Monthly Archives: September 2018

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The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals: a change has come

Full disclosure: I am a member of CILIP and a former judge for the 2015 & 16 CILIP CKG Medals.

I knew it was coming, and was even expecting it, but what with some changes in my life and location, the announcement that the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards Independent Diversity Review Final Report was published on Thursday 27th September still managed to catch me by surprise.

As an ardent fan (although not an uncritical one), follower and commentator of the Medals, I was excited to read the recommendations, but still approached them with a sense of trepidation; owing possibly to the sense of ownership I felt as a librarian and as a member of CILIP and the Youth Libraries Group. Nevertheless I shook off these feelings and approached the report with a cautious optimism and told myself that the Awards do not belong to me, that I know they are a living thing that can and have changed in the past and that change is good.

The ten recommendations made in the final report are:

  • Explicitly champion diversity through the Awards’ strategies, development plans and messages including a statement of a robust and proactive strategy for the Awards that clearly states a commitment to diversity and inclusion with clear vision, objectives, and positive action towards stated intended outcomes.
  • Recognise a diverse range of voices and perspectives in the nominations, longlist, shortlist and prize winners.
  • Expand the diversity profile of the judges by increasing the variety of backgrounds and lived-experiences amongst CILIP’s panel of librarian judges.
  • Establish an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to accelerate the embedding of diversity and inclusion throughout the Awards.
  • Strengthen the diversity training that librarian judges receive to instil heightened awareness of diversity and inclusion and understanding of the impact of power dynamics, as well as acknowledgement of inevitable personal biases in all members of the panel.
  • Review the Awards criteria through an open and collaborative process that includes a diversity of perspectives and lived-experience. Consider the inclusion of criteria for innovation, shifting perceptions, or writing about different backgrounds and experience as indicators of quality and excellence.
  • Empower and celebrate the children and young people involved in the Awards through the shadowing scheme by giving them a significant voice and visible presence in the process and prize giving.
  • Strengthen the governance that supports the Awards’ strategic direction, calling on internal and external experts to lead the Awards through a sustainable change process over the short and long term.
  • Raise greater awareness of diverse books amongst librarians and identify opportunities for further championing of diversity with the library supply sector.
  • Increase outreach by opening up and amplifying the nominations process, discovering and recognising new and diverse talent and forging new partnerships.

  •  
    CILIP’s immediate actions are to:

  • Creating a new mission for the Awards: To inspire and empower the next generation to create a better world through books and reading.
  • Opening up the nominations process to external nominating bodies as well as librarians including BookTrust, CLPE, Commonword, IBBY, Inclusive Minds, National Literacy Trust and RNIB.
  • Creating a list of eligible books by diverse authors and illustrators, to raise awareness amongst CILIP members.
  • Expanding the judging panel to bring in a broader range of perspectives and experiences into the judging process.
  • Setting up an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to bring greater representation and lived experience into the Awards process.
  • Providing judges with enhanced diversity training including coaching sessions, bias testing and guidance notes on identifying inclusion in children’s books.
  • Introducing a new children’s choice prize to be presented by participants of the Shadowing scheme at the June Awards ceremony.
  • Celebrating new and emerging talent though a quarterly publication of top 10 new voices eligible for the upcoming Medals.

  •  
    The recommendations and actions that give me a sense of joy and elation are that future Awards will include recognition from the Shadowing scheme, I and many other judges and observers over the years have asked for and pushed for this, or something like it to be included in the ceremony. The already excellent training that judges go through before they sit on the panel is to be improved with diversity training to assist judges in identifying bias and inclusion.

    I must admit to feeling a bit smug at being ahead of the curve when I read that CILIP is curating a list of eligible diverse books for the 2019 awards as that is something I was working on for the 2018 Awards; such lists are important, for, as I wrote then: I believe that it is possible for books to slip past fairly easily, due to the sheer volume of books published for children and young readers and the limits that publishers publicity departments face with regard to budget, many books are released with little or no official fanfare at all.

    Maintaining awareness of new books is an on-going struggle for library workers, this is made more difficult with services such as supplier selection which removes choice from staff in libraries; often popular titles and authors are purchased to the exclusion of new authors and illustrators or small and independent publishers. I will just say that many of my best sources of information about new and diverse books are librarians that I know personally and on-line as we are passionate about discovering new authors to enable us to put books in the hands of readers who will enjoy them.

    Allied with this is the inclusion of new nominating bodies, including IBBY, CLPE, Booktrust, Inclusive Minds, the RNIB, CommonWord and the National Literacy Trust. At first I was skeptical of opening nominations to outside organisations but after some reflection I have come to realise that the organisations involved are all allied in some way with CILIP and may catch and nominate diverse titles that are missed by librarian nominators.

    Expanding diversity and experience among the judging panel is a process that has already begun with judges being recruited from a wider pool within CILIP, the first judges recruited in this way will be judging the 2019 Medals.

    I am curious as to why the panel is being enlarged to 14 judges; in previous years judges have represented the 12 YLG regions in the UK. I am assuming that the extras will be chosen from the pool of applications for the original 12 places. An added point of concern is that it will place more pressure on finding judges, as I am aware that in the past filling slots on the panel has been a bit fraught due to a lack of available librarians. I wonder whether the extra judges be chosen in rotation from the different regions every two years in the interests of balance and equality?

    The call to review the awards criteria is one that I feel may be redundant, as the criteria are already regularly reviewed and updated when short-comings are discovered. The most recent example of this is the addition of the illustrator’s name to illustrated novels nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2016 . I do however recognise that the explicit language used may be needed to inform those unaware of how the criteria are governed and updated.

    Adding an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to the panel that already exists to advise and monitor the awards process can only assist the judges in their deliberations and making the strongest possible selections. I will watch with interest and look forward to discovering who will make up the panel.

    The championing of new voices is a great idea and one that will lead to a closer working relationship between CILIP and publishers & authors in the UK and abroad.

    The creation of a new mission for the CKG Awards firmly embeds the purpose of the awards and extends it to make them two of the most inclusive book awards, and not just for books and illustration for children and young people:

    Mission

    To inspire and empower the next generation to create a better world through books and reading.

    We will do this by:

  • Celebrating outstanding writing and illustration for children and young people.
  • Recognising a broad range of perspectives, experiences and voices.
  • Championing the power of librarians to connect children and young people with outstanding books that represent their identities and help them shape a better world.
  • Encouraging authors, illustrators and publishers to create more books for children and young people that reflect all identities and promote diversity.
  • Promoting a readership and market that values diversity, representation and inclusion in books for books for children and young people.
  • Challenging children and young people with a diversity of ideas and perspectives to promote empathy, tolerance and understanding.
  •  
    The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards have been in existence for over 80 and 60 years respectively, and under the stewardship of the Youth Libraries Group and CILIP they have grown in prestige and awareness over the decades. I trust the stewards to do the right thing for the awards, to make them stronger and ever more inclusive; in supporting the judges as the work that they do grows ever harder with no end in sight to the growth in publishing for young people.

    I look forward to watching the awards progress in coming years, to see how the largest changes in over a generation affect them; but remain confident that it will be change for the better, as their defining purpose, the recognition of outstanding writing and illustration for children and young people, has not changed!

    Links

    CILIP post on the Final Report

    Independent Diversity Review: Final Report

    Bookseller article: CILIP makes changes at Carnegie and Kate Greenaway following diversity review

    Guardian article: Carnegie medal promises immediate action over lack of diversity

    Updated (but always incomplete) list of UK BAME authors and illustrators

    Just a quick note to say that there are new names on the list but, as ever, let us know who’s missing!

    An Updated (but still incomplete) List of British BAME Authors for Children & Young People

    Stay a Little Longer by Bali Rai – Review

    Aman’s dad is gone, leaving her feeling lost and alone. She struggles to talk about it, but it’s a fact and he isn’t coming back. It just seems to be her and mum against the world, even against their family. When a lovely man called Gurnam moves into her street, it looks like he might fill a little gap in her life. But Gurnam has his own sadness. One that’s far bigger than Aman can understand and it’s tearing his life apart…A touching and evocative tale of unlikely friendships and finding happiness in the hardest of times.

    It is set in the outskirts of Leicester, Bali’s hometown, with a diverse and *real* cast of characters. Bullies try to intimidate Aman and Gurnam, who recently moved onto her street, comes to support her. Thus begins the friendship between him and her family. Aman and her mum aren’t religious but they go to the gurdwara for a friend’s blessing as well as celebrating Christmas both in their home and with their community in a new garden project. I don’t want to spoiler the story too much but the hard hitting emotional impact of this book comes from its sensitive portrayal of poor mental health and grief, as Aman tries to understand why Gurnam may have left his family and how she can make him realise that it is worth staying a little longer. There are some beautiful lines about loss and feeling sad, and some really heartbreaking scenes.

    Bali Rai has written a number of titles for Barrington Stoke (you all know how much I love Barrington Stoke) since their inception, all of which are perfectly pitched at their target audience, as well as a number of engrossing YA and entertaining younger readers for other publishers. Stay a Little Longer is, I think, one of his best so far.

    Peace and Me by Ali Winter and Mikael El Fathi – Review

     

    What does peace mean to you? This illustrated collection of inspirational ideas about peace is based on the lives of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the 20th and 21st centuries, among them Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai. A must for anyone interested in exploring this essential issue of our times, this child-friendly exploration of what peace means to you and me is a book for every bookshelf.

    Amnesty International endorses this book because it shows how standing up for other people makes the world a better, more peaceful place.

    This book is Lantana Publishing‘s first foray into non-fiction, and is both interesting and beautiful. Twelve Nobel prize winners each have a double page spread with a brief but fascinating snippet about their life and achievements, written by Ali Winter. It is targeted at 7-11year olds but I honestly think older children (and adults) will get something out of it too, I certainly wasn’t aware of all the laureates chosen to be included, they are a really diverse selection of people from all over the world.
    It is so colourful and eyecatching. The textures and layout of each page really make it stand out, but they fit together perfectly. Mikael El Fathi’s illustrations really give you a sense of what made/makes each person special.
    Definitely one for every school library, and hopefully lots of homes too! It is being published next week on 21st September 2018, The International Day of Peace, very appropriate.

    Children’s Rights to Read

    To mark International Literacy Day an important campaign has been launched by the International Literacy Association. Learn more about ILA’s Children’s Rights to Read initiative on their website.

    The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 26 October 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies, and you will find lots of information about it on the UN website

    #TeenLibrarian Monthly September 2018

    Download (PDF, Unknown)

    Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson – Review

    Matthew Henson was simply an ordinary man. That was, until Commander Robert E. Peary entered his life, and offered him a chance at true adventure. Henson would become navigator, Craftsman, Translator, and right-hand man on a treacherous journey to the North Pole. Defying the odds and the many prejudices that faced him to become a true pioneer.

    Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that I am a big fan of both Barrington Stoke and Catherine Johnson, so I leapt at the chance of a copy of her new title for them.

    This is the story of the first man to reach the North Pole, but not the man celebrated for it. It tells us about his life from the day he ran away from his step-mother’s home until the day he was finally (very belatedly) recognised for his contribution to the expedition. The language is simple but evocative, the characters that he meets are brought to life in a few words of description and then a boy’s (becoming a man’s) view of their acts. You’ll shake your head in frustration at his treatment at the hands of white people while on land, incompatible with his experiences adventuring. His acceptance of “this is how life is” is devastating but real. The three parts to the story are wonderfully highlighted by the vignettes on every page by Katie Hickey.I realised that Catherine Johnson has written about Matthew Henson for Barrington Stoke before, some of you might have Arctic Hero in your biography section of the library, but this is a far more personal vision of his life. A quick read that packs an entire life in, and what a life!

    For those of you that don’t know: Barrington Stoke have a well deserved reputation for creating very readable books to appeal to reluctant or struggling readers, having developed a unique dyslexia friendly font and pioneered the use of tinted paper. They have an ever growing catalogue of specially commissioned titles from an amazing range of authors for all ages/reading ages of children. These titles are always beautiful demonstrations of how, sometimes, less is more, and that a book doesn’t have to be difficult to read in order to be worth reading. If school librarians or teachers are reading this, look into getting your students signed up to be young editors.