2003 to honour Astrid Lindgren, the author of the much-loved Pippi Longstocking books. The prize aims to promote literature for kids and teens from all over the world which displays “a profound respect for democratic values and human rights”. There’s plenty of prestige attached to winning as it honours lifetime achievement, as well as a fairly enormous cheque – it’s the richest children’s literature prize in the world, with winnings of 5m kroner (that’s nearly £400,000!).