The Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation 2018 Adventure Writing Prize

Adventure is a broad genre and thrillers, crime, historical fiction or fantasy novels are often also adventure stories. With prizes from £1,500 – £15,000 and categories for young people to published authors, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Published Novel | Prize: £15,000

Novels must be published between 1st January 2017 and 30th April 2018. Proof copies are accepted.

Unpublished Manuscript | Prize: £7,500 Writer’s Adventure Research Award and guidance from Wilbur’s literary agents

Novels must be 50,000+ words in length and authors not represented by a literary agent. Self-published books are eligible.

Author of Tomorrow – short stories by writers aged 21 years and under | Prize: £1,500 and digital publication

Entrants must be aged 21 years and under at time of submission. Stories must be between 1,500 and 5,000 words.

Deadline for submissions: 12th March 2018

Full details are available on our website at: www.wilbur-niso-smithfoundation.org/awards

Poster Pack: The Dangers of Irresponsible Social Media Use

With Toby Young having made the headlines again for all the wrong reasons I thought that a series of posters that highlight the perils of irresponsible social media use may be of interest to Librarians that work with young people. These posters can be downloaded by clicking on the images below:

Opinion: #WorldBookDay YA Book Selection

Well the World Book Day YA books have been announced on the WBD site and via their twitter account. I was rather excited at the news until I read that the five full-length novels have a price of £2.50, or £1.50 with a World Book Day token.

What I have loved about World Book Day in the past is that it has offered all young people the opportunity to visit a book shop and choose a book that they can take home and keep forever. It feels discriminatory requiring older readers to pay anything when the younger ones are able to choose a WBD Book for free.

It will also limit the celebration of reading to those young people who can afford to go the bookshop or have parents/guardians that are proactive in getting them to read or at the very least to own books of their own.

I may be completely off-base here, but it appears (to me) that the organisers of World Book Day omitted the YA selection when they were putting the 2018 WBD selection together, were blind-sided by the outcry and cut a deal with publishers to offer some (truly excellent) YA novels as World Book Day books at as low a cost as they were able.

I know that the YA titles are fantastic, full novels, but many young people will balk at going in to a bookshop knowing that they will have to pay, either from the shame of being unable to afford even the nominal £1.50 or at the thought of having to pay at all.

In the past I have always considered the World Book Day tokens and celebrations on and around the day as one of the key weapons in my arsenal in the fight to get and keep young people reading. This year it appears that WBD will be of limited use with my older reluctant readers – and that is a crying shame!

A Change is Gonna Come: Review by Alison Tarrant


This is a collection of short stories and poetry by various authors, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds. There is a real range of characters, stories and settings here, but they were all a delight to read – though delight is not what I felt when reading.

The stories enclosed in this book are powerful experiences – Dear Asha by Mary Bello had me crying into my tea on a lunch break, Hackney Moon by Tanya Bryne is the story of first love and relationships with a brilliant ending that definitely had me reacting (but I won’t say how for fear of spoiling it!). Meanwhile Clean Sweep by Patrice Lawrence and We Who? by Nikesh Shukla talk about incredibly important themes in the current world – punishment, reality dramas, and the media while all the time being focused on the human impact – love, friendship, neglect, bullying and control.

The different stories chart the lives of young people in the UK, America and Nigeria, in refugee camps, and homes, and schools. It represents the world that I know exists, and that so often is lacking from fiction, particularly YA.

The foreword by Darren Chetty is powerfully written, and as an expression of hope and intent the book delivers exactly what it sets out to.

This is brilliantly followed by the poem by Musa Okwonga – The Elders on the Wall: “My choices are two:/Either I stand here,/Chip away at each brick,/Or… turn and run…” I think we all need to chip at the wall a little harder, and as a starting point I’d recommend you read this book, buy this book, borrow this book.

Then, ask publishers for more.

A Change is Gonna Come is published by Stripes Publishing and is out now

Library Advocacy: Correspondence with the Department for Education part 2

After receiving a response to my email to the Department for Education, I sent them a follow-up message

Question: RE: 2017-005541

Regarding the communication referenced above could I please request clarity on how “the government strongly support school libraries”

In what way is the support shown and how does the DfE go about it? Specific examples would be appreciated

Claiming that “It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian” is disingenuous at best as this approach clearly has not worked.

With the widespread closures of public libraries and the non-statutory nature of school libraries the claims that “teachers are expected to encourage pupils to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. Within the national curriculum, the programmes of study for English have been developed to make clear the importance of reading for pleasure.” 

and

“English language will encourage pupils to read a greater range of high quality, challenging literature and non-fiction texts drawing across a range of genres and types (from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries).”

ring hollow as without the support of libraries how are students expected to access texts to “read widely and often”?

I look forward to your response in due course!

Matthew Imrie
Librarian & Editor: Teen Librarian

I think I touched a nerve going by the response I have just received:

Dear Mr Imrie

Thank you for your email of 5 December about school libraries.

The government strongly supports school libraries because of the important role they play in encouraging young people to read for pleasure. Libraries remain hugely important, cornerstones of communities and part of the fabric of our society and our national lives.

Libraries are a local authority service, funded and run by local government. Legally, local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. It is for each local authority to determine how best to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service to their local community, within available resources.

As stated in our previous response to you, I should reiterate that as schools are autonomous institutions, it is for schools to decide how much of their budget is spent on school libraries and how much is spent on the national curriculum. The department has no say in this matter.

Furthermore, may be interested to know that public libraries are a local authority service, funded and run by local government. Legally, local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. It is for each local authority to determine how best to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service to their local community, within available resources.

I am sorry I cannot be of further help on this occasion however I trust you can see why the department cannot become involved at this time.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2017-0057472. If you need to respond to us, please visit: https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/YBK1O/

Yours sincerely

[redacted]

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk



Posters: Library Christmas Carols

Library Christmas Carol posters, adapted from the original carols.

to download click on the images


 

 

CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Independent Review

In June 2017 CILIP launched an independent review of the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals as part of their Equalities and Diversity Action Plan.

Today an interim report to provide an update on the work of the review has been released.

The Bookseller has a brilliant article that summarises the findings so far, you can read it here: ‘No more buck-passing’, says Carnegie Diversity report

To read the full report and register to take part in the consultation here: CILIP Carnegie Kate Greenaway Independent Review

Poster: Revision Tips

Library Advocacy: Correspondence with the Department for Education

As you will no doubt recall, on the 21st November I sent an e-mail to Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening and the Department for Education about School Libraries. you can read it here: Dear Justine: School Libraries Need Your Help!

I have just received a response from the Ministerial and Public Communications Division on behalf of the DfE which you can read below:

Dear Mr Imrie

I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education to thank you for your email of 21 November, about school libraries.

I can understand your reasons for contacting the department and can assure you, the government strongly support school libraries because of the important role they play in encouraging young people to read for pleasure.

We believe all children deserve to be taught a rich curriculum which encourages extensive reading of books and other kinds of texts, both in and out of school and school libraries complement public libraries in providing this. It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian.

Schools decide how much of their budget to spend on books. In addition, Booktrust works with primary and secondary schools throughout England and runs programmes and competitions such as Read for My School, that offer young people the opportunity to read a wide range of exciting material. You can view the information about Booktrust online at: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/.

You may be aware the national curriculum states that teachers are expected to encourage pupils to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. Within the national curriculum, the programmes of study for English have been developed to make clear the importance of reading for pleasure.

The department funded The Reading Agency in 2015-16 to expand its Chatterbooks scheme to set-up book clubs in 200 primary schools for Key Stage 2 pupils, where reading attainment at key stage 2 is currently low. This funding also supported those schools in enrolling their year 3 pupils with a public library. In 2015/2016, we also funded more bookclubs to encourage year 3 pupils to enrol in a library. In addition Poetry by Heart http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/ was also funded between 2012-17, to develop and support inspiring poetry teaching in schools, and to motivate pupils and teachers to explore England’s rich literary heritage. Pupils choose these from the anthology of over 600 years of poetry on the competition’s website.

In addition, we want to make sure that young people have access to qualifications that set expectations that match those in the highest performing countries. Employers and educators have continued to report that school leavers lack crucial skills. In 2012, more than two in five employers (42%) reported that they had organised remedial training for at least some young people joining them from school or college. Young adults in England were amongst the worst performers in literacy and numeracy in the OECD’s recent survey of adult skills. We are reviewing GCSEs and A levels to be robust and rigorous, to match the best education systems in the world and to keep pace with universities’ and employers’ demands. One of these changes is in English, English language will encourage pupils to read a greater range of high quality, challenging literature and non-fiction texts drawing across a range of genres and types (from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries).

Greater weight will be placed on pupils’ demonstration of accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar. English literature will encourage pupils to read a wide range of classic literature fluently, including 19th century novels, Shakespeare and the Romantic poets. In total, pupils will have studied at least three Shakespeare plays by the time they have completed key stages 3 and 4.

I hope this information is helpful and once again thank you for writing.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2017-0055419. If you need to respond to us, please visit: https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/YBK1O/
Yours sincerely

[redacted] 

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

Santa says Stop Cutting Libraries

A few days ago I was involved in a twitter chat the inaugural #ukslachat.

Question three was “What do you wish Santa would whisper about libraries into the ears of senior leaders & politicians?”

My answer is below, rendered into as a poster. Download a copy to keep & use by clicking on the image