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Palestinian Group Wins Top Literary Prize

A Palestinian group that promotes reading in Gaza and the West Bank has won a Swedish literature award worth more than $600,000.

The Tamer Institute for Community Education will receive this year's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award June 2 in Stockholm. The award honors the children's author who created the character Pippi Longstocking. Organizers say it is the world's largest prize for children's and young people's literature.

In a statement Tuesday announcing the 2009 winner, organizers said the Tamer Institute carries out the promotion of reading with "unusual breadth and versatility" under difficult circumstances.

The independent non-profit is based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The organization was created in 1989 during the first Palestinian uprising. Its programs aim to promote reading and writing among Palestinians, as well as the development of children's literature, self-expression and youth empowerment.

The Swedish award group says that "in the spirit of Astrid Lindgren," the Tamer Institute acknowledges "the strength of books, stories and imagination as important keys to self-esteem, tolerance and the courage to face life."

Sweden's government created the Lindgren award after the author's death in 2002. It is given to writers, illustrators, story-tellers and organizations that promote reading.

The Tamer Institute has been nominated for the award every year since 2004.