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SLA Blog » April 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.

What makes children read?

An interesting article by Elizabeth Grice finds much to celebrate in children's books but that's not the whole story as she critiques the children's laureate's book choices (see blog entry Children's Laureate's Book Choices).  This made me think - what would I include in a top ten of favourite children's books?  So I started to draw up a list, and rapidly got to ten and hadn't included so many titles that I would want to.  So I cheated a little and thought by just listing authors I might make it work - but I still wanted more than ten...  I know I read quite a lot, and have many favourites but I just found it an impossible task, and I imagine our laureates did too!  Read the article from the Daily Telegraph here.

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Since publication on 5 March 2009, O2 have successfully distributed over 135,000 free copies of the online safety book Cybernuts: Who wnts 2 no? to schools and libraries. To ensure the book is available to every Key Stage 2 child in the UK, O2 have announced a distribution arrangement with Browns Books for Students to distribute heavily discounted copies into schools. The books will be available to schools at no more than £1.75 each. Schools can order a free sample copy at www.o2.com/thecybernuts.  You can see the authors of Cybernuts, Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow, at the SLA Weekend Course in June - don't miss it!

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Children’s Laureate’s Book Choices

You might like to see the books that the current and past Children's Laureates have chosen as part of the celebrations of the Laureates tenth birthday.  The choices will provide the basis of a major promotion at Waterstone's stores.  There are lots of classics there, as well as some more recent items - see Fiona Barrows comment on Bookbrunch

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Poetry and Childhood

What a luxury this conference was!  Arranged by Michael Rosen with the British Library and the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education to coincide with the launch of the BL exhibition - Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat: Four Hundred Years of Poetry for Children.  Do go and see the exhibition - running until 28 June 2009 - there are various events also running as part of the exhibition that would be fun to attend too. 

The conference spent time looking not only at the history of children's poetry but at how it is taught in schools, and also how it is taught to student teachers.  Several aspects of the conference stand out - the performances by Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay; Michael Rosen talking about the ‘bath of ideas' he took his inspiration from, and also his image that education is ‘interleaved and folded' into the rest of life - very organic.  He also spoke about allowing school children and ourselves the time to wonder, whilst also being pragmatic about the need to encourage government to develop policies about reading books.

The panel discussion on the future of poetry for children was very wide-ranging and included Gaby Morgan from Macmillan, Julia Eccleshare of CLPE, Roger Stevens of the Poetry Zone and chaired by Antonia Byatt of ACE.  Topics covered included whether or not the future for poetry was digital and downloadable, the capability of children to appreciate poetry across a whole spectrum, that market crossover was huge and the market for poetry was the hardest to quantify by age as well as touching on the ‘deconstruction debate' rather than reading whole pieces.

The whole was drawn to a spectacular close by the staging of the Laureate event - Andrew Motion and Michael Rosen in conversation with James Naughtie.  There was much agreement on their motivations as poets, that they visited lots of schools and aimed to raise the profile of poetry.  They both felt they ‘expressed the dark corners' and gave validation to children's (and adults) emotions, feelings, coping and expressing mechanisms as well as their own and the public's creativity.

A thoroughly thought provoking and stimulating conference! 

Tricia Adams

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New SLA library poster

Sunlight PosterA new version of the SLA poster first issued as a one-off for World Book Day is now available to help promote your school library.

The striking poster incorporates a quite from Michael Morpurgo: 'The sunlight of literature can touch hearts and souls.'

The poster is a high-resolution pdf download, and is available exclusively to logged-in SLA members at the Downloadable Posters page.

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Gateway to mystery…

The Sunday Times is reminding schools to register for its Books for Schools programme - and has several good quotes in the article this weekend, from Jonathan Douglas at the NLT, two headteachers, Zoe Williams and a certain Tricia Adams....  Read all about it!

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Newspaper cuttings

I'm sure that many of you will have picked up the piece in The Observer on 22nd March, based on an Ipsos MORI survey but just in case, the URL for the online version is below.  Great ammunition for the importance of the school library in parents' eyes.  The graph which accompanied the print version (which doesn't show in the online version) is confusing, but even better evidence for SLA.  Although the text says "74% [of parents] said a good library was key", the graph - which presumably showed some sort of amalgamated response - was as follows:

Factors that parents see as desirable:

  • Good discipline                                                          98.3%
  • A well-stocked library                                                 97.9%
  • Regular communication about children's progress             97.8%
  • Good overall academic results                                      97.4%

In other words, parents see having a good school library as second only to good discipline, and more important than academic results!   http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/mar/22/schools-pupil-behaviour-prospect

Also - Michelle Obama visit's a London school - this was spotted in the Observer and shows school librarians in a positive light; the visit would never have happened had it not been for the enterprising librarian!   "Jo Dibb, the headteacher, isn't quite sure why, out of all the schools in London, hers was picked. "A piece of paper landed on my desk saying, 'Would you like a talk from the US cultural attache on civil rights?' and I gave it to the librarian and said, 'Don't feel obliged'. But she went ahead and organized it and he was apparently very impressed by the quality of the girls' questions.

"And then the next thing I know, I'm coming back from lunch, and my PA says, 'You'd better sit down. The US embassy has just called and asked if you'd like to have Michelle Obama give a speech at the school.'  http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/apr/05/michelle-obama-school-london

Keep up the good work!

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100 pound give-away

Opening the Book Promotions are offering SLA Weekend Course delegates the chance to receive £100 to be spent on their range of acrylic display units. Opening the Book Promotions are looking for volunteers to give their opinion on a range of new furniture units currently being developed specifically for school libraries. The session will last no more than an hour and will be hosted during the SLA Weekend Course. Each volunteer will be given £100 credit to be spent on Opening the Book's range of acrylic units before the end of September. There are only 15 places available and volunteers will be accepted on a first-come first-served basis. If you are interested in taking part, please email jane[at]openingthebook.com or call 0121 246 2820.

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GiggleIT with GiggleCritter!

The GiggleIT Project is a global collaborative publishing project hosted by the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL), working in partnership with the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL).

Designed to help children around the world improve their English language literacy skills, the GiggleIT Project encourages students ages 10-14 to contribute their writings to an online book (eBook) celebrating stories and humour from their culture. Humour, just like tragedy, is a vehicle that can be used to promote cross-cultural understandings and collaboration for children and young adults around the world. Children's work will be published internationally and will identify their culture through literature.

Written by children for children, the eBook will contain children's stories, jokes and poetry. The project will inspire children to be creative and make cross-cultural connections with other children from around the world as they learn about humour from other countries, while improving their literacy skills. 

A range of competitions, and teaching and learning packages, will motivate and stimulate reading and writing skills whilst supporting the teaching and learning with examples and worksheets which can be downloaded into handouts for the class.  Registration is free!

Register now to be part of this incredible international project at the IASL WEBSITE: http://www.iasl-online.org/sla/giggleIT/

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The Conference Season

I have just spent a very enjoyable and packed weekend in Peterborough with CILIP School Libraries Group at their conference.  It was a real winner!  Each day had a particular focus - Friday was the impact of teaching and learning, Saturday was devoted to Web 2, and Sunday to wider reading - and lots of interesting and inspirational speakers were included in the programme.  It was lovely to see two of the School Librarian of the Year winners, Anne Robinson and Nikki Heath, presenting papers to the conference, as well as being able to catch up with other SLA and SLG members in a very friendly atmosphere.  I was invited as a guest to the conference - one sign of the ways that our two organisations are trying to work together on some of the big issues for school librarians - thank you for a very enjoyable weekend!

Tricia Adams

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