Patsy Aldana, the publisher of Groundwood Books, was named a member of the Order of Canada last week.
A native of Guatemala, Aldana came to Canada in 1971 and started Groundwood (which was acquired by House of Anansi Press in 2005) seven years later. The past president of the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY), Aldana has published authors such as Deborah Ellis, Anne Laurel Carter, and Marie-Louise Gay. Throughout her career, she has been a tireless advocate for children’s literacy and children’s literature.
Each child, Ms. Aldana says, should have access to books that are right for him or her. She is distressed that, in Ontario surveys, children and teenagers report that they are getting less pleasure from books than they used to. She blames that on an education system that in her view puts too much emphasis on literacy as a skill for future workers, and not enough emphasis on reading pleasure. Reading talks to you about who you are, or it tells you something about who the other is. So they’re windows and mirrors. And it’s essential to becoming a free person in a democratic society. If you become a reader, you have a chance to become a critical thinker, to be a person who has some power over your life.