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International Children's Book Day 2021

Join the ChLA International Committee in celebrating International Children's Book Day (ICBD) on April 2nd!

About ICBD

ICBD is a worldwide celebration of reading and children's literature meant to inspire and promote a love of children's books.


The idea of an International Children's Book Day was conceived by Jella Lepman, the founder of IBBY, in 1996. Her proposal was unanimously accepted by the International Board on Books for Young People. To mark the day, Jella Lepman wrote a message to the children of the world. Since 1967, on and around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, April 2nd, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international poster sponsor and decides on a theme and invites a prominent author to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design the poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading. Many IBBY Sections promote ICBD through the media and organize activities in schools and public libraries. Often ICBD is linked to celebrations around children's books and other special events that may include encounters with authors and illustrators, writing competitions or announcements of book awards.

ICBD 2021

International Children's Book Day 2021 is sponsored by the United States with the chosen theme "The Music of Words" Award-winning Cuban-American author Margarita Engle penned the annual message. Renowned Brazilian illustrator Roger Mello designed the poster.

Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American author of verse books such as The Surrender Tree, Enchanted Air, Forest World, and Drum Dream Girl. Her many awards include the 2019 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, 2011, 2012, and 2015 Pura Belpré Honor Awards, a 2018 Walter Award Honor, the 2015 Américas Award, a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and several International Latino Book Awards and Honors. She has also been awarded with the Charlotte Zolotow, PEN USA, Golden Kite, Green Earth, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Arnold Adoff Poetry Award, and Claudia Lewis Awards. Margarita served as the 2017-2019 Young People’s Poet Laureate. Her most recent books include With a Star in My Hand, Dreams From Many Rivers, and Dancing Hands. Forthcoming books include Your Heart, My Sky and A Song of Frutas. Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives on the island. She studied agronomy and botany along with creative writing, and now lives in central California with her husband.

Roger Mello was born in Brasilia in 1965. Winner of the 2014 IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award, Roger Mello has illustrated over 100 titles, 25 of which he authored. He has received numerous awards in Brazil and abroad for his work as an illustrator and writer, including the Brazilian Academy of Letters and the Brazilian Union of Writers recognition, the International Best Book of the Year award from the Swiss Fondation Espace Enfants in 2002 for his book Meninos do Manque, the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Award as the Best Foreign Author in China in 2014. In addition, his book, You Can’t Be Too Careful! was one of the American Library Association’s 2018 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor recipients. Roger has held solo exhibitions of his work in China, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Korea, and Taiwan. His work has also been the focus of countless shared exhibitions, international book fairs, and commemorative celebrations around the world. His books have been published in Argentina, Belgium, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Iran, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United States, and have been translated into 15 languages.

2021 Message - The music of Words

When we read, our minds grow wings.

When we write, our fingers sing.

Words are drumbeats and flutes on the page,

soaring songbirds and trumpeting elephants,

rivers that flow, waterfalls tumbling,

butterflies that twirl

high in the sky!

Words invite us to dance---

rhythms, rhymes, heartbeats, hoofbeats,

and wingbeats, old tales and new ones, fantasies and true ones.

Whether you are cozy at home

or racing across borders toward a new land

and a strange language, stories and poems

belong to you.

When we share words, our voices

become the music of the future, peace, joy and friendship,

a melody

of hope.

Written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Roger Mello.

To learn more about the International Committee's relationship with IBBY and our other partnering organizations, visit our Resources Page.

How are you celebrating International Children's Book Day?

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©2018 Created by Olivia Bushardt and Tanja Nathanael for the ChLA International Committee.

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