Marit Törnqvist was announced the winner of the 2020 IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award along with Zhu Yongxin from China. This Award has been established by the Shenzhen iRead Foundation and IBBY to recognize great reading promoters globally.
Marit Törnqvist is a member of the Read with Me family as well as an international supporter. This capable illustrator and promoter was invited to Iran twice by the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature of Iran (IRHCLI). Over the years, she has had great influence on the Read with Me program through a variety of collaborations.
The art of Marit shines the brightest when she reaches out to children in their hardships and helps them find practical solutions to their problems. In addition to the programs she has developed for the refugees in her home country, she has stood by the Read with Me program through granting the copyright of her books and holding workshops for children and Read with Me experts.
Granting Copyrights to Read with Me
Marit has granted the copyrights of 4 of her books to the Read with Me program: The Red Bird by Astrid Lindgren, Bigger than a Dream by Jef Aerts, Pikkuhenki by Toon Tellegen and The Happiness Island by Marit herself. The Lindgren family along with the authors and translators of these books, have also granted the copyrights of these books to be used in reading promotion in the deprived areas of Iran. These books have all been published by the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature Publishing House and become part of book collections of the Read with Me program.
Collaboration in the Production of Quality Books
Marit Törnqvist started the Intercultural Project to produce quality picture books for the “Read with Me” program in Iran at the invitation of the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature in 2015. In this project, she cooperated with a group of young and creative Iranian illustrators as the art director to produce Iranian books with high quality illustrations and content for Iranian children. Achievement of three years of continuous work in this project has been three quality books written by Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi titled “The Black Monster and The White Mouse” illustrated by Keyvan Akbari, “Overcoated Carrot” illustrated by Mahsa Mansoori and “Seven Horses, Seven Colors” illustrated by Nooshin Safakhoo.
These three books were unveiled during Marit’s visit to Iran in April 2018. At the exhibition “Illustration of Children’s Books in Intercultural Dialogue”, held in collaboration with the Iranian Illustrators Society at Iranian Artists Forum, works of Törnqvist and the three Iranian illustrators were presented.
The book “Seven horses, seven colors” was translated in Dutch and published by — in the Netherlands in June 2018 and was praised by critics in Belgium and Netherlands. In 2019, this books was listed among the world’s best picture books in “Frankfurt Book Fair”. It was also among the shortlisted candidates of Nami Concours 2019.
Workshops for Children Covered by Read with Me
Marit has held several workshops for children in the marginal regions of Tehran, Esfahan and the Earthquake-stricken areas of Kermanshah. These workshops were designed based on the published books of this illustrator to help children overcome adversities through reflecting with the stories and pictures and be able to express their thoughts and emotions.
In 2016, through the invitation of Children and Young Adults Literature Admirers Association of Esfahan, Marit held workshops on the Red Bird for a number of underserved children in “Hasseh”. In the Supportive Education Center of MahmoudAbad, she also held “The Red Bird” and “Bigger than a Dream” workshops for two age-groups.
In 2018, “Happiness Island” and “Pikko, die Hexe” workshops were held by Marit for children of different age-groups in the Supportive Education Center of MahmoudAbad and two Cabin-Libraries in two earthquake-affected areas of Kermanshah.
The sincere and intimate connection of this artist with children drives them to paint their emotions and struggles on canvas with much ease. Children who read her books have written her letters from time to time and Marit responds all with indescribable kindness.
Workshops for Read with Me Promoters and Experts
In addition to the children’s workshops, Marit held special workshops for the Read with Me experts to share her experiences about reading promotion among children in crisis.
In her presentation in the first Read with Me Conference in 2016, she also shared her experiences about reading to children and illustrating children’s books with the promoters of children’s literature.
Marit Törnqvist’s collaborations with IRHCLI and the Read with Me program indicates a constructive, two-sided cooperation and attempt to ameliorate the lives of children. This is a concern that knows no borders and connects different worlds through mutual notions.