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A new prize dedicated to children’s fiction – because reading is fun and makes life better

Let’s reiterate, once again, how enjoyable and important reading is, by recalling a famous quote by Umberto Eco: “At the age of 70, those who don’t read will have led only one life – their own! Those who read will have lived five thousand years: they were there when Cain killed Abel, when Renzo married Lucia, when Leopardi admired the infinite… because literature is backwards immortality.” And literature also challenges the future, at least in terms of the finiteness of human life, because reading and writing allows a story to continue living even beyond the lifespans of narrators and characters – because reading and writing create memories, broaden the mind, weave tales.

Basically, reading is just like playing a fabulous game.

This is why implementing and supporting initiatives that make books come to life in the hands of children is important: it gets them into the habit of reading from an early age, combining the pleasure of literature with the various digital activities that captivate the younger generations.

This is also why the Campiello Foundation and the Pirelli libraries are launching the Campiello Junior Prize, a literary award dedicated to books written for children aged 10 to 14 years. The three finalists were selected on 10 December in Milan, out of about 90 nominated books, of which about 40 were submitted to the jury chaired by author Roberto Piumini and including Chiara Lagani, Martino Negri, Michela Possamai and David Tolin. The three contenders are Un pinguino a Trieste (A penguin in Trieste) by Chiara Carminati (Bompiani), La scatola dei sogni (The dream box) by Guido Quarzo and Anna Vivarelli (Editoriale Scienza) and Questa notte non torno (I won’t come back tonight) by Antonella Sbuelz (Feltrinelli). The winner will be chosen by a popular jury (as per the historical rules of the Campiello Prize) including 160 elementary and secondary school children from all over Italy.

Enrico Carraro, president of the Campiello Prize and of Confindustria Veneto, asserts that, “Together with the Pirelli Foundation, we have established this prize to promote, once more, literary talent, and to propagate reading among children. This is a new project that reaffirms the commitment of Veneto entrepreneurs towards cultural activities and, as such, the development of the country.” And, adds the Pirelli Foundation, “we support the Campiello Junior Prize in order to stimulate the writing of children’s books, which are tools to enhance the pleasures of discovery, knowledge, quality of life. And it’s one more initiative, among the many we launched throughout our history, aimed at enhancing company libraries, the dissemination of culture, the nurturing of a ‘book culture’ as a crucial part of responsible citizenship from an early age.”

This, then, confirms the notion – developed over time and gaining new strength today, and concerning the north-east of Italy and Milan – that doing business means to focus on knowledge, and thus on the quality of what we read and write. And the new generations should be involved in this process, which blends the pleasure of reading with a growth of cultural awareness – which turns reading into a literary adventure game through which the many dimensions of fiction and history, poetry and science, can be explored.

Indeed, doing business – especially in Italy – means taking into consideration the dimensions of memory and innovation, of a “politechnic culture” that combines humanities with sciences, philosophy with technological evolution, invention with actual discovery, creativity with an attitude bent on developing a new economic and social balance, to build a new, better narrative for Italy that relies on the country’s aptitude for “creating beautiful things that the whole world enjoys” (which is what characterises the so-called Made in Italy).

In fact, narratives make us learn, grow, have fun. Through narratives we can lay a stronger foundation to attain a solid, deep-seated civic culture, a proper community – this is what “industrial humanism” is, and good books are an essential part of it.

Roberto Piumini, prolific writer of children’s books and chair of the Campiello Junior Prize jury, adds some further significant thoughts: “Those who write for children, who publish children’s books, who promote or reward children’s literature, achieve something that’s much more complex, praiseworthy and even riskier than in other kinds of writing, publishing and promotion, because they’re not attempting to convey existential, cultural or emotional concepts that readers will remember and that will become part of their literary taste; rather, they’re teaching children to express themselves, to learn a cognitive and emotional language: their own language, in the most substantial yet delicate anthropological sense. Writing, publishing, promoting children’s fiction means to supply ways to learn, feel, establish one’s identity, develop imagination and purpose. This is not achieved, as in past literary works, through illustrative examples and role models, or through wise yet threatening admonitions, but through a rich, playful language that, with creativity and dynamism, invites children to enjoy variety and all that the world has to offer.”

Piumini also hints at the kind of direction that the Campiello Junior Prize might take in the future: “This notion of providing a kind of language that is not exclusive to an individual literary experience but also pertains to how we communicate socially, lead us to believe that a prize such as this should extend to other forms of fiction, such as narrative poetry and playwriting. Although not very widespread on the publishing scene as yet, considering the audience they appeal to and their verbal and social nature, they would be the perfect counterparts to written fiction.”

An intriguing idea that corroborates Eco’s words and could lead to children “living other lives, other worlds” through novels, poetry and theatre, as early as possible.

Let’s reiterate, once again, how enjoyable and important reading is, by recalling a famous quote by Umberto Eco: “At the age of 70, those who don’t read will have led only one life – their own! Those who read will have lived five thousand years: they were there when Cain killed Abel, when Renzo married Lucia, when Leopardi admired the infinite… because literature is backwards immortality.” And literature also challenges the future, at least in terms of the finiteness of human life, because reading and writing allows a story to continue living even beyond the lifespans of narrators and characters – because reading and writing create memories, broaden the mind, weave tales.

Basically, reading is just like playing a fabulous game.

This is why implementing and supporting initiatives that make books come to life in the hands of children is important: it gets them into the habit of reading from an early age, combining the pleasure of literature with the various digital activities that captivate the younger generations.

This is also why the Campiello Foundation and the Pirelli libraries are launching the Campiello Junior Prize, a literary award dedicated to books written for children aged 10 to 14 years. The three finalists were selected on 10 December in Milan, out of about 90 nominated books, of which about 40 were submitted to the jury chaired by author Roberto Piumini and including Chiara Lagani, Martino Negri, Michela Possamai and David Tolin. The three contenders are Un pinguino a Trieste (A penguin in Trieste) by Chiara Carminati (Bompiani), La scatola dei sogni (The dream box) by Guido Quarzo and Anna Vivarelli (Editoriale Scienza) and Questa notte non torno (I won’t come back tonight) by Antonella Sbuelz (Feltrinelli). The winner will be chosen by a popular jury (as per the historical rules of the Campiello Prize) including 160 elementary and secondary school children from all over Italy.

Enrico Carraro, president of the Campiello Prize and of Confindustria Veneto, asserts that, “Together with the Pirelli Foundation, we have established this prize to promote, once more, literary talent, and to propagate reading among children. This is a new project that reaffirms the commitment of Veneto entrepreneurs towards cultural activities and, as such, the development of the country.” And, adds the Pirelli Foundation, “we support the Campiello Junior Prize in order to stimulate the writing of children’s books, which are tools to enhance the pleasures of discovery, knowledge, quality of life. And it’s one more initiative, among the many we launched throughout our history, aimed at enhancing company libraries, the dissemination of culture, the nurturing of a ‘book culture’ as a crucial part of responsible citizenship from an early age.”

This, then, confirms the notion – developed over time and gaining new strength today, and concerning the north-east of Italy and Milan – that doing business means to focus on knowledge, and thus on the quality of what we read and write. And the new generations should be involved in this process, which blends the pleasure of reading with a growth of cultural awareness – which turns reading into a literary adventure game through which the many dimensions of fiction and history, poetry and science, can be explored.

Indeed, doing business – especially in Italy – means taking into consideration the dimensions of memory and innovation, of a “politechnic culture” that combines humanities with sciences, philosophy with technological evolution, invention with actual discovery, creativity with an attitude bent on developing a new economic and social balance, to build a new, better narrative for Italy that relies on the country’s aptitude for “creating beautiful things that the whole world enjoys” (which is what characterises the so-called Made in Italy).

In fact, narratives make us learn, grow, have fun. Through narratives we can lay a stronger foundation to attain a solid, deep-seated civic culture, a proper community – this is what “industrial humanism” is, and good books are an essential part of it.

Roberto Piumini, prolific writer of children’s books and chair of the Campiello Junior Prize jury, adds some further significant thoughts: “Those who write for children, who publish children’s books, who promote or reward children’s literature, achieve something that’s much more complex, praiseworthy and even riskier than in other kinds of writing, publishing and promotion, because they’re not attempting to convey existential, cultural or emotional concepts that readers will remember and that will become part of their literary taste; rather, they’re teaching children to express themselves, to learn a cognitive and emotional language: their own language, in the most substantial yet delicate anthropological sense. Writing, publishing, promoting children’s fiction means to supply ways to learn, feel, establish one’s identity, develop imagination and purpose. This is not achieved, as in past literary works, through illustrative examples and role models, or through wise yet threatening admonitions, but through a rich, playful language that, with creativity and dynamism, invites children to enjoy variety and all that the world has to offer.”

Piumini also hints at the kind of direction that the Campiello Junior Prize might take in the future: “This notion of providing a kind of language that is not exclusive to an individual literary experience but also pertains to how we communicate socially, lead us to believe that a prize such as this should extend to other forms of fiction, such as narrative poetry and playwriting. Although not very widespread on the publishing scene as yet, considering the audience they appeal to and their verbal and social nature, they would be the perfect counterparts to written fiction.”

An intriguing idea that corroborates Eco’s words and could lead to children “living other lives, other worlds” through novels, poetry and theatre, as early as possible.