(from The Manila Times)
By Llanesca T. Panti

A Filipino illustrator and a local publishing house have been nominated for the world’s largest prize for children and young adult literature, the Consul General of Sweden reported Thursday.

Albert Gamos, the illustrator of the The Best of Lola Basyang by Severino Reyes, and Adarna House Publishing were nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a Swedish children’s literature award established by the Swedish government in 2002 in honor of the Swedish children’s books writer Astrid Lindgren. The award, which is given annually with 5 million Swedish crowns, aims to increase interest in children and young people’s literature, and to promote children’s rights on a global level.

The Best of Lola Basyang, which earned Gamos a Gintong Aklat Award for Children’s Literature and won him the National Book Award for Best Anthology. Additionally, he also finished runner-up at the 1992 Noma Concours for Picture Book Illustrations.

Adarna House, on the other hand, has been considered for the prestigious award for its Literacy Project called Bright Minds Read (BMR) which they launched in 2003 together with the Ronald McDonald House of Charities and the Department of Education.
BMR was a response to a study conducted among public school students, which revealed that after completing first grade, 40 percent of students still cannot read. Together with educators from the University of the Philippines, 32 picture books were then created and a campaign to teach teachers how to use BMR materials was done.
In the program’s first year, the percentage of Grade 1 non-readers dramatically dropped to 4 percent. To date, BMR has covered 2,000 schools.

Adarna has also partnered with Reach Out and Read-Philippines (ROR-P) to promote early literacy and a love for books. The first bilingual (Filipino-English) board books will be provided to pediatric patientsbelow two years old.

In October last year, Adarnaa House and Reach Out and Read (ROR) Philippines also opened the Adarna House Reading Corner in the activity center of Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The Philippines is one of the first few countries outside of the US that has implemented ROR.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is administered by the Swedish Arts Council. If the Filipinos win the award, they will score a breakthrough victory for the country since previous winners came from the United States, Austria, Brazil, United Kingdom, Japan, Venezuela and Australia.

Unlike many similar awards in literature, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is solely funded by the Swedish central government.