I thought I would tell you about the Celebration Event that we had last week for the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. This was held at the Ricoh Arena with thanks to the Wasps Rugby Club whose sponsorship makes this possible. It is a great afternoon when the schools who have taken part get to meet the winning authors. and illustrators and present them with their awards. There are 5 categories, each starting off with 8 shortlisted books that get whittled down week by week as the books with the least votes get knocked out until we have our winner. What's the Story (ages 4-7) was won by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins for the hilarious picture book Baby’s first Bank Heist. Telling Tales (ages 7-9) was won by the brilliantly comic Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith. Next was out transition category, Hooked on Books (ages 9-12), which crosses over from the top end of Primary into the first couple of years of Secondary was won by the fantastic House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson. Our final 2 categories are for Secondary Schools only with the winner of the Simply the Book category (13+) being the amazing Sycthe by Neal Shusterman. lthough Neal couldn’t be here for the celebration event as he lives in America many of our students were lucky enough to meet him back in December when he came to Coventry as part of a very short UK visit. Our final category is for all those teenagers who are short on time, Rapid Reads, quick read books for ages 11-16. This was won by Ann Evans for her scary book A Little Secret. It was a brilliant afternoon with a wonderful buzz of excitement and enthusiasm as a room full of students of all ages talked about their favourite books and checked out new recommendations.
It is hard work running the book awards on top of all our usual School Library Service work and we have already announced out shortlists for next year so it is a year round operation! However, it is all worth it when you read the comments left by the students at the Celebration Event. Here are a couple of my favourites; “Every Book was amazing and has inspired me to read”, “I loved this event and look forward to more in other years” and “The Book Awards has drawn me more into reading”. As children's librarians it is important to remember that what we do is important and can have a real impact on children's lives so we should shout about it more often and loudly. If you are lucky enough to have a local children's book awards then find out how you can get involved as together with National Book Awards like the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals they are a wonderful way of introducing children and young people to a wide range of wonderful books which they might not come across on their own. By doing so you increase the chances of them finding the book that speaks to them and switches them on to reading with pleasure. This is how you help to create lifelong readers which is something all librarians aspire to.
Posted By Jacob Hope,
06 July 2019
Updated: 06 July 2019
The Slovene Book Fair was eye-opening, it was incredible to see the levels of engagement and enthusiasm it generated among the public with schools, families and individuals attending to hear talks, meet with authors, peruse exhibitions of illustration and buy books. Slovenia was under a Socialist regime as part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Books and the arts played a key role in helping to preserve the national identity of the country and it feels there remains a great sense of pride and loyalty towards books. Despite this there are concerns about the future. The proportion of books published from the United Kingdom, combined with other media in spoken and written English leads to anxieties about the long-term impact on the Slovene language.
Alongside public engagement, one of the notable elements was the support mainstream media gave to the events with television and radio both present. Sessions provoked lively discussion and attendance and involvement from publishing students meant there were clear succession lines for the industry contributing to an impressively well-structured and sustainable base for the countries publishing and book trades.
The talk I was involved with looked at the role of criteria in book awards, how those are articulated and applied and the impact these have in terms of selection of books. As well as exploring some of the major children's book awards in the UK - the Costa, the Blue Peter, the Federation of Children's Book Groups and the proliferation of regional book awards that take place across the country and are aimed at empowering young people through enabling them a platform for their views and a vote.
Looking at the CILIP Carnegie medal gave pause for thought and the opportunity to think back to the Library Association review of children's literature in 1932 which described 'a few admirable books, submerged in an ocean of trash.' The medals were set up to lobby for change.
During the trip to Ljubljana, an interview took place with a publishing student. One of their questions was what differentiates the CILIP Carnegie Medal. It's a question that has led to much reflection. One of the many answers is the transparency of its processes and criteria. Following on from the Diversity Review for the awards which happened in 2018, this is something that is being evaluated with thanks to the University of Central Lancashire. As one of the last public speaking engagements for 2018, talking at the Slovene Book Fair served was a genuinely upbeat, inspiring and uplifting occasion and one that has certainly given considerable food for thought around the role of book awards and their increased relevance as part of an array of models for recommending and profiling books, stories and information. It was fascinating to be part of the Fair and learn more about how Slovenia's award works and the impact that criteria has upon selection.
Posted By Jacob Hope,
08 June 2019
Updated: 08 June 2019
Founded in 1980 by national children's reading charity, the Federation of Children's Book Groups, the Children's Book Award is now in its 39th Year. It is the only National UK Children's Book Award to be voted for entirely by children. Each year an impressive 150,000+ votes are cast, involving nearly 250 schools across the UK.
The winneers have been announced today at a special awards ceremony and Arree Chung's Mixed, a book exploring colour, tolerance and embracing difference has come first. Aree won the Books for Younger Children before winning the overall prize this year. Commenting on his win Arree said, 'It touches me to know that the message of diversity, acceptance and love has resonated with the harts of the youth in the UK. The world indeed is a colourful blend of people and culture.'
Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer has won the Older Reader category and The Dog Who Lost His Bark, written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by PJ Lynch is named the Books for Younger Readers Category winner.
Congratulations to all of the winners and to the Federation of Children's Book Groups for a superb initiative.
Wow this year is really flying by. I can’t believe it’s May already and we have had the fifth meeting of the Reading Rebels. Reading rebels are a tween book group that meet the second Friday of each month in Ystrad Mynach Library (South Wales). The group consists of four girls, two from the local English medium high school and two from the local Welsh medium school. I am pleased to say they all get on well and sometimes it’s hard to get a word in as they are so eager to discuss the books they are reading as well as what they have been up to in school that day. They all love reading different books and I normally take along proof copies I have received from publishers. They love looking through the choices. The one book they did all read and enjoy was Storm Witch by Ellen Renner. They are not so keen on writing reviews though so I suggested making a collage of the books they have been reading. It is not completed yet otherwise I would have included a picture. At the last meeting we looked at the short list for the CILIP Kate Greenaway award and they were amazed by the illustrations which they hadn’t previously thought about. For their next meeting they requested a book quiz so that is my homework sorted for a while. I’ve been told not to make it too difficult and choose questions about books they have read. We’ll see about that. It wasn’t a group I set up but when a member of staff took retirement I stepped in. I had never run a teenage reading group before and I was a bit apprehensive but it’s the best thing I have done in a long while. They are so enthusiastic about books and reading it is a pleasure to be part of it.
This spring half day training session run by the YLG Eastern group takes place on March 22nd 2019 at Bury St Edmunds Library and will examine some of the reasons children and teens turn away from books and how we can address this issue as librarians, teachers and advocates for reading.
Special guests are:
Popular author Bali Rai is never afraid to tackle difficult, contemporary and controversial issues in his vast range of books for children and young people. He has written extensively for dyslexia-friendly publishers of books for reluctant readers, Barrington Stoke and also Penguin Random House. An enthusiastic advocate for libraries, he is also a powerful voice in the area of gaining diversity in children’s and YA publishing, posing the question ; if children and young people cannot see themselves represented in books, how can they engage with the world of fiction?
School librarian of the year 2016 and Corby Business Academy’s librarian, Amy McKay’s passion for books, libraries and reading shines through as soon as she addresses a room. She describes herself as a “stealth librarian” luring her readers in to the library with innovative clubs and activities and using her natural rapport to gradually introduce them to the world of books. She believes that the best school libraries are “fun friendly and vibrant.” She has gained the support of senior management who have seen her narrow the gender gap in school and engage students who struggle with either literacy or motivation. She will look at practical ideas to re-engage students with the world of books.
There will also be a Barrington Stoke book sale. It looks like it will be a splendid & inspiring afternoon.
Posted By Jacob Hope,
28 November 2018
Updated: 28 November 2018
The Youth Libraries Group is delighted to develop a relationship with LoveReading. It's LoveReading's mission to get more people reading by exciting and enthusing them about the best books. LoveReading4Schools is a critical part of this and one they take very seriously. As a community they believe they have a social responsibility to support time-strapped teachers and librarians in schools to help engender a life-long love of learning and students.
To this end, LoveReading are re-launching LoveReading4Schools this December and have an exciting opportunity for anyone interesting in becoming a Librarian Reviewer for them. The new website comes with tons of added functionality and will have a fully updated set of reading recommendation lists for every year group from Early Years to YA books. In addition, they will be regularly publishing other lists of great relevance and importance for schools today including lists of Inspirational Books, Cultural Books, Reluctant Readers Recommendations and Mental Health and Wellbeing.
LoveReading’s job is one of curation, presenting a selected list of regular reading recommendations for their audiences. These selections are delivered by the team of editorial experts and are complemented by their consumer reading review panels.
This partnership will now include us working with them to help recruit a Librarian Panel of Reviewers. This panel will work with LoveReading to review books supplied by publishers, with the aim of them then choosing Librarian’s Books of the Month.
If you are a current YLG member and interested in becoming part of their panel, you can sign up here.
Children’s author Sean Taylor will be appearing, with Eleanor Martin of Khayaal Theatre, at the YLG Conference in September. Here he introduces RIDING A DONKEY BACKWARDS – wise and foolish tales of Mulla Nasruddin, a collection of traditional Islamic tales, full of riddles, humour and wisdom.
You’ll have to excuse me. This is a story that is likely to offend you…
At a wedding, a few months ago, I got into a conversation with a young man who sees the world very differently to me. His hero is Jacob Rees-Mogg. The young man said, “Do you want to know what I think about burqas? People are surprised that I have nothing against Muslim women wearing them. In fact, I’m all in favour of burqas…for ugly people. Do you agree with that?”
I told him I didn’t agree. The young man was slightly apologetic for his arrogant ‘joke’. “Sorry. I’m just being facetious…” he told me. But I didn’t leave it at that. I asked, “What’s behind what you’ve just said? What do you actually think about Muslims and their beliefs?” He said, “I’m really not bothered by them. But Islam, as a religion, always takes itself far too seriously. And I can’t stand people who can’t laugh at themselves.” I asked, “Have you ever heard of Mulla Nasruddin?”
Nasruddin is the hero of our book, RIDING A DONKEY BACKWARDS. It was a collaborative writing project, with Khayaal Theatre, several years in the making. And it came about as a direct result of a terror attack. (You can find the full story here: http://www.minervareads.com/riding-a-donkey-backwards/ )
In the introduction to our book, we say: He has many names because stories about him are told in many different countries. In Turkey he is Hodja. In Central Asia he is Afandi. The Arabs know him as Joha. Others call him Mulla Nasruddin. He is a trickster. And Muslims all over the world love him because he makes them laugh… If he doesn’t make you laugh, he will certainly make you think – and perhaps think sideways instead of straight ahead. He may even make your thoughts do somersaults inside your mind!
That last sentence feels key to what’s special about Nasruddin stories, and also key to what made us want to put together a collection of these stories for young readers. Human beings love having their thinking ‘spun around’. It’s one of the commonest forms of humour . (A boy tells his father, “Dad, there’s an invisible man at the door.” His father says, “Tell him I can’t see him at the moment.”) The 21 Nasruddin tales we retell will get you laughing because they spin your thoughts around. But we wrote them down because we’d like to go beyond that.
Islamophobia is a growing problem in the UK and beyond. People are often persuaded that Muslims are aggressive, fanatical and narrow-minded. Co-authors, Khayaal Theatre, have long worked to remind people of the traditions of poetry, wisdom, questioning and humour in Muslim cultures. RIDING A DONKEY BACKWARDS is a part of that work. We hope that the book itself will do some ‘spinning around’ of people’s thinking. We’d like it to show readers that Islam is not, to quote the young man mentioned above, “a religion, that always takes itself far too seriously.”
The Youth Libraries Group are delighted to be extending our Early Bird offer for the YLG National Conference 2018 “Reading the Future”.
Numerous people have expressed interest in attending but have stated that extra time would aid employer decisions. Professional development is a key part of maintaining knowledge and awareness offering a chance to engage with up to date research, changes in cultural context and current best practice. The deadline for the Early Bird offer has been extended until 15 July. We are keen to provide some rationale for attending conference, whether this be as a day delegate or on a full place.
• Conference this year is focused explicitly around reading - one of the six universal offers for libraries decided by the Society of Chief Librarians, policy and agenda setters for libraries across the United Kingdom
• Latest research from key organisations and agencies including BookTrust and the National Literacy Trust
• Networking opportunities with publishers and the opportunity to pitch for author visits, proof copies of books for reading groups
• *It is worth noting that average daily rates reported by the Society of Authors are between £400 and £500 for an author, this means one successful pitch for an author to a publisher - (which would also include the authors travel and accommodation), would more than recoup the entire cost of conference. Conference gives direct access to a host of publishers and the opportunity to build strong partnerships.
• Showcase of forthcoming titles to aid programming and planning and receipt of publicity materials (tote bags, book marks, badges and more!), copies of new books at no charge
• Chance to share best practice with other professionals across the United Kingdom
• Key part of continuing professional development offered by the Youth Libraries Group, the special interest group for the Professional Body for librarian and information professionals
• Opportunity to showcase best practice from authority and to learn about existing best practice in other authorities and regions so as to replicate existing and proven frameworks for quality and cost-effective service delivery
• Engage with relevant creative provider - app producers, BBC, Gerry Andersen entertainment - to explore models of engagement and hooks to attract non-users
• Receive in-kind materials including book proofs, advanced reader copies, bookmarks, posters and other related point-of-sale
• Actively highlight role of in supporting and maintaining awareness of the UK's oldest and most prestigious children's book awards, the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the profession's flagship awards.
• Maintain links with the Youth Libraries Group, one of the leading training and development bodies for librarians working with children and young people in the United Kingdom
Youth Libraries Group South East and South West held a joint training day called Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Books and Libraries at The Curve in Slough on Friday June 8, 2018
Our objectives for the day were to achieve the following:
• To increase understanding of issues around diversity and inclusion in children’s books, and why they matter
• To consider how we, as library staff, can support and promote diversity and inclusion in children’s books and in our libraries
• To showcase examples of diverse and inclusive children’s books
• To provide opportunities for discussion and sharing good practice
Many thanks to everyone who attended our training day with YLG South West and a special thanks to Slough Libraries The Curve - Slough for hosting & the library tour.
The amazing Tales on Moon Lane for selling a selection of the inclusive and diverse books on the day.
We had fantastic talks provided by:
Alexandra Strick from Inclusive Minds
Storyteller and Author Chitra Soundar
Caroline Scott from Empathy Lab
Anna McQuinn from Alanna Books
Poet and Author A F Harrold
Thanks to Jake Hope, Slough Libraries and West Sussex Libraries for sharing an insight into their diversity and inclusivity work they have been doing.