Today is International Children’s Book Day, a celebration sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People. Children’s Book Day is celebrated annually on Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday (April 2) “to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.”
Every year, a different country sponsors the celebration, and this year Spain is the host country. Eliacer Cansino, a children’s author from Sevilla, has written a message to children in honor of books and reading. (Cansino has written many books, perhaps most notably his award-winning El misterio Velázquez, which tells the story of the famous painter and one of the dwarfs from Las Meninas.) Book illustrator Noemí Villamuza designed the Day’s poster.
I really enjoyed Cansino’s message, which you can find translated in English at this link. He quotes a popular children’s rhyme about learning to sail, then describes how a forgotten book is able to unfold its sails when a child picks it up—and the child, likewise, is able to be transported “to a world that was at once exciting and unknown”:
And that is the story of how I discovered that beyond my home there was a river, and behind that river a sea, and in the sea was a boat setting sail. The first boat I embarked was called La Hispaniola, but it could just have easily be called Nautilus, Rocinante, Sinbad’s Ship or Huckleberry’s Great Big Boat… All of these, no matter the passing of time, will be there waiting for a child’s eyes to look upon them, unfold their sails and set them sailing…
So, don’t wait any longer. Reach out and pick up a book. Read it and you’ll find that much like that childhood song of mine, there is no boat, no matter how small, that in time doesn’t learn how to sail.
Do you remember when you first had this experience with a book? (For me, several Lois Lowry titles come to mind.)