Bodour Al Qasimi, President of International Publishers Association, addressing the 'IBBY International Congress' in Moscow Image Credit: Supplied

Moscow: Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), has stressed the importance of promoting a strong reading culture among children and youth through innovative partnerships between libraries, publishing houses, cultural institutions, governments, NGOs, and all relevant stakeholders.

The IPA President was speaking at the ‘37th IBBY International Congress’, which was held in Moscow, Russia, from September 10 to 12. The event brought together members of different national sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), storytellers, and a diverse community of specialists in children’s and young adult’s literature from around the world.

Access to books

At the congress, which was held under the theme, ‘Great Big World through Children’s Books’, Al Qasimi said substantive measures must be taken to improve children’s access to books through innovative partnerships and amongst all stakeholders in the industry. Al Qasimi described IBBY as an excellent example of international cooperation and said the efforts of IBBY’s national sections – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – have continued to give children a voice.

‘Inspire Plan’

Al Qasimi reassured the congress with a reinforcement of IPA’s commitment to work closely with partners and members to address relevant challenges, stating that the ‘International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience Plan’, or Inspire Plan, being developed by IPA was their next big global initiative geared towards building a roadmap for the future of publishing.

Call for inclusivity

The IPA President also highlighted that a lack of female representation in publishing companies, especially in leadership positions, has led to a one-dimensional approach to the books published and the narratives supported; calling for more diversity and inclusivity in publishing.

On the sidelines of the IBBY World Congress, Al Qasimi also met with local publishers and members of the Russian Book Union, a non-profit organisation that unites publishers, distributors and printers, as well as writers’ groups and associations of the country.