Art And Culture

Apathy to National Children’s Literature Day

Apathy to National Children’s Literature DayApathy to National Children’s Literature Day

The national day of children and young adults’ literature held annually on July 8, should as a rule, remind the public of the importance of children’s literature, and not just be an ordinary ‘title day’ in the calendar.

Accordingly, competent officials and organizations such as the mass media, municipalities and the Association of Iranian Writers for Children and Young Adults, are expected to plan special programs, Mehr News Agency reported.

However, no special event marked the day, which is a tribute to the late Mehdi Azar-Yazdi, noted author of children’s books. Even the project to establish a foundation in the name of Yazdi, which commenced six years ago, on his first death anniversary, has been left unfinished. Writers of children’s books are unanimous in agreeing that Yazdi was the founder of children’s literature.

Earlier, Mostafa Rahmandoost, poet, author, teacher and translator of children and young adults’ literature had suggested that state broadcaster, IRIB, host special programs and the municipalities hold book exhibitions with special discounts at culture houses and parks. “TV characters, loved by children, can be invited to perform programs.”

He said the low rate of reading in Iran is the reason why people and officials are apathetic. “Lack of efficient thinkers and programmers in children’s literature, has resulted in a lackadaisical attitude.”

 Early Years

Born in 1921 in Yazd Province, Yazdi learned to read and write from his father and later continued his studies on his own. In 1944, he came to live in Tehran.

Yazdi initially worked as laborer at a construction site and in sock-weaving workshops. Later, he worked at publishing houses and bookshops, including noted ones like Amir Kabir, Ashrafi and Etella’at.

He started writing books for children in 1956. He wrote seven books, each adapted from classical Persian literature and re-written for children in an easy-to-understand style.

His most famous work is ‘Good Stories for Good Children’, which won the UNESCO Prize in 1966 and was regarded as the best book of the year in 1967. In addition, another of his books ‘Adam’ was chosen as the best book of the year in 1968.

‘Good Stories for Good Children’ was written in eight volumes based on the great works of Persian literature like ‘Golistan’ (The Rose Garden), one of two major works of Persian poet Sa’di, ‘Masnavi-e Manavi’, an extensive poem written in Persian by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi, ‘Marzban-Nameh’, an early 13th-century prose work in Persian and some stories from the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his household.

He was also author of ‘The Naughty Cat’, ‘The Playful Cat’, ‘Simple Stories’, ‘Poetry of Sugar and Honey’ and ‘Masnavi of Good Children’.

Yazdi is survived by his adopted son Mohammad Saburi. In 1949, he came upon a weeping eight-year-old Mohammad who was rejected by the owner of a store, and took him under his wings. Saburi is employed at a photography house in Yazd where Yazdi used to work.

Yazdi died in 2009 after a period of illness in a Tehran hospital. He is buried in his hometown.