Hans Christian Anderson and International Children's Book Day
Topic: Special Days
Hans Christian Anderson, the famous Danish author of fairy tales, was born exactly two hundred years ago today in Odense on 2nd April 1805. The picture is of my book, "Favourite Fairy Tales from Andersen", published by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd - Fine Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen and to Her Majesty Queen Mary (shows how old it is!). Stories included are Thumbelina, The Real Princess (the one who couldn?t sleep because of a pea placed under 20 mattresses), The Nightingale, The Emperor?s New Clothes, The Tinder Box, Hans Clodhopper and The Flying Trunk. How I loved those stories!
Sadly, Andersen had a very deprived childhood and ran away to Copenhagen when he was just fourteen. A very talented and complex man - he was also a marvellous singer - he wrote many things besides fairy tales. The list includes novels, travelogues, autobiographies, poems and numerous articles. He died on 4th August 1875 from cancer of the liver. A film called "Hans Christian Anderson" was made by Danny Kaye, that wonderfully funny and talented actor, in 1952. The film was more about the fairy tales than the life of the author but I remember songs like "The Ugly Duckling", "Thumbelina", "Wonderful Copenhagen" and Danny's Kaye's marvellous tongue twisting humour.
Since 1967, to commemorate Hans Christian Anderson's birthday, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) celebrate each year International Children?s Book Day. The aim is to inspire in the young a love of reading, to promote children?s books through schools and libraries and to raise international awareness of other cultures through children?s books.
Now a selection of twenty British footballers, one for each club in the Premier League, are revealing their favourite books to encourage children to read more. The list is surprisingly varied ranging from "The Twits" by Roald Dahl to "A Long Walk To Freedom" by Nelson Mandela. Personally, I don?t approve of Paul McVeigh?s choice of "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown which, although a very popular best seller, is not one I would promote to children. However, the scheme, launched to coincide with International Children's Book Day, is supported by the Government. Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "Our public libraries are a great asset to communities throughout the country which are sometimes overlooked. These footballers are opening the door to family reading and improved literacy by showing that books of all different types are fun and accessible."