In response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa, IBBY International launched the project “Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back” in 2012. The project involved creating the first library on Lampedusa to be used by local and immigrant children. The second part required creating a collection of wordless picture books that could be understood and enjoyed by children regardless of language.
Following the success of the first call for books, there has since been two additional collections of ‘Silent Books’. Each collection is divided into three sets; one set delivered to the library on Lampedusa, another deposited at the documentation and research archive in Rome (Palazzo della Esposizioni) and the last set forms part of a travelling exhibition of wordless picture books. This third set has toured as an exhibition at various venues in Italy and all over the world, as well as being displayed at the Bologna Book Fair and at the IBBY Congresses in New Zealand and Greece.
In July of 2018 IBBY Italia raised another call for submissions and thanks to generous donations from local literacy organisations, Collaborate and Book Dash, IBBY South Africa was able to facilitate the donation of a number of locally produced wordless children’s picture books to this worthy cause.