In 2002, the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden established the Litteraturpriset till Astrid Lindgrens minne (“Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award”) to promote children’s and young adult literature. It honors Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) to honor the authoress and screenwriter best known for her children’s book series featuring the heroine Pippi Longstocking.
Authors and authoresses, illustrators, oral storytellers, and literacy promoters are eligible for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (A.L.M.A.). An author or authoress receive the award for his or her entire oeuvre, not for individual works, but illustrators and storytellers can also be rewarded, as can persons or organizations working to stimulate reading by children and young adults. Only living persons may receive the award.
The prize includes 5,000,000 Swedish crowns (about $800,000), making it the richest prize in children’s literature and one of the top three richest literary prizes in the world.
In any given year, there may be one laureate or several. Thus, the money may go to a single winner or may be distributed amongst several. The Swedish Arts Council administers the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and states, “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the foundation of our work. An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world.”
The Swedish Arts Council states, “Astrid Lindgren argued in favour of peace and democracy and against all forms of violence. She participated in social debate in speeches and in newspaper articles. Her deeply humanist spirit also permeates her books. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is presented to people and organisations working in her tradition safeguarding democratic values.”
Children have the right to good, entertaining, innovative, provocative and complex literature. Astrid Lindgren was prominent in the development of children’s literature as an art form. In works such as Mio, My Son and The Brothers Lionheart and of course via the revolutionary Pippi Longstocking, she stretched the limits of children’s literature. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award rewards artistic activity of the very highest quality.
According to the Swedish Arts Council, “The award laureates are chosen by a jury with broad expertise in international children’s and young adult literature, reading promotion and children’s rights.” One member represents Astrid Lindgren's family. The other eleven jury members are a mixture of authors and authoresses, illustrators, literary critics, scholars, and librarians.
To increase the global aspect, every year the jury chooses institutions and organisations from all over the world invited to nominate candidates for the award. A prerequisit [sic] of the nomination bodies is that they have a good overview and knowledge of authors, illustrators, storytellers and reading promotion activities in their countries or language areas.
Invitations to nominate candidates are distributed in January every year. The nominations must have been received by the office by May 15. The jury and previous laureates may also nominate. It is not possible to apply for the literary award. The list of nominated candidates is presentaed [sic] at Frankfurt Book Fair in October.
The jury announces the winner or winners of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award at a press conference after the final meeting in March. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria and the Minister of Culture present the award in Stockholm at the end of May or the start of June at the conclusion of a weeklong celebration. The ceremony is broadcast live on television.
The winner meets with readers, the general public, critics, and journalists. There are seminars and workshops.
There are two other Astrid Lindgren prizes. A publisher, Rabén & Sjögren, established the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 1967 to mark Astrid Lindgren's 60th birthday.
It is awarded every year for meritorious authorship within the realm of Swedish literature for children and young adults. The prize money is 50,000 Swedish crowns.
In 1997, the Samfundet de nio (“Society of the Nine”) – a Swedish literary society with nine life members – established a literary prize on Astrid Lindgren's 90th birthday rewarding writers and researchers related to children's and young adult literature. The prize money is 125,000 Swedish crowns.
The first two winners, in 2003, of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award were Austrian authoress Christine Nöstlinger and American author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (1928-2012). Crown Princess Victoria, Prime Minister Göran Persson, and the Minister of Culture took part in the award ceremony at Stockholm’s open-air museum Skansen, but Sendek was not present because he was busy writing an opera about the Holocaust, and sent a representative.
Sendak had previously won two Randolph Caldecott Medals from the Association of Library Service to Children (A.L.S.C.) in 1964 and 1974 and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustrators from the International Board on Books for Young People (I.B.B.Y.) in 1970.
Brazilian actress, playwright, and authoress Lygia Bojunga, who writes under Lygia Bojunga Nunes, won in 2004. Previously, she had won Brazil’s Prêmio Jabuti Award in 1973, the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1982, and the City of Hameln’s Rattenfänger Literaturpreis (Pied Piper Literature Prize) in 1986.
She received a warm welcome from Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, who was born in Germany to a German father and Brazilian mother and was raised in part in Brazil. Crown Princess Victoria presented the award.
Japanese illustrator Ryôji Arai and English author Philip Pullman won the A.L.M.A. in 2005. Arai charmed Crown Princess Victoria and the rest of the crowd with his acceptance speech in the form of a song paying tribute to Astrid Lindgren.
When American authoress Katherine Paterson won in 2006, she brought along seventeen family members, including children and grandchildren. She had previously won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing in 1998 and would go onto win the A.L.S.C.’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 2013. Further, the Library of Congress named her the third National Ambassador for Young People's Literature (2010-11).
The 2007 winner was the Venezuelan children’s literacy organization Banco del Libro (Book Bank). Crown Princess Victoria presented it to, and Managing Director Maria Beatriz Medina at Skansen in the presence of the Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth. Carmen Diana Dearden, Chairwoman of the Board of Banco del Libro, gave a speech.
Sonya Hartnett, the Australian authoress of books for adults, teens, and children won in 2008. Crown Princess Victoria presented her with the award, made by artist Oskar Korsár with calligraphy from Annika Rücker. Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth gave a speech.
The Tamer Institute for Community Education won in 2009. The award ceremony in Stockholm Concert Hall drew approximately 900 authors, artists, teachers, librarians, and politicians.
Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth gave a speech in praise of the Tamer Institute. Crown Princess Voctoria gave the award to representatives of the Tamer Institute.
Belgian authoress and illustrator Kitty Crowther, who has Anglo-Swedish antecedents, won in 2010. Queen Silvia presented her with an original work by Swedish illustrator Eva Lindström on June 1, 2010 at Stockholm Concert Hall. About 1,000 authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, journalists, and politicians were in attendance.
Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan appeared with Kitty Crowther at The Riksdag Library on May 30, 2011 during his week-long celebration. Crown Princess Victoria presented the 2011 A.L.M.A. in the Stockholm Concert Hall in the presence of Minister of Foreign Trade Ewa Björling.
Dutch author Guus Kuijer won in 2012. His celebration week included a lecture at the International Library in Stockholm. Crown Princess Victoria presented him with the award in the presence of Culture Minister Liljeroth.
The Argentine pop singer and children’s book authoress Marisol Misenta, who uses the mononym Isol, won in 2013. Actress Annika Hallin served as hostess for the award ceremony. Culture Minister Liljeroth praised her artistry. Crown Princess Victoria presented her with the award.
This year, Swedish authoress Barbro Lindgren won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award exactly ten years after she the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2004, and forty-one years after she won the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 1973.