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.

 

The day Claire Balding came to King’s, Worcester

As told by librarian Annabel Jeffery:

‘On Tuesday October 3rd we were absolutely delighted to be chosen to host an author event with none other than Clare Balding. Pupils from all three foundation schools were present, along with children from three local primary schools. With so many young pupils queueing for signing and needing to be organised, we could not have done without the help of a group of U6 who enjoyed a rather different key Skills session to the Research Skills that was timetabled!  They were all fantastic on the day. 

From the moment she arrived -to be greeted by a very excited and delightful U6 Reception Committee – to the moment she left after entertaining 500 children and staff in College Hall and signing 100s of books, she created a buzz wherever she went.  (Even in the cathedral cloisters where lucky visitors may have noticed her whilst passing by her as she ate her lunch and chatted to Sixth formers.) 

Clare’s talk was full of enjoyable anecdotes about her childhood spent surrounded by animals, many of which taught her valuable life lessons (as well as being the inspiration for her new children’s books about racehorses), such as the importance of belief in yourself, doing what you enjoy, trying everything without fear of failure and not worrying about being different.   But the highlight was the way in which she engaged and interacted with the children. 

College Hall will never see the likes again of Clare Balding cavorting with great drama and commitment on stage, to re-enact great sporting moments of recent times with the help of King’s St Albans children who were brilliant.  Firstly she re-staged the final of the triathlon world series in September 2016 when Jonny (played by Henry Hawes of KSA)  was helped over the line by his brother Alistair, thus illustrating the power of selflessness in sport.  Fen Harper and Martha Burden from St Albans (by chance in their hockey kit) then had the chance to act as the favoured Dutch hockey players in the Rio Olympic final, taking on Clare as Maddie Hinchliffe.  Despite their skill, Clare (as Maddie) proved that belief and preparation can help you to win against the odds. 

She was also very brave in inviting up on stage young writers of the future from each school to interview them about their ideas for a story.  I don’t think she was expecting to have the kind of complex synopsis such as that given by Amalie Prewer-Jenkinson! 

The line of pupils queueing patiently with books seemed to be endless, but Clare waited until the last book had been signed and the last pupil hoping for a selfie (each one granted) had turned up. She was even happy to give Miss Jeffery’s spaniel a birthday hug!  

Clare Balding was a passionate and inspirational speaker, who will have left many of us with unforgettable memories of the day that she came to King’s.’

 

 

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!

Softlink UK School Library Survey

The 2017 UK School Library Survey is now open for submissions

Softlink is inviting you to take part in the 2017 UK School Library Survey. The survey results provide a current overview of the industry and a source of information for decision makers, schools and library staff.All school libraries in the United Kingdom are encouraged to participate in this year’s online survey

All school libraries in the United Kingdom are encouraged to participate in this year’s online survey

Follow this link   to complete the survey before 16 October.

Combating Far Right views with Literature

If you are concerned about the rise of the far-right and fundamentalist views, and wish to point out books in your library that counter this worrying trend, or create a display around this topic, that Matt Imrie (@mattlibrarian) who writes the Teen Librarian newsletter, has crowdsourced a list of books that you can use in displays or point out to students.  Find it here.

You can also read the latest copy of Teen Librarian here – it is well worth signing up to this to get Matt’s great monthly newsletter – always good value.  And his website has lots of great posters for school libraries as well!

 

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)

 

Roald Dahl inspires WBD fun in Fulneck School in Leeds

To celebrate World Book Day, we decided to hold a Roald Dahl inspired event for our year 8 and 9 students. Beforehand, students were handed golden tickets to get them through Willy Wonka’s factory gates. Once inside, they were put into teams for the afternoon. Each group worked their way around the different themed stations, the Dirty Beasts live animals proved to be a hit with the students! Other stations included Willy Wonka’s Bean Boozled Beans, BFG’s Dream Jar Creation Station, George’s Slime making, Willy Wonka’s Blind Chocolate Tasting, BFG Breakout puzzle and the Roald Dahl Quiz. There was a real buzz about the afternoon, student feedback included:

‘I mostly enjoyed petting the animals. I especially enjoyed handling the bearded dragon’

‘I really enjoyed the dream jars and the animals. It was really fun to pet animals that you don’t normally see!’

‘The animal corner was my favourite; I especially enjoyed holding the snake. The jars were also very fun, however messy!’

‘My favourite parts were holding Monty the Snake and the puzzle station.’

 

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.