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Cover of Sidewalk Flowers

Award-winning Canadian picture book a gift for every Syrian refugee family

December 15, 2015

IBBY Canada, Groundwood Books and Canada’s libraries welcome Syrian children

IBBY Canada, the Canadian national section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), is pleased to announce a special initiative: a children’s book as a gift of welcome and support for the Syrian refugee families coming to Canada, along with a card in English, French and Arabic encouraging children and their families to go to their public library where they will find so many of the resources they will need for their new lives.

IBBY Canada plans to provide Syrian families arriving here with a copy of Sidewalk Flowers, a wordless picture book with no language barriers to understanding, a visual story that can be enjoyed by children and parents.  Sidewalk Flowers, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award, shows a walk through a city by a father and daughter, as the little girl gathers urban wildflowers growing along the way.

For this special distribution of Sidewalk Flowers, author JonArno Lawson and illustrator Sydney Smith will be donating their royalties, publisher Groundwood Books will be foregoing any revenues, and Webcom will be donating the printing.  IBBY Canada is seeking distribution assistance for the books to reach Syrian families through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

english arabicIn the books will be a welcome letter from IBBY Canada. Also part of the welcome package for each family will be a postcard in English and Arabic or in French and Arabic, that introduces refugee families to Canada’s public libraries. The IBBY Foundation in Switzerland is supporting the printing of the cards. Libraries in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Quebec are working with this IBBY initiative to make Syrian families feel welcome, and libraries in more cities across Canada are expected to join.

Patsy Aldana, president of the IBBY Foundation and founder of Canada’s National Reading Campaign spearheaded the initiative. “IBBY has a long history of providing books for children in crisis. Books are healing for children and families in difficult circumstances, and reading helps children everywhere live better lives,” said Ms Aldana.  “I’m so proud of how well IBBY Canada has executed this project.  And the response from Canadian public libraries has been wonderful. ”

IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) is committed to bringing books and children together. Founded in 1953, IBBY is an international network represented in over 70 countries. IBBY’s Children in Crisis projects have helped children in 25 countries in post-conflict and post-natural disaster situations. IBBY Canada was formed in 1980 to promote Canadian children’s literature; members include authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, educators, and publishers.

For more information, please contact promotions@ibby-canada.org

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