Monday, 12 May 2014

Little Rebels Book Award and children’s books that raise important social issues

After-TomorrowI very much enjoyed attending the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award ceremony on Saturday, and two fascinating panel discussions prior to it. The award celebrates children’s fiction on issues of social justice. It’s administered by the wonderful Letterbox Library. Gillian Cross was this year’s worthy winner for After Tomorrow. These were the other books on a very strong shortlist (the last two are picture books):

Deborah Chancellor, Real Lives: Harriet Tubman

Gill Lewis, Moon Bear

Geraldine McCaughrean, The Middle of Nowhere 

John Boyne, Stay Where You Are

Andrea Beaty, Rosie Revere Engineer, illustrated by David Roberts

Nicola Davies, The Promise, illustrated by Laura Carlin

IMG_0513Wendy Cooling interviewed shortlisted authors Gill Lewis, Deborah Chancellor and Geraldine McCaughrean. They spoke about the importance, and the difficulty, of transforming research into stories children will want to read. All are clearly driven to write books that alert children to important issues.

IMG_0522Ann Lazim chaired a debate on the characteristics of radical children’s books, and how to ensure children have access to books that expose them to big ideas and foster independent thinking. Authors Alan Gibbons and Catherine Johnson, academic Kim Reynolds and many audience members spoke passionately about the need for books in which all children can find people like themselves, still less easy than it should be, and for books that challenge stereotypes. Letterbox Library offered to set up a facility on its website through which people will be able to upload and to find sources of information. I’ll post a link to this once it is up.