Monthly Archives: March 2018

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Reading for Pleasure: a primer

What is ‘Reading for Pleasure’?

The act of picking up and reading a book (fiction or non-fiction), magazine, comic, screenplay, gaming manual, e-reader or any other item consisting of text, images or a combination thereof for the purpose of reading it for the prime reason of enjoying it!

DID YOU KNOW: that reading for pleasure can also be a learning experience? Yes, while many people think that reading for pleasure is a throwaway activity, usually reserved for ingesting fiction or similar; many readers find reading non-fiction works pleasurable and learning as they go.

How do you encourage Reading for Pleasure?

If you run a Library, make sure that it stocks a wide variety of resources and listen to requests and suggestions from the people that use it to make sure that you are carrying what they want as well as what they need.

When a class comes in to borrow books give them space to choose and make yourself available to help them find something if they are not sure what they want. Do not get offended if they decline what you suggest (even if it is one of your favourite books)

If you see a student pick up a book that you think is too easy for them – bite your tongue! It is not up to you to police their reading habits, by all means recommend something else for them once they have read it but do not make them feel judged for what they choose to read. What may be a momentary comment that you forget soon after you have made may stay with them for a lot longer and colour their future interactions with you and the library.

DID YOU KNOW: that for many young people, shared reading is a pleasurable experience – have you ever seen children crowded round the Guinness Book of Records excitedly reading some of the records to each other – if that does not look like they are enjoying themselves then nothing does!

Seriously I know that in some lessons solitary reading is recommended but if you have a group enjoying a book why not let them get on with it or say half the lesson group reading, the other half solo reading.

If you have a teacher or teachers that demand the students read age-appropriate texts in library lessons maybe have a quiet word with them and see if they are willing to compromise.

Listening to audiobooks is also reading – the words just take a different route to the brain; if a student wants to plug in their earphones to listen to a book they love – let them!

Libraries Need Librarians a poem

I wrote a two verse poem yesterday over on twitter, John Dougherty contributed a further two verses and then Eve Ainsworth got involved.

The poem is available below, to download a copy click on the image

Ⓒ remains with the original authors

Poster: All you Want is the Internet

Poster: #LibrariansareNinja

Poster: Exams are Coming

Download a pdf copy of the Exams are Coming by clicking on the image below:

The CILIP Carnegie Medal: is it time for a discussion about splitting the medal?

The short-list for the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal was announced yesterday and it started up the discussion about splitting the Medal into a YA and younger fiction award due to a number of YA titles containing unsuitable content for younger readers.

I set up a 24 hour poll on Twitter to gauge how people feel about the idea of splitting the medal.

I must admit that in past discussions with friends and colleagues the majority of people I have spoken to have favoured the one medal for all approach as it is currently run. The results of the poll surprised me, I honestly expected them to be more evenly matched.

You can see the results below, if you click on the tweet you can read the entire, fascinating conversation that it spawned.

One of the major successes of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards has been the Shadowing Scheme allowing thousands of students in schools across the country and the world to follow the judging process, read along with the judges and have the opportunity to speak to members of the judging panel about the judging process. This is one of the positive extras that the Medals offer; but when younger readers are excluded due to the mature content of many of the short-listed titles it starts becoming of limited value to primary schools and the lower years of senior school.

The Shadowing Scheme is not the main purpose of the awards nor is it to recognise an ideal book for all readers. The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. This most outstanding book is chosen through a rigorous judging process and I do not want that to change.

However the strength of feeling engendered by the question among librarians, authors, publishers and other interested parties plus the growing ease of identifying YA books and other children’s books may make splitting the award less onerous than it may have been in the past.

Speaking personally, I am, at present, in favour of the one award for all but I am not against participating in a discussion about the future of the awards and recognising outstanding works for young people. Are new medals required to recognise age-specific books for young readers or will the Carnegie (and possibly the Kate Greenaway) survive in multiple incarnations?

This decision is, fortunately, not one that I can make, the only people able to do that are CILIP and the CKG Working Party who administer the medals.

One of the strengths of the Awards is that the decision-makers do listen to outside voices, and if the suggestions made have merit then changes are effected to make them more inclusive, relevant and open.

As I stated in my initial tweet, the poll was informal, but the message it sends is that perhaps it is time to revisit to conversation about splitting the medals, as the voices of dissent are only going to get louder.

#TeenLibrarian Monthly March 2018

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Only You Can Save mankind by Terry Pratchett

As the mighty alien fleet from the latest computer game thunders across the screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces. And they send him a message: We surrender.

They’re not supposed to do that! They’re supposed to die. And computer joysticks don’t have ‘Don’t Fire’ buttons . . .
 
But it’s only a game, isn’t it. Isn’t it?

Often overlooked in favour of his Discworld series, Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell trilogy is nevertheless an amazing set of books that desrves its place in the sun.

First published when I was 17, Only You Can Save Mankind was the fourth non Discworld book that I had read (the other three were the Bromeliad trilogy).

Now re-jacketed, re-illustrated (by Mark Beech) and re-released, Only You can Save Mankind more than holds up 26 years later. It is as magnificent as I remembered it the first time I read it – an anti-war novel that is also about friendship, fitting in, the importance of talking and a reminder that abuse and neglect can happen anywhere.

Look I should not have to sell you on a Terry Pratchett book – he was a phenomenal author and is still my favourite story-teller and one day I will have read all his works but that day is not today! Today marks the third anniversary of his passing and on this day if you have not discovered his work why not make a start with Only You Can Save Mankind?

My last post about World Book Day

As anyone who knows me or follows my blog and twitter account will know, I have had a bit of a problem with World Book Day – not the celebration of books, bookshops and reading but what I perceived as missteps in their organisation of WBD 2018 (and also some issues with WBD 2017). Rather than rehashing what I have already written, you can read my thoughts here and here.

I did try and engage with the organisation on social media in an attempt to have a public discussion about my concerns but to no avail, so on the 19th February I sent them an e-mail. You can read it below.

To whom it may concern

I have a number of conflicted feelings about World Book Day, on one hand I am a massive supporter of getting young people reading and into bookstores but on the other hand I feel that World Book Day ltd has made a number of missteps recently, some of which which I have publicly criticised on TeenLibrarian and via social media.

I dislike the idea of criticism without allowing a response and not having been able to engage with you via social media I wondered if a representative from WBD would be able to answer some questions regarding the issues I feel have arisen?

My questions are below.

Firstly, the YA offer this year

Why did it take three months for the YA titles to be announced instead of during “the coming weeks” as reported in the Guardian? (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/02/childrens-authors-slam-celebrity-heavy-world-book-day-lineup)

Regarding the £1.50 YA premium on top of the WBD voucher, I am aware that they are full novels and are still considerably cheaper than a non-WBD branded copy book would cost; but do you not think that this will further alienate young people from impoverished backgrounds*; not to mention the young people go to a participating bookshop or supermarket to pick up a book with their voucher and find out when they get to the till that they have to pay.

I also note on your website that the YA ‘special editions’ will be available in participating retailers only – will these retailers be listed to help shoppers find the books they are looking for? Are you not concerned that this will exclude older readers who wish to participate in World Book Day but do not live near a participating store?

Secondly the proliferation of the World Book Day logo on advertising costumes on posters in malls and in supermarkets. Contrary to popular belief I am not against dressing up to celebrate one’s favourite books for World Book Day, but is not using your logo to sell costumes a contravention of the style guide usage policy which states that the logo should only be used on materials promoting books?

I also fear that the dress-up aspect of the day is occluding the celebration of reading which forms a central part of World Book Day. An online search for “World Book Day” returns mostly news articles on where to find the most affordable costumes and news that a Welsh language book will be available for the first time.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions

Matt Imrie
Editor: Teen Librarian

*There were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15. That’s 28 per cent of children, or 9 in a classroom of 30 and this number is projected to rise by 2020 [source: http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures]

I received a response on Friday the 9th but owing to a school trip and family obligations over the weekend I only received it today. You can read it in full below

Download (PDF, Unknown)

I appreciate the Director Kirsten Grant taking the time to personally respond to my questions, it made for interesting reading and while my fears have not been completely allayed (or answered fully) I look forward to seeing what happens with WBD in the future.

Love, Simon

LOVE, SIMON also stars Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Miles Heizer, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Tony Hale and is directed by Greg Berlanti.

The film is an adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s bestselling 2015 YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.