Egyptian Board on Books for Young People Reinventing Itself

The Egyptian Board on Books for Young People (EBBY) has recently re-launched its website and is re-launching itself in a meeting at Balsam Bookstore next month. Why is it time for the twenty-seven-year-old organization to re-envision itself? And should you help?

The EBBY, initially founded in 1987, is an Egyptian branch of the International Board on Books for Young People, an organization active worldwide in promoting book culture for young readers. Regionally, there is an active UAEBBY in the Emiratesan LBBY in Lebanon, and a PBBY in Palestine, .

According to Egyptian children’s literature scholar and translator Dr. Yasmine Motawy, the EBBY ceased to exist shortly after January 2011, after its patron the Integrated Care Society withdrew from many of its former projects, including EBBY.

For about a year, Motawy wrote in an email, “the fate of [the Egyptian branch of] IBBY was uncertain, until Dr Nadia El Kholy adopted it, found a patron in the Shoura Foundation for Development, and pulled together a team of fabulous people to start EBBY up again.”

It was Kholy’s tenacity, Motawy said, that helped the EBBY “rise from the ashes.” Right now, the group is looking for new people who would like to be involved with the new website, as well as “social media presence and activities” and Motawy hopes “it can be a home for their energies and imaginations.”

The group’s goals are big: Motawy hopes they will establish a home for “publishers, writers, NGOs, scholars, librarians and others who are interested in children’s books” where they can “come together to promote reading, reading activities, writing/illustrating/translating workshops, creating bibliographies and recommendations to promote a reading culture (and hopefully more writing) for children, setting up competitions and working with the government, private institutions and other organisations on whatever activities they imagine can promote a culture of reading and writing for children in Egypt.”

But that’s not all: “We also want to be able to put Egyptian books on the IBBY honor list and eventually make sure an Egyptian writer gets the Andersen award. We also want to work with other IBBY chapters in the CANA region to promote the reading, writing and translation of Arabic children’s books in general.”

They also aim to help parents and children select better books, by creating a “gold EBBY endorsement sticker for books we select”….

In the short term, the new EBBY hopes to reach out to publishers, writers, and others in the field and estabish itself as a “neutral hub” for shared projects. They also aim to help parents and children select better books, by creating a “gold EBBY endorsement sticker for books we select,” and the group is planning to raise funds so that Egyptian authors are represented at children’s book events worldwide.

The November 15 event is an “open conversation,” Motawy said, between herself, editor of Samir magazine Dr. Shahira Khalil, award-winning author-illustrator Rania Hussein Amin, and audience members. She hopes that all who come will “imagine the possibilities of the Egyptian IBBY together. I hope all those interested can make it, the enthusiasm of our small team is infectious!”

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