ATHENS--Children's author Eiko Kadono recounted how books helped her during the darkest days of World War II as she received a certificate and medal on Aug. 31 for winning this year's Hans Christian Andersen Author Award.

At the awards ceremony here, Kadono reflected on when she was 10, a time when Japan was still fighting the war.

"I cannot express the extent to which books comforted me and gave me the courage to go on living during an extremely harsh period," said Kadono, 83. "Tales become the stories for each person who reads them and serve as the dictionary of words for that person. Imagination emerges from that dictionary, spreads to other people in the world and saves us even during trying times."

The author of such children's works as "Majo no Takkyubin" (Kiki's Delivery Service) is the third Japanese to win what has often been called the Nobel Prize for children's literature. Past Japanese winners have been Michio Mado in 1994 and Nahoko Uehashi in 2014.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award winners are chosen once every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).

Since her debut in 1970, Kadono has written more than 200 works, including Kiki's Delivery Service. She has also translated many works abroad into Japanese.

In selecting her as this year's Author Award winner, the IBBY said, "Her female characters are singularly self-determining and enterprising, figuring out how to cope with all kinds of complications without suffering too many self-doubts. They are perfect for this time when we are seeking girls and women in books who can inspire and delight us."