A book award with a difference – Trinity Schools Book Award

The Trinity Schools Book Award was originally set up for a group of independent schools in the South East of England.   Now in it’s fourth year, it has expanded to include other schools who would like to join.  I have to declare an interest, in that I am part of this group, but that is not the only reason I am writing about this on Heart.

School Librarians around the country – and local School Library Services (where they still exist) have set up book awards all around the country.  To see the variety of these look at the Local Book Awards tab on Heart.  One, quite notably, has become a national award because it is so unique – the Excelsior Award which is the only book award to focus solely on Graphic Novels.  This award is the brainchild of Paul Register, who was a school librarian when he set it up, and now is an independent trainer who teaches on the importance of graphic novels.

So with this plethora of local book awards, why am I flagging up the Trinity Schools Book Award as being a bit different?  Well, we believe that our USP is that alongside the normal book reviews and reading the books, we have set up a Creative Response Review.  The responses from the pupils to the books has been quite staggering!  I thought that their responses deserved a wider audience, and that this is perhaps something that you might consider for your award as well.  The creative response brings out a different side to the books, and the authors are usually delighted.  Sarah Govett, who won this year’s Award with her book The Territory delightedly tweeted screenshots of the responses to her book after the winning announcement.  To look at the Creative Responses to this year’s books on the theme of A New World, click on the link. You can see Creative Responses from other years as well, including an Everest cake, a lego response to Mortal Engines, a sea shanty, a piece of music, cosplay, and much more!  Look under the Creative Responses tab on the website to see the other four years.  Click on the logo at the start of this piece to visit the website – and enjoy!

School Librarian of the Year 2017

 

The School Library Association’s most prestigious Award, honouring the best school librarian that year, from a very highly qualified shortlist, is Lucas Maxwell from Glenthorn Hight School in Sutton.

There is a sense of fun in Lucas’s library. From timed Lego competitions to interactive and engaging library lessons. Lucas adds a playfulness and light touch to the library that the students overwhelmingly respond to. The contribution that the library makes to the school is felt well outside of its walls. Staff speak glowingly of how Lucas has enriched their teaching and enthused the whole school about reading for pleasure. Tricia Adams, Director of the SLA, said: ‘‘Lucas is a worthy winner and shows that school libraries are successful champions of both books and technology. His library is obviously fun to be in and his ‘Poem in my Pocket’ initiative and ‘Open Mic’ nights make the library a much-loved centre in his school”

The two other school librarians on the Honour List are: Mairéad Duggan – Mount Carmel Secondary School, Dublin and Shelagh Toonen – Elgin Academy, Moray All bring a passion and enthusiasm to their work that is thoroughly deserving of recognition by this award. To read the profiles of all the librarians on the Honour List visit the SLA website at: www.sla.org.uk The work of all the librarians on the Honour List, including the overall winner of School Librarian of the Year 2017, was celebrated at a ceremony held on Monday 9th October 2017 at The Hive, Worcester.

 

Celebrity authors and World Book Day books

It cannot have escaped your notice, if you are in the UK, that there is a lot of fuss about this year’s World Book day £1 book offering.  The problem centres around the fact that four of the books are by celebrities and one is a Marvel Comic.  Librarians and authors have been incensed by this, pointing out that in the past these WBD books have been successfully promoted as tasters, and children have gone on to read and love the authors represented – authors such as Malorie Blackman, Cressida Cowell, Robert Muchamore, David Almond to name but a few.  This article from the Guardian sums up the situation perfectly.  I know my Facebook feed and Twitter feed have been full in the last couple of days of people really angry about the fact that WBD isn’t about encouraging children to read books by excellent children’s authors, but seems to have fallen prey to the cult of celebrity instead.

This isn’t a new thought.  There have been questions about Zoella’s book club before, with opinion divided on what her choosing criteria are.  But this is different.  First World Book Day is turned into Dressing up Day – mostly by primaries and often nothing to do with books – and now there are fears that World Book Day is becoming just another outlet for already overexposed celebrities.

What do you think?  Do you think it is harmless, that children should just read? or do you support the authors who feel that their talent is being degraded by celebrities writing children’s books because, after all, how hard can it be? Very hard – judging by the Carnegie and Greenaway Award Winners!

Join in the debate!

Carnegie Greenaway Award 2017

I expect you have all heard by now who the long-awaited winners of the prestigious Carnegie and Greenaway awards are.  But if you hadn’t, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys won the Carnegie and There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith won the Greenaway.  In addition, the Amnesty Honour Award went to Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon and The Journey by Francesca Sanna.  Read more about the books and the acceptance speeches here.  This year there was an emphasis on the refugee crisis, and coincidentally the awards came at the start of refugee week.

The ceremony was a special one, as it is 80 years since the Carnegie Medal was created, and 60 years since the Greenaway, so it was also a celebration of all of the past winners of the award, many of whom were at the ceremony.  This book award has remained the gold standard for authors and illustrators, promoting what is best in children’s books throughout the years.

Reigate and Banstead writes!

Kay Hymas, Librarian, The Warwick School, Redhill  writes about a highly successful venture she set up in her area:

“When I was 10 years old, I won a story competition, which was run by my local paper. I can remember the thrill of being told I had won and my great pride in receiving not one but two Easter Eggs as a prize.

Fast forward to May 2016 and I am now working as a School Librarian (The Best Job in the World), at the Warwick School, Redhill.  A conversation with a student, who wished to enter a smallish writing competition, led me to search for something suitable but to no avail.  Coming up with nothing suitable I had a brainwave. Why not set up our own?

What comes first, the chicken or egg? The very first step was to check my Head Teacher, Ron Searle was happy for me to proceed, especially with using the Warwick School’s name in the promotion.  The idea as then put to rather wonderful local school librarians.  Katie Hill, Sue Sullivan and Helen Connor from St. Bede’s, Redhill, Reigate School and The Beacon in Banstead respectively. Did they think an inter-school competition would work? They agreed with much enthusiasm and offered to promote any competition in school. Without this support, there would have been no Reigate Writes! Local primary schools, with whom I had strong links were also keen enough to justify setting up a separate competition for children in years 5 and 6.

We now had the seeds of our ‘hyper-local’ competition.  The name and logo had to be settled without delay. I needed to assemble judges and prizes.

Jane McGowan, Editor of the Surrey Downs Magazine and theatre critic, readily agreed to act as ‘Head judge.’ She has been amazing with publicity, advice and hammering out the golden rules for judging the competition.  She was ably backed by Chris Bedford from our local Waterstones, Neil Richards from Surrey Library Service, a local Councillor – Frank Kelly, and Michael Rattigan a peripatetic supply teacher and published poet. All have been just brilliant and I own them all a huge debt.

Attention turned to prizes, as Katie Hill had said, decent prizes would incite the students to get writing! Here is where I struck lucky. I composed a large email out to local businesses asking for support with prizes.  Andy Nash (hereafter known as the magnificent Andy Nash) the General Manager of the Belfry Shopping Centre responded within 20 minutes with offers of prizes and in helping to promote the competition. This was closely followed by support from local cinemas, leisure centres, coffee shops, Sainsbury’s, signed books from authors as and the Recycling plant close to my school. I perhaps make this sound easier than it was. I have had to do a lot of chasing up both with prizes and publicity.

November 2016, Reigate and Banstead Writes is ready to launch. Entry forms and rules were distributed and School librarians went into action and we had several straplines to fire up the imagination and to grab attention.

A murder mystery in Priory Park. Or a Timeslip in Reigate Castle Grounds. Have Aliens landed on Earlswood Lakes? Is the Merstham Landfill site a Secret Volcano? A day out with friends on Banstead Common, or a voyage of discovery from Redhill Train Station. Do Merstham F.C Make it all the way to the Premiership? Are Reigate Caves a secret base for spies? Can you write a story set in your area?

January 2017. @RBWrites1, the twitter account promoting the competition went live. More than anything this got the word out and helped to cement the competition. Various authors such as Eve Ainsworth tweeted and retweeted. Jane McGowan published a piece in her Surrey Downs Magazine. My librarian colleagues worked tirelessly to promote in their own individual schools and made sure details ran in their school newsletters. Local councillors (from all parties) and the local MP Crispin Blunt, tweeted and promoted the competition and the local shopping centre put up a big display, complete with entry forms outside Waterstones.

Closing date 28th February. After verifying and counting. Reigate and Banstead Writes received 402 Entries from both primary and secondary age groups. A mammoth judging process lay ahead. Each judge shortlisted their favourites from their ‘pack’ which met the Entry criteria with the favourites being read and discussed by them all. The stories that did well were all set very clearly in our local area and had done exactly what we had asked.

Grace Moore, (pictured with her Year 5 teachers

Grace Moore won the Primary Category with her mystery story, BENEATH

Ben Herneman, a Year 8 student won the Secondary Category with his hilarious story, LORD OF THE RAILS (all southern rail users should read this)

We also had 2 x runners up in each category and several highly commended students who will be invited to the planned celebration afternoon taking place in June. I am busy organising that and on the hunt for an author to come and give out the prizes!  It has been a marathon and much more exciting, demanding and bigger than I thought. But the moral of this is:

Nothing was behind Reigate Writes, no publicity budget, no funding, no money set aside for prizes no big name supporters.  Rather, a good grassroots idea which harnessed the power of School Librarians working together to provide an exciting, creative opportunity for local children.

Pictured: Leon Patey 2nd place in Secondary and Laura Edwards, a ‘highly commended’ entry.

The winning stories can be read at:

http://www.warwick.surrey.sch.uk/2016/reigate-and-banstead-writes/

http://redhillbelfry.co.uk/news-events/news/reigate-and-banstead-writes-winners-announced/

www.readingzone.com (thanks to Caroline Horn)

 

Southwark Book Award 2017

 

 

Top to Bottom: Alex Wheatle, MG Leonard, Taran Matharu

On Thursday March 9th 2017, selected children from several different schools around Southwark packed into Canada Water Library to find out the results of the Southwark Book Award 2017. The Award had been relaunched this year, with six shortlisted books published during the school year 2015/2016, and voting was open to children in Years 7 & 8.

Three of the shortlisted authors – Taran Matharu (The Novice)  M.G.Leonard (Beetle Boy) and Alex Wheatle (Crongton Knights) were present at the ceremony, which caused an extra frisson of excitement amongst the children present. The three other shortlisted books were The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.

The pupils had already voted for their favourite book online, but once at Canada Water Library they were split into groups to discuss and rank each book in terms of its style, characterisation, plot, setting and theme. Later, they were treated to a short talk from each of the authors present.

The highlight of the morning was the presentation of the Award. Jo Mead, Learning Resources Manager at Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich, first announced the results of the morning’s discussion – which saw the honours for the different elements of the books fairly equally divided between the six titles. The overall winner of the Southwark Book Award 2017 however, was Andrew Norriss, for his book Jessica’s Ghost. Sadly, the author was unable to be with us on Thursday, but he sent a video in which he professed himself “absolutely delighted” and thanked all the students for their votes.

Before leaving to return to their respective schools, the students swarmed the authors present with requests for books, posters and bookmarks to be signed – a sure sign that a love of reading is alive and well in Southwark!

The Southwark Book Award is organised by the Southwark Education Librarians’ Forum, and we’re looking forward to making it even bigger and better next year. Southwark schools who would like to take part in future awards should contact Jo Mead (J.Mead@harrisdulwichboys.org.uk) to join our mailing list.

 

 

 

 

UKEd nomination for best Educational blog!

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I am proud to announce that Heart of the School has been nominated as one of the best Educational Blogs in 2016!  This is in UKEd Magazine, and the blog is featured alongside teacher’s blogs.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed stories to Heart – all your hard work has been acknowledged!  Please do keep your contributions coming in – everything from lessons you teach on information literacy to displays you put up.  It is really important to show the breadth of things that school librarians do – we don’t just stamp books, we have a vital role to play in educating children.  If you wish to read the UKEd magazine with the nomination in, then you can download it from here.  Thank you everyone – and keep it coming!  We passionately want to show that school librarians make a difference to every school!

Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award

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The Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award is a joint venture between the School Library Association and the CILIP School Libraries Group. As well as promoting the work and achievements of pupils within their school libraries, work which involves dedication and commitment but which often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, it also highlights the benefits and values of the school librarian.

Do you have a pupil librarian who could become the Pupil Librarian of the Year 2017?

Someone who is reliable, volunteers regularly and who has made a difference to the library, being a role model for others?

Someone who is an example of the synergy between a school library and the pupils?

Why not nominate them?

Watch out for more details when the award opens on September 19th

The award is supported by a number of leading children’s books publishers and the company, Authors Aloud UK, and judged by a panel of leading figures from the children’s book world and school library community.

For further information including nomination forms, contact details and sponsorship: http://libpupilaward.wixsite.com/home

About the CILIP School Libraries Group

The School Libraries Group (SLG) of CILIP affirms that school libraries and school library services are fundamental to the development of a literate population able to participate fully in a thriving democracy, culture, civilization and economy. www.cilip.org.uk/slg

About the School Library Association

The School Library Association is an independent charity that believes that every pupil is entitled to effective school library provision. The SLA is committed to supporting everyone involved with school libraries, promoting high quality reading and learning opportunities for all.  Website: www.sla.org.uk

Information Literacy and Teen Tech Award

Snip20160112_2There is some fantastic new material available if you are involved in teaching information literacy in your libraries.  Members of the CILIP Information Literacy group and the School Libraries Group have been collaborating on documents to support the  Teen Tech Awards, and they have produced some excellent sheets which are free to download which you can use in order to support teaching this subject.  You can find the sheets here  and more information about how to enter the Teen Tech Award here.