Lecture meeting “Philosophizing is just part of my nature” by Mr. Wally De Doncker held on May 26, 2018


The International Library of Children’s Literature (ILCL) of the National Diet Library (NDL) held a lecture meeting titled “Philosophizing is just part of my nature” by Mr. Wally De Doncker, current president of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and Belgic children’s books author, on May 26, 2018.

Before Mr. De Doncker’s lecture, Ms. Etsuko Nozaka, Dutch children’s books translator, introduced an overview of the history and current situation of children’s books in the Flanders region of Belgium.

After Ms. Nozaka’s introduction, Mr. De Doncker started his lecture. He spoke about his life as an “activist” for social reforms such as gender equality. He started his career as a teacher and tried to promote children’s reading, and then began to write children’s books, which have now grown more popular around the world. After he joined the Dutch Section of the IBBY, he met with many people who were involved in children’s books through various activities. He said the interaction and activities at the IBBY gave him a way to look beyond the horizons of his own country, which was necessary for him as a children’s books author.

He also told about his way of “philosophizing” through his life. He introduced several children’s novels he wrote with philosophical elements, which have been translated and published in many countries. He also showed some trailers of movies and animations inspired by his novels. Diverse and impressive responses to his works from both children and adults were also introduced.

He ended his lecture with the question: “If you hadn’t been born and were not here, what kind of world would it be without you?” This question is the theme of his book “Ik mis me” (I miss myself), which he sometimes asked to children during author visits. He asked for the audience to remind themselves of this question again before going to sleep at night.

The lecture was a very valuable opportunity for the Japanese audience to see the potential of children’s books. All participants responded positively on a survey about the lecture, with 100% indicating overall satisfaction. Examples of feedback from the audience were: “It made me think about the power of ‘questions’ and ‘thinking’;” “Simple but deep philosophical questions made me reconsider about myself;” “He taught us the value of different children’s books with a fresh point of view.”

(2018.8.1 update)