Tag archives: Carnegie shadowing

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Children’s and teenagers’ reading: recent news and views

monkey readingI love this picture from a museum in Orvieto in Italy. A great illustration for my latest round-up of reading news and articles.

Finland has just been named as the world’s most literate nation, while the UK is ranked 17th.

The National Literacy Trust has published a new survey about early literacy practices at home.

A poll for International Children’s Book Day revealed that half of parents think reading a book is the best way to develop empathy.

The Reading Agency has launched a scheme to support young people’s mental health through books in public libraries.

Teen author Alex Whale considers whether reading children’s books can help tackle knife crime.

Author Natasha Carthew has written an important piece on the lack of working class culture in children’s books.

Ross Montgomery explores the difficulty and importance of writing diverse children’s books.

School librarian Barbara Band’s blog Reading schemes or reading for pleasure? is well worth a look.

There are good ideas here for promoting reading through the school library.

The Publishers Association is looking to recruit 10,000 ‘reading amabassadors’ to promote reading for pleasure.

Joy Court is very interesting on the impact of the Carnegie and Greenaway awards shadowing scheme on reading.

The shortlist has been announced for the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award.

Teenage reader Ayesha suggests the way to halt the decline in reading for pleasure is to give books a go.

‘The reality of reading to toddlers’ is entertaining and useful.

Finally, an article on why listening to podcasts helps improve reading skills.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Stretching able readers – and Ben Okri’s 10½ inclinations

Carnegie cubesThere were great discussions at my course on stretching able readers this week at Heath Books. We talked about the characteristics of able readers and ways to broaden their reading and increase their engagement while maintaining their enjoyment. Reading groups are brilliant. So are activities like the Kids Lit Quiz and shadowing book awards. These lovely Carnegie cubes were made by librarian Rebecca Marshall at Lipson Cooperative Academy.

A key feature of the day was exploring a wide range of books. We discussed the challenge of providing and promoting books that suit able readers’ interests and abilities without being too advanced in terms their emotional maturity.

One group on the course offered the very useful notion that the best books are launch-pads. The two books that provoked the most enthusiasm, from both primary and secondary teachers and librarians, were picture books, one with no words and one with very few: The Arrival by Shaun Tan and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. They are great just to enjoy, and also for supporting inference and deduction, and inspiring higher order thinking and creativity. (I am very pleased to be giving a course on using picture books to support learning at KS2 at Heath Books next term.)

Ben Okri’s 10½ inclinations provoked fascinating debate. Okri was once asked for a list of ten books every child should read. This was his response:

  1. There is a secret trail of books meant to inspire and enlighten you. Find that trail.
  2. Read outside your own nation, colour, class, gender.
  3. Read the books your parents hate.
  4. Read the books your parents love.
  5. Have one or two authors that are important, that speak to you; and make their works your secret passion.
  6. Read widely, for fun, stimulation, escape.
  7. Don’t read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
  8. Read what you’re not supposed to read.
  9. Read for your own liberation and mental freedom.
  10. Books are like mirrors. Don’t just read the words. Go into the mirror. That is where the real secrets are. Inside. Behind. That’s where the gods dream, where our realities are born.

And finally 10½.  Read the world. It is the most mysterious book of all.

Monday, 3 December 2012

School library ideas

It’s been lovely to give lots of courses on school libraries recently. I’m always struck by the inventiveness of people who manage libraries. Last week in Leeds a delegate told us how her school raises money for library books. (Who doesn’t need good fund-raising tips?) Every Friday they sell ice-creams for 50p. A big treat for the pupils, all the more so because against healthy eating rules, and a major success in terms of library stock. I’ve heard so many fabulous ideas. How wonderful to have a story-telling chair. Reading aloud in the library is so special. And so important now that many children are read to very little, at home and even in school. Reading aloud isn’t just for the primary library. Plenty of secondary librarians have shared inspiring stories on courses of students’ attitudes to books and reading being changed by being read to. Doesn’t have to be whole books. Intriguing extracts from information books, gripping opening lines from novels, funny poems all work well. How about mystery books in sparkly wrapping under a Christmas tree in the library (barcodes on the back)? Speed-dating with books is great. The Reading Game introduces pupils to masses of books. Film Club is a success in lots of libraries. Carnegie and Greenaway Award shadowing goes from strength to strength. I’m a particular fan of Greenaway shadowing done collaboratively between the library and the special needs department in secondary schools, or the library and the art department, or as a cross-sector initiative with feeder primaries. For primary libraries, how about having a puppet theatre? Story-sacks are being used very imaginatively in many primary libraries, the best often made by pupils or parents or both. There has been a lot of interest when I’ve explained curiosity kits too. What about a bedtime reading event? Hugely popular in lots of primary schools. Children and staff in pyjamas, teddy bears in hand, plenty of hot chocolate and loads of books read aloud. And then there’s reading clubs. I know of so many wonderful library clubs. A Muchamore club that operates like a secret society, a dangerous book club complete with experiments taken from books. Anything that gets pupils talking together about reading about books and reading is worthwhile. Paired reading has a proven track record. Quizzes and competitions are brilliant. Don’t forget the Kids Lit Quiz for Y7&8. I love extreme reading challenges. Pupils and staff have photos taken of them reading in surprising places. Photos you can put up all round the library, or even the whole school. My favourite was a boy who curled himself up tight in his rabbit’s hutch.

It’s easy to see why libraries make such a difference to children’s reading and learning. The picture here was on the front cover of a book called Stacks of Stories. I feel very lucky to have Colin Hawkins’ permission to use it. It says so much about the power of libraries.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

IBBY/NCRCL MA conference 2012: Beyond the Book

I always look forward to the IBBY/NCRCL MA conferences, and Saturday’s lived up to expectations. The array of speakers was truly impressive, and there was a profusion of exhilarating ideas.

A lecture on 18th century children’s literature hadn’t sounded of enormous interest, but Matthew Grenby held me riveted with his exploration of the inter-relationship between the oral tradition, maternal manuscript writings and the early printed book, and how these reflected cultural norms of the times. He shared fascinating examples. One manuscript book was remarkably similar to today’s picture books. We then skipped a couple of centuries, as speakers from Nosy Crow, Winged Chariot and Hot Key Books brought us right up to date with latest developments in digital publishing. It was great to hear about the innovations happening with apps and e-books. (I blogged about Maggot Moon, one of Hot Key’s publications recently.) Touch-screen technology in particular is revolutionising children’s book publishing, and children’s experiences of books and reading in very exciting ways. Interestingly, all the speakers were adamant that children need immersion in printed books as well as digital ones.

Sita Brahmachari, author of Artichoke Hearts, next gave a brilliant account of the adaptation of Shaun Tan’s wonderful wordless picture book about migration The Arrival that she and Tamasha Theatre Company have created for circus performance. The processes she described of bringing the book alive in a new way were amazing, not least multi-lingual oral testimony and a verse transcript. We saw a tantalising video clip. The show is going on tour shortly. I can’t wait!

A brief résumé of IBBY news and lunch were followed by workshops. The two I attended were very stimulating, one on children’s responses to wolves in children’s books, and one on the impact of e-books on children’s reading. Research in the mid 90s suggests e-books may aid reading comprehension. A very small recent study indicates that they can change reluctant readers’ attitudes to reading. More research is needed. It would be particularly valuable to find out the impact of modern forms of e-books on comprehension.

I found the next session, Eight books is never enough, especially interesting. School librarian Kay Waddilove gave us a fabulous insight, complete with two videos, into Carnegie shadowing at JFS School. Twelve year-old Carnegie reviewer Emilia Lamkin’s enthusiasm was infectious. Shadowing has increased her confidence, improved her writing and changed her approach to reading.

Children’s dramatist David Wood was fascinating on the excitements and challenges of adapting books by authors as diverse as Roald Dahl, Michelle Magorian, Philippa Pearce, Dick King-Smith, Eric Hill and Judith Kerr for the stage. I was intrigued by the differing extents to which authors get involved. We then heard from some authors, and an illustrator, as Candy Gourlay, James Mayhew and Karin Littlewood described their work as curators for the incredible Pop-Up Festival of Stories, a brilliant and innovative call to reading.

The last speaker of the day was super-talented illustrator Jim Kay, who shot to fame with his illustrations for A Monster Calls. His talk was illuminating and entertaining. He tries to stay faithful to all the books he illustrates. It took him many attempts to get the monster as he wanted, with sufficient gravitas, plus enough anonymity and ambiguity to allow readers to create their own imagined pictures.

A great day! Just William’s 90th anniversary cake was a delicious bonus.