Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday 16 February 2019

Discover IBBY – At Home and Abroad

Join Dr Robin Morrow AM as she shares a life-time passion and long-term commitment to The International Board on Books for Young People. 

IBBY (The International Board on Books for Young People) was founded in 1953 by Jella Lepman, who believed that books could build bridges of understanding and peace after the destruction of World War II. IBBY now has 75 National Sections all over the world.

In some countries IBBY is the sole or major children’s literature organisation. Here in Australia, as the CBCA sponsors Children’s Book Week and the major awards, IBBY concentrates especially on international matters, showcasing Australian books to the world though activities such as nominating writers and illustrators for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and selecting outstanding books as IBBY Honour Books. For the first time ever in Australia, you can see an exhibition of Honour Books from every IBBY country, together with all Australian Honour books since 1962 (the first one being Tangara by Tasmanian Nan Chauncy)—as an accompaniment to the CBCA conference in Canberra. For an annotated list see the IBBY Australia Honour Books List 1962-2018 (PDF).

IBBY works towards the right of every child to be a reader, a reader with access to books with high literary and artistic standards, including those in their own language. See what IBBY does worldwide at http://www.ibby.org/. The Children in Crisis Fund helps children affected by natural disasters, civil disorder or war, working to replace or create libraries/collections of appropriate children’s books and provide bibliography, the therapeutic use of books and storytelling. IBBY Australia has donated to this work, such as in Japan after the tsunami, in Gaza to rebuild destroyed libraries, and with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. Such work reflects the basic tenets of Jella Lepman, and makes me proud to be a member of this worldwide body. And there are wonderful rewards through friendships forged through IBBY, especially if one attends an international Congress. The most recent was in Athens, and the next is to be held in Moscow in September 2020.

Life sized bronze statue of Hans
Christian Andersen in Malaga, Spain,
a favourite holiday destination.
Can you see the ugly duckling?

IBBY Australia, with national president Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright and an executive committee including Nella Pickup of Tasmania, is in excellent hands. After ten years as president, I am happy to have moved to a different role, as a member of the international jury for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, sometimes referred to as ‘the little Nobel Prize’ as it is given to a writer and an illustrator for their lifetime work. Although I have served on many judging panels, including CBCA and Premier’s Award, this is a responsibility that can feel daunting . . . but as the first Australian judge since the 1980s when the late Dr Maurice Saxby served on the panel, I take courage from his example and like to think he is giving his posthumous blessing to the work. 

In Tasmania, an International Children’s Book Day event will be held on 2nd April, the very day of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. I recommend that you attend if possible, learn more about IBBY, have a lot of fun and help raise money for the Children in Crisis Fund.

Dr Robin Morrow AM
National EC/ Treasurer IBBY

Editor's note: A quiz night! What a great way to show off your children's literature knowledge (or lack ;-(. Bookmark the date and book a place or table. 


  1. What a wonderful blog-post. I have attended IBBY events in the past but did not know of the history nor understand the full role of the group so thank you for your informative piece - now I'd better start swotting for the Quiz night!

  2. Thanks Robin for such an information post.It is very gratifying to see how the small state of Tasmania can contribute to the literary opportunities for young people experiencing disasters and trauma overseas, through a local fun event. Great job!