IPA’s Sustainable Development Goals Book Club Welcomes Bologna, Others

In News by Porter Anderson

The first selection of children’s books in the International Publishers Association’s SDG Book Club with the United Nations is due on April 2 at Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

At the London Book Fair, representatives of the International Publishers Association and Elsevier were at the United Nations Publications stand to promote the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club. From left are Rachel Martin of Elsevier, the IPA’s secretary general José Borghino; IPA vice-president Bodour Al Qasimi; IPA former president Michiel Kolman; IPA current president Hugo Setzer; and Mexico City’s Benjamin Curley. Image: IPA

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

To ‘Inspire More of the Next Generation To Take Action’
On Friday (March 15), Bologna Children’s Book Fair (April 1 to 4) issued a statement saying that it “has now decided to join the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club, a multilingual project inspired by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, this is the program announced in September by the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the United Nations Outreach Division as the SDG Book Club for young readers.

It’s now expected that a first selection of books for the club will be announced at Bologna on April 2, International Children’s Book Day.

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were put into place in 2015 and came into force in January 2016. Those goals are the pillars that anchor the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The concept of the new book club’s development is meant to support all 17 of the goals.

Indeed, at last week’s London Book Fair, the UN and IPA included Bologna in its announcement of new collaborative organizations on the project, bringing together the support of publishers, libraries, booksellers, and young reading specialists. The confirmed collaborators in the SDG Book club now comprise:

  • The United Nations
  • International Publishers Association
  • International Federation of Librarian Associations
  • European & International Booksellers Federation
  • International Board on Books for Young People
  • Bologna Children’s Book Fair

The idea of the program is to present a selection of books for children aged 5 to 12 on each of the Sustainable Development Goals. Each month a new SDG is to be the focus of the program, and a list of relevant books for children will be announced.

The initiative is expected to familiarize youngsters with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to bring forward new voices and concepts from around the world in all six official UN languages.

In a prepared statement from the London Book Fair event, IPA secretary general José Borghino is quoted, saying, “As the recent children’s climate strikes have shown, children are keen to learn about their world and how to improve it.

“The International Publishers Association … together with the UN believe that by highlighting high-quality, creative children’s books we can inspire more of the next generation to take action and help us all to achieve the SDGs by 2030.”

Borghino’s reference is to the series of events on Friday in which children in various parts of the world made a statement by leaving their classrooms to call attention to climate change, a movement spurred by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg. There’s coverage here, from the BBC, of the activities and positions involved.

The under-secretary-general for global communications at the UN, Alison Smale, said, “I know first-hand the value of reading as a way to learn. I can hardly think of a better way to capture young hearts and minds than through books. We’ve created the SDG Book Club not only to inspire children to read and learn, but to empower them to play their part in making the world a better place.”

From Bologna, exhibition manager Elena Pasoli is quoted, saying that the book fair sees the SDG Book Club “fruitfully matching the mission of both the fair and its children’s book community—a hard-working community that strives to forge citizens for a better tomorrow, continually creating networks through dialogue and building cultural bridges to feed a new and shared humanism.”

There is a newsletter available for sign-up here to keep up with activities of the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club.

‘Closer to the Challenges of Our World’

More comments have come from the leadership at other collaborating organizations.

From Gerald Leitner of the library associations’ federation, we read, “Achieving the Global Goals will need action from everyone. The SDG Book Club offers a great way to introduce today’s young people to the key issues of our time, to mobilize them, and to and prepare them to be the doers and leaders of tomorrow.”

Liz Page at the International Board on Books for Young People says the project “supports IBBY’s mission of bringing children and books together. IBBY’s international network will be helping young people learn about and understand why these 17 goals really matter for the future—for their future.”

And at the Booksellers Federation, Julie Belgrado is quoted, saying, “There is nothing more important for booksellers than to put books into the hands of readers, especially young ones. The SDG Book Club is a wonderful initiative which will not only get young readers closer to books, it will also bring them closer to the challenges of our world. Giving them access to high quality selected works, which highlight the importance of the SDGs in a playful and simple way, is giving them the possibility to join the debate from an early age and providing them with the keys to shape tomorrow’s world. Booksellers will be really happy to play their part in this project.”

In the language of the United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals “are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it’s important that we achieve each goal and target by 2030.”

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are:

  • No poverty
  • Zero hunger
  • Good health and well-being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Clean water and sanitization
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry innovation and infrastructure
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Life on land
  • Peace, justice, and strong institutions
  • Partnerships for the goals

More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, and more on the work of the International Publishers Association is here.

Our Spring Magazine is ready for your free download, having been produced to coincide with the London Book Fair. Trade visitors to London found a print edition available, also free of charge.

In the magazine, you’ll find issues and players who were important at this year’s London Book Fair and who will factor into other major fairs of the season this year, plus an early look at key points interest about the coming Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20).

Download the new magazine here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.