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“We want more books for all children”

Interview with Eleni Geroulanou



Eleni Geroulanou, an educator and children’s writer from Athens, Greece, has dedicated her career to fostering in children the value of giving and the love of reading, as well as helping them appreciate all the joy and knowledge that can be found in museums.


She is also a founding member of the non-profit organization “Library4all’, which was nominated three times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) from the Greek section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).


“Library4all’s aim is to foster the love of reading in children by collecting and sending books to libraries of kindergartens and primary schools across Greece. ‘More books for all children’ is the basic principle of Library4all, as it perfectly summarises our Philosophy,” Eleni Geroulanou said, speaking ahead of her appearance at the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival.


“We believe that the children’s regular exposure to books, especially in the school environment where they spend most of their time, is conducive to the development of their reading and writing capabilities,” she said.


“The role of Library4all revolves around gathering information about what schools across the whole country need, and then helping them create a library from scratch, or grow their existing collection of books. The books we send to schools are either brand-new or in excellent condition and come from donations by individuals, writers, publishing houses, businesses, and non-governmental organizations. By doing so, Library4all strives to raise public awareness on the value of books and helps teachers who rely heavily on having the necessary educational materials in order to be their best selves as educators within the classroom. Since 2013, Library4all has offered more than 320,000 books to 3,700 kindergarten and primary school libraries across Greece.”


Ms Geroulanou’s own indepth and focused education set her off on the path to being a successful writer and educator.


“I studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Athens and subsequently specialized in Children’s Museum Education for K-8 at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, in the United States. In 1986 I was recruited at the Moraitis School, a private School in Athens, where I started implementing Museum Education programs in the Kindergarten Class, and in the year 2000, I was appointed Head of the Kindergarten.”


Her books are celebrated in Greece and in many countries beyond, with titles such as Once Upon a Bear published in China by Hebei Children’s Publishing House.


In Once Upon a Bear, the bear wanders around the city looking for his home. On his journey, he meets a sailor, six ducks, a fox, a hedgehog, a troupe of actors, and a dog. All of them want to help him. Will he succeed?


Through the plot of a gentle fairytale, the book presents in an inventive way more than 240 toys from Maria Argyriadi’s collection at the Benaki Toy Museum in Palaio Faliro. During the whole book, the bear is drawn. He only comes alive when he finally discovers the home he was looking for. Once Upon a Bear is illustrated by Iris Samartzi, the Greek illustrator nominee for the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award.


“The book is based on the true story of a very special woman called Maria Argyriadi who found near a dumpster a small teddy bear that reminded her of the one she had when she was a little girl. She picked it up and from that day, she started collecting toys from all over the world. Her toy collection is one of the biggest in Europe and she donated it to the Benaki Museum in Athens, one of the most renowned museums in Greece. Getting to know Maria and her love of toys truly inspired me to write this story, the teddy bear’s story,” Ms Geroulanou said.


“I have also written several other books, including Nikiforos Discovers Emotions with the help of Cycladic Figurines, based on exhibits from the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, The Benaki Museum ABC, based on the Museum’s collection, Discovering Numbers at the National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, as well as two textbooks used in classrooms nationwide,” she added.


At the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival Eleni Geroulanou will join Lithuanian author Evelina Daciūtė and Chinese writer Lan Lan (China) in a discussion entitled “Enchanting, Enriching, Engaging – Exploring the World of Children’s Literature”. These three leading proponents of the form will delve into the varied and deceptively complex area of children’s literature and discuss the challenges and joys involved in engaging children from a young age in the magical world of books.