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Diary nightmares, Baroness Benjamin and Dr Who!

November has been one of those months where there is so much to do, so little time to do it and yet it is a joy to be able to make it all work!  Exactly as it is in schools, so it is here at SLA HQ!

Coming to England JacketThe month started with a very exciting invitation to attend the House of Lords launch of Baroness Benjamin’s new edition of Coming to England from Macmillan – in glorious full colour.  We were all very touched by Floella’s speech – about the need to fit in, to feel as if you belong – to quote from the introduction -

To feel you belong is a most important necessity in life. This feeling was denied to thousands of West Indian children who came to Britain, but at least they had their fond memories of the homes they left. The next generation however, who were born into an adopted country, would not know enough about their roots and how they came to be living in Britain. Today my story also reflects the experiences of children from many other countries around the world who have arrived on these shores for various reasons. They too have felt rejection and have had to face adversity.

It’s one of those books you just feel should be in every school library as it has a message for today’s students in exactly the same way it had when it was first written.  Macmillan have saved two signed copies of the book from the event  - to try and win a copy send an email bearing the subject line 'Coming to England SLA' to childrensbooks[at]macmillan.co.uk  Closing date of 30th November – good luck!

Quite a few school librarians took part in the 5th November rally for libraries in London – there was quite a crowd there, and many speeches were made, now we just need the government to listen!  To add more voices to the call for school libraries and librarians Chris Riddell, current Children's Laureate,  mobilised the past Children’s Laureates to sign an open letter to Justine Greening published in the Guardian this week; this has been followed up with pieces in the Daily Telegraph, a Guardian Opinion piece and an article in the Big Issue yesterday.  School librarians in Durham used the opportunity to add their voices to the call and wrote an impassioned letter to the Minister setting out exactly what it’s like working in a school library. One of the authors commented to me – ‘those of us who put our school names to the letter in Durham, felt very empowered yesterday which has to be good for morale’.

Early in the month the Information Book Award was celebrated at the 6th Floor Roof Top café at our sponsors – Hachette.  It was a super evening celebrating some fantastic information books – do have a look at all the shortlisted books!  Publishers are already gearing up to choose the books they send in for next year’s award!

These last few days I have been on the move – Cardiff, Somerset and Bristol.  The latter two were branch visits – and it’s great to meet school librarians and get the chance to talk about what we are doing, what we can improve and what we need to develop. 

Cardiff was a training conference – on reading for pleasure – held in the amazing venue of the Dr Who Experience!  It was quite disconcerting to be listening to a real variety of excellent presentations on reading, and be overlooked by the Weeping Angels and see Davros off to the side of us!  Photos from the event can be seen here.

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