By Maya George
April 2 marks the 48th celebration of International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People. Every year, the organization chooses a new theme for the holiday and asks a chosen illustrator to create the promotional materials. This year’s theme is “Many Cultures, One Story” last year’s theme was “Imagine Nations Through Story” (IBBY). This unknown holiday has the possibility to have a tremendous impact on children and international human relations.
Originating in 1967, the holiday was developed to inspire children to read and to honor Hans Christian Andersen, who was born on April 2. A successful author of mature children’s stories, Andersen is typically known for his many fairy tales written in the early 19th century in Denmark.
Andersen’s fairy tales, and many of those written before the 20th century, are riddled with graphic imagery of characters engaging in behavior our modern society identifies as gruesome. Andersen's version of the Little Mermaid, for example, asks the young girl to kill the prince and when she fails, she disintegrates into sea foam. Another set of 19th century fairy tale authors, The Brothers Grimm, wrote their version of Cinderella as ending with the step sisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit into the slipper. The first version of Cinderella, Yeh-Shen, was written in the early 9th century in China. The story concludes with the King noticing Cinderella has “the tiniest feet,” a compliment, one so high it was almost a term of endearment.