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SLA Blog » May 2009RSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

Write Away Conference

This inspirational conference, held last Friday, was on the theme of Something Old, Something New looking at approaches to classic literature, culture and heritage in education.  The day was filled with stimulating sessions looking at the relevance and use of classic texts in the classroom, in all formats - including graphic novels and film.  John Agard gave a wonderful performance, with comment and explanation, of extracts from his new retelling of Dante's Inferno to round off the day which had included Chris Riddell and Martin Jenkins, talking about the processes of adapting and illustrating well known classics; plus a panel of illustrators (Anthony Browne, Emma Chichester Clark and Jane Ray) discussing their motivations in illustrating the same classic fairy tale - Little Red Riding Hood.  The Write Away conferences are a real must attend event each year - do look out for next year and try to attend...

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Essex Book Award 2008 Press Release

David FicklingEssex secondary school children have voted the book The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd as their favourite read for the Essex Book Award 2008.

The novel describes how, after their friend, Salim, mysteriously disappears from the London Eye, Ted and Kat follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find him before time runs out. The novel carries the reader along at a relentless pace to a surprising conclusion. As one of the students said: 'When I first saw the title I thought it sounded fun and interesting. After reading the first chapter I couldn't stop. I have recommended it to lots of friends'.

Sadly, Siobhan Dowd died in 2007 but her editor David Fickling accepted an invitation extended to him by Essex School Library Service to talk to an audience of a hundred students and adults. He spoke movingly and entertainingly of his memories of Siobhan, describing how he read her first novel at one sitting (which is rare) and how excited he was by the quality of her work.

Carolyn Hughes, School Library Service Manager, presented him with a cheque for the Siobhan Dowd Trust, which promotes books and reading to disadvantaged children.

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The Medicine Chest of the Soul

This was the inscription above the door of the library at Thebes, in Ancient Egypt, which the Reading Agency has used in talking about the health benefits of reading - well recognized throughout the public library sector.  I just loved the quotation from a reading group member - "Reading is like going on holiday without packing your bags . . . it's better than any doctor's medicine."  To read the full article in BookBrunch follow this link.

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Manifesto for Education Libraries

Unison has just produced a four page advocacy document for libraries in all educational settings - including schools.  To see it, or order copies, scroll down the resources document list.

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Family Reading wins!

Patience Thomson has been announced as the winner of the Quick Reads Learners' Favourite Award.  Voted for by readers and adult learners using the 2009 Quick Reads books, Patience was awarded for her book 101 Ways to get your Child to Read.  The award was presented by Rachel Davies, a Literacy Programme Director at NIACE, at a ceremony held as part of Adult Learners' Week (9-15 May).

With over 30 years' experience teaching children with reading difficulties, Patience is also the co-founder of Barrington Stoke, a publisher specializing in books for reluctant, struggling and dyslexic readers.

Seeing off competition from Quick Reads authors including the UK's number one crime writer, Ian Rankin and best-selling novelist Kate Mosse, Patience said "I am thrilled to win this award.  It is an immense tribute to the parents, pupils and colleagues who, over the years, have taught me so much about the true nature of reading difficulties and how to overcome them.  It proves how many people there are who really believe in the importance of reading, and how it influences the lives of all of us. Reading opens up new landscapes and shapes our minds. No one should be denied the chance to learn.  And there are 101 ways parents can help them to do so."

This year's favourite Quick Reads book was chosen via an online poll from the 10 titles which were published on World Book Day, 5 March 2009.  Voters included adult literacy groups, Union Learning Representatives and library visitors along with those who had purchased the books looking for a short, fast-paced read.

101 Ways to get your Child to Read targets parents whose children find reading a challenge or who do not want to read by using tried and tested tips to encourage family reading.  With celebrity hints and tips, the book is written in a clear, concise style to help all adults, including those who struggle with reading themselves.

Carol Taylor, NIACE Director of Operations commented, "What great news that adult learners have voted for a book that shows the value of parents supporting their children's reading and writing. NIACE knows, and research proves, that the first few years of a child's life are the most important to appreciate the joy of learning - a habit that stays with them forever. Patience Thompson's book concentrates on the support parents can give to children who have particular challenges with reading and writing and obviously the learners value the book enormously."

Michael Morpurgo made some interesting and perceptive comments in his introduction to the book - to read more see the article in today's Bookbrunch.

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Spotlight launch

In May 2009, the Reading Agency is launching Spotlight, a major new children's reading promotion, in collaboration with Children's Reading Partners, the library/publishing consortium. Spotlight is the result of an unprecedented cross- industry collaboration, drawing on the expertise of children's librarians to highlight the very best that children's publishing has to offer.

Ten times a year, six titles selected by specialist children's librarians from across the UK will be promoted through public libraries, and school library services. Spotlight aims to introduce children to the best new writing and expand their reading horizons, help parents make informed reading choices for their children, and enhance libraries' promotion of current children's literature. 

The Spotlight list can also provide inspiration for further promotion of library book stock and publisher lists, including other books written by the featured authors, and ‘if you liked this, you'll like these' themed displays. 

"We're excited by this important initiative, says Elaine McQuade, MD of Scholastic Children's Books and Chair of the PA Children's Book Group. "Spotlight takes our partnership with libraries to a new level, giving us coordinated marketing access to the vast and diverse grass roots library network. In these tricky times, harnessing the power and reach of this network to get a wide range of new books into the hands of as many children as possible is more important than ever for children's publishers."

Spotlight will be implemented in two phases. From May to September, libraries signing up to Spotlight can get a free starter pack containing posters and headers to accompany library displays.  They can also download ideas for the supplementary promotion of author back lists and feedback on the development of the project.  

Once Phase One feedback has been reviewed, more materials will be available from September 2009. Libraries will be able to buy extra Spotlight promotional materials and get free access to reader development resources to support linked reading group activities. Some Spotlight authors will be available for library events.

Spotlight has been devised by Children's Reading Partners, the partnership consortium which aims to expand the market for reading by transforming the way public libraries and children's publishers work together. The consortium is led by The Reading Agency, the independent charity working to inspire more people to read more. It involves the whole UK  public library network, 13 children's publishers, The Publishers Association and the main children's library bodies including school library services.

For more information about Spotlight please contact: naomi.danquah[at]readingagency.org.uk

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