Publishing house Kreativni centar this year celebrates three decades since the publication of their first book, a significant jubilee in both local and global terms, especially considering the quality of the editions (content, technical equipment, print) that are designed for children, parents and teachers, the number of titles – about 1300, and the fact that most of these titles are the work of domestic authors.
What makes this publishing house different compared to other publishers for children is a large number of prizes and awards that were given to their editions – there were 25 Neven prizes, four awards given by Politikin zabavnik, seven Belgrade Book Fair awards for the best children’s book, three awards for the publisher of the year, seven awards for the best European textbook at the Book Fair in Frankfurt …
With the director of Kreativni centar, Ljiljana Marinkovic, we are talking about how it all began, the importance of children and young adults literature, anniversary and plans for the next 30 years.
“Everything started as an author’s project of my father Simeon Marinkovic. His idea was to encourage children’s creativity and artistry from an early age, so he translated that idea into a series of picture books about the animals named Zapce (Frog). These picture books, which he began publishing in 1989, contained, in addition to poems and stories, a multitude of entertaining and stimulating tasks for children and parents. Since these picture books were well received, my father continued with a series of workbooks intended for preschoolers, and they were different from the entire educational material available at the time, “recalled LJiljana Marinkovic.
She added that the beginnings were modest, but that readers’ reactions were encouraging, which was a great incentive for everyone to continue. Four years later, with 30 published books, Kreativni centar (Creative Center) was founded, named because the idea and vision were to make this publishing house the gathering center of creative people working for children.
Three decades later, “we continue to believe that creativity should be encouraged since the early age, that each book should foster ideas of tolerance, good communication, noble relationships between people and towards nature, that parents, educators, and teachers should be provided with quality literature that will help them navigate through modern education, “she said.
The principle of selecting books for publishing is still the same today – books are evaluated first of all on the basis of how many positive emotions they cause, because children are future readers and this publisher’s desire is to offer them the books “which stir emotions, which are witty, perfect in aesthetic and linguistic sense, which will develop children’s creative potentials, tolerance, broader views of the world.”
When it comes to young adults, Marinkovic says that the situation is a little different, since it is not that easy to win the attention of young people in a digital world, but that Kreativni centar is trying to offer young readers books they can recognize as their own, that speak of their experiences, through which they are addressed by someone who understands their world and which can be a sort of a map for growing up.
For seven-year-olds, Marinkovic recommends Pustolovina (Adventure) edition that arouses imagination and calls for adventures. For the 10-year-olds there’s the edition of best novels for children from around the world Svet je jedan (There’s only one world). For the tricky thirteen-year-olds the best books are those that interpret society, such as the book Furam feminizam (I dig feminism) and Ovaj svet moze da bude bolji (This world can be better),while sixteen-year-old readers might like the Tranzit (Transit) edition, with novels that give answers to questions that young people ask themselves.
From the very beginning, Kreativni centar recognized the importance of educating teachers and parents and continues with this mission because the role of parents, educators, and teachers in attracting a child to a book is enormous, and the guidelines and support are always welcome.
“Even in the early picture books, we tried to activate parents by giving them ideas for various questions that they can ask the children while reading to them. Soon we realized that parents needed even more support, so we started publishing manuals of different parenting styles, that were widely accepted. We did the same for teachers – today we have a large number of modern methodological manuals that help teachers in everyday work. One of the topics that the authors of these handbooks deal with is the encouragement of reading because that is something that must be systematically worked on from the earliest age. It is a great skill to choose a good book for a child and make him return to it. Also, adults need to know how to turn reading into a productive conversation about a book, how to activate a child, how to turn that time spent with a book into a pleasant and useful experience, “said Marinkovic.
The thirty years since the publication of their first book will not a one-time celebration but a whole series of activities throughout the year. “Everything will be in a sign of cooperation with young designers, illustrators, writers, translators, editors, who we will educate to work on children’s books and give an opportunity for cooperation. We just organized a competition for an author’s picture book for authors by the age of 30.”
“The great event will be a retrospective exhibition by Bob Zivkovic, who has done nearly 120 books for us so far, and he also devised a visual identity of the Evo dobre knjige – 30 kreativnih godina (Here’s a good book – 30 creative years) campaign for our anniversary. The exhibition will be held in autumn at the Museum of Applied Arts in Belgrade,” announced Marinkovic.
When asked about their plans for the next 30 years, with a smile she says the plan is to continue to last. “My plan is to bring together as many young people as possible because they are the one who will lead us into the future,” concluded Ljiljana Marinkovic.