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This has been a particularly hectic week - I thought you might like to know what I have been up to.
Monday evening I was at London's Capital City Academy for the recording of a Teachers TV Big Debate on Is the Curriculum Fit for the 21st Century? Krishnan Guru-Murthy explored the issue of should the curriculum teach a foundation of knowledge, or simply provide analytical skills? The panel included Mick Waters, director of curriculum at the QCA, and Matthew Taylor, head of The Royal Society. The discussion also covered the use of the internet, analytical skills, and where the curriculum should go from here. This will be shown on Teachers TV on Saturday 31 January 2009 at 10.15 pm and Sunday 1 February 2009 at 8 pm and will be available to see on the internet later. I didn't get called on to ask any questions as the discussion stayed on the curriculum for most of the programme.
Tuesday evening I was delighted to join Michelle Magorian and the team at Egmont Press for the Costa Awards Dinner - a wonderfully smart affair at the Intercontinental Hotel. Michelle had won the Children's prize for Just Henry - described as ‘a warm bath of a book' and received her cheque at the ceremony from Victoria Hislop. She also presented the book token prizes to the child judges who had taken part in the process. The overall winner was Sebastian Barry for The Secret Scripture.
Thursday I was a delegate at a fascinating Westminster Media Forum discussion morning - about Creativity and the Creative Industries' involvement in the curriculum. These fora are a really useful discussion arena including MPs, Government ministers, interested stakeholders and industry. The proceedings from the day always make fascinating reading - and SLA gets a chance to raise its profile and that of school libraries.
Friday I attended the IBBY (International Board for Books on Young People) World Congress 2012 Advisory Group - to add an extra voice to the advice panel for this prestigious and exciting conference due to take place in London in August 2012.
In between all this I have been at the office in Swindon for 2 days, and worked from home for the rest of the time - next week promises to be just as busy!
Congratulations to Neil Gaiman, whose young adult fantasy novel The Graveyard Book has won the American Library Association's 2009 Newbery Medal.
"A child named Nobody, an assassin, a graveyard and the dead are the perfect combination in this deliciously creepy tale, which is sometimes humorous, sometimes haunting and sometimes surprising", commented the judges.
The book, which has a dedicated website - http://www.thegraveyardbook.co.uk/ - will be reviewed in the Spring 2009 issue of The School Librarian.
I was delighted to be invited to the celebration of this prestigious award. The English Speaking Union is housed in a wonderful building just off Berkeley Square (and no, I didn't hear any nightingales!) The award recognises the wonderful work that translators do in bringing good books to English readers - from a very strong shortlist Sarah Ardizzone's translation from French of Toby Alone by Timothée de Fombelle, published by Walker Books, has won her the 2009 Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation.
Presenting the Award on 20th January 2009 at The English-Speaking Union, London, Anthony Horowitz said "Story-telling and literature are the fastest way to connect people, the truth is that you cannot really understand a nation unless you understand their culture. It would seem sensible to attempt to cross those boundaries in any way we can, particularly as we seem to live in a world in which the divides between religions and races seems more pronounced and more dangerous than ever. This is the just one reason why I am so pleased to support the Marsh Award."
Accepting the award and a cheque for £2000, Sarah Ardizzone responded: "I am flabbergasted and delighted to be receiving the Marsh Award 2009. I truly hope the prestige associated with this prize will help bring Timothée de Fombelle's extraordinary miniature world set in a tree, with its contemporary eco-flavour, as well as its timeless themes of friendship, epic adventures and unconventional families, to as wide a readership as possible. To my mind this is the greatest gift of the Marsh Award: shining the spotlight on world class literature for children, so that not only the deliciously shrunk perspective of Toby Alone but also the sheer diversity of the 2009 shortlisted books, translated from a wider range of languages than ever before, might travel into the hands and classrooms and libraries of young people across the UK."
Anthony Horowitz's full speech will be available in the next edition of The School Librarian.
Pictured: Aleksandra Marsh (Marsh Christian Trust), Anthony Horowitz (who gave the speech and presented the prize), Sarah Ardizzone (the winner) and Valerie Mitchell (Director-General of the English Speaking-Union).
JISC Collections is providing a one day workshop, offering demonstrations of the online subscription resources available to schools. Delegates will have the opportunity to explore the resources and consider their potential in teaching and learning (and meet with colleagues to share ideas and information).
The day is FREE and includes all refreshment.
Closing date for applications on this really useful course is this Friday 23rd January 2009. A few places are still available - ring the SLA office for more details, and check out the regional training course web pages.
The SLA has prepared a poster featuring Barack Obama's quote about the library as a 'magic threshold':
'At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.'
The poster is a high-resolution pdf download, and is available exclusively to logged-in SLA members at the Downloadable Posters page.
The quote comes from Barack Obama's keynote speech at the ALA Annual Conference in 2005. The full speech may be read here.
Do take a look at this programme on Teachers TV. It features Anne-Marie Tarter of Ripon Grammar School tackling the difficult subject of plagiarism - and engaging the students in thinking about their learning. It lasts for 30 minutes: www.teachers.tv/video/30749 .
Don't forget - nominations for new Board Members for SLA close on 2 February 2009. To find out more, look at the members area of the website and download a nomination form now!
The SLA office had a near miss today when a small electrical fault set off the smoke alarms at 4.30 am and the fire brigade were alerted to a problem in the building. Happily the damage was minimal, wiring and panels have been speedily replaced, although there was obviously some interruption to the smooth running of the office! Everything should be back to normal tomorrow!
It was with great pleasure that we saw two 'old friends' of the SLA honoured for their contributions to the library world in the 2009 New Years Honours List. Wendy Cooling (MBE) and Sue Jones (OBE), very many congratulations to both - hugely well deserved!
The National Literacy Trust has announced the Reading for Life Campaign that builds on the successes of the Year of Reading (NYR). The new campaign will launch during Spring 2009 and will build on the networks and approaches that the NYR has started. The campaign will consist of a public-facing website (http://www.readingforlife.org.uk/ ) featuring literacy initiatives and resources, including Wikireadia, the shared professional resource developed during the NYR.
Reading for Life will particularly target pre-school children and those in their first few years of secondary school (key stage 3), especially boys, black and minority ethnic children, Eastern European children, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children, white working class boys as well as C2DE families, especially young fathers, disabled children, print-impaired readers, looked-after children and adult learners.
This promises to be another exciting and stimulating year for reading - and the opportunity for more schools to partner local organisations and libraries to engage their pupils in reading activities.
Gervase Phinn, SLA President, has a new book - Teaching Poetry in the Primary Classroom - launching on 26 January 2009 at Centre Point, Bramhall Village, Cheshire. This book offers an accessible, practical and structured programme for the teaching of this sometimes neglected aspect of the English curriculum. (Crown House Publishing, 9781845901301) For details or to attend the event, contact http://www.simplybooks.info/
Why not start the New Year off by trying to win £50 worth of book tokens for your library? Answer the Reading Agency's quick and easy survey about the Enjoying Reading website and project, for a chance to win.
Your views are really valuable to the future development of the website, and the survey will only take around 10 minutes to complete. Don't forget to add your contact details, to be entered into the prize draw. You might be the lucky winner!
Click on this link to reach the survey form:
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