Friday, 31 October 2008

Philip Pullman and the censors

This is a bit out of date, but I'm having a Friday afternoon clear out! Philip Pullman's book Northern Lights was one of the most challenged books in the USA last year, where it is known, as was the film, as The Golden Compass. This was mostly because of its "religious viewpoint". The story was reported in The Guardian last month and Pullman himself wrote a piece on the evils of censorship in Check out our own Banned Booklist (books which have been challenged elsewhere in the past, not books we've banned, as a student once wrongly assumed!) In the words of Oscar Wilde:

"There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written, that is all."

Age ranging part 5

Time for another round-up on the campaign against age-ranging, which has its own site, No to Age Banding with lists of supporters and their comments. Perhaps the most impassioned is Philip Pullman's speech to The Society of Authors Conference. CILIP has also issued a statement in favour of the campaign which appears on the site, and which has generated some publicity in the Guardian and the Bookseller. More comment is forthcoming from the States, e.g. in Read Roger, the blog of the editor of The Horn Book magazine, Roger Sutton. While generally supportive, he's a bit critical of Pullman's speech, or "rhetorical pearls" as he puts it. Roger feels the speech is too much about the feelings of the authors and illustrators, whom Pullman calls "the people who matter most", and not enough about the feelings of the children who will be reading the books:

"They are the people who matter most in this question. They are the ones who will have to suffer walking around with a book they want to read but are officially too mature for; they are the ones who will be told "you aren't ready" for a book deemed Too Hard. The problem with the age-banding proposal is not that it ignores authors, it's that it ignores young readers."

It's difficult to fault that.

Friday, 24 October 2008

National Year of Reading - November

The November theme for the National Year of Reading is Screen Reads. On the Jordanhill NYR page I have listed books in stock which have been made into films or TV programmes. We don't necessarily have the corresponding DVD for all of them, but I've marked those we have.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Junior Education PLUS.

The November issue of Junior Education PLUS - teaching resources for ages 7-11 - is now available. Literature related articles are:

Lorraine Petersen on The power of poetry (pp 12-13). Discover how poetry can promote inclusive learning and open up experiences to SEN children.

Mind how you go pet (pp. 24-25) - Huw Thomas on using Emily Madden's book about a pet shop - Thanks for telling me, Emily. (In stock at Jordanhill).

A creative topic on fairy tales - various articles from p. 34.

Huw Thomas again on Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, which is about to be released as a film (p. 47). The book is also in stock at Jordanhill.

Reviews of sci-fi books pp. 59-59.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

More poetry

Last week's TES (17th October) had a couple of articles on poetry. In Poetry in decline, Helen Ward reports that Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, has warned that the teaching of poetry is being undermined by the free market. As fewer primary teachers appreciate verse, demand for new books to be published has dwindled. In Let verse loose in every corner of your school, Michael Rosen suggests that what is needed is a specific poetry curriculum and proposes some guidelines himself. To help you, don't forget our own Jordanhill poetry page!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Poetry competitions

The National Year of Reading has a competition for schools to win a visit from Children's Laureate, Michael Rosen. The closing date is 12th December.

The BBC wants primary school pupils to engage with learning and reciting poetry. Every primary school in the UK can enter a child aged 7 - 11 to compete for the title of UK Poetry Recital Champion, and the chance to represent their school and region in a BBC competition, to be shown on TV in spring 2009. The closing date is 19th December.

Age ranging part 4

The Education Librarians' Group (ELG) has come out against the idea of age guidance being printed on children's books. ELG chair Lucy Gildersleeves has made the following statement:

"We appreciate that some adults who wish to choose material for a child may be grateful for the guidance. We feel, however, that retailers already do a sufficient job of this kind of age banding via their shelf displays and that there are many suitable review guides which can offer advice for teachers.

It is ELG's opinion that such banding could easily embarrass and discourage readers who find their level is 'below' the indicated age - and equally it could hold back confident readers 'above' the level. We are familiar with the parental perception that "you can't read that because it's for older children". It is much more important that the needs and tastes of the individual child be considered - in libraries, in bookshops and by teachers - in line with the present educational commitment to a personalised approach, than applying a banding system that will either necessarily be too rigid or will have to be so encompassing to be too vague to be of any point.

We feel that publishers have experimented with this kind of banding in the past (and recall frustration at the time with what felt to us as readers 'wrong' targeting) and note that publishers dropped this attempt. We do not see the need to reintroduce it now, and that publishers seem to be confused about what they are really trying to achieve here."

You can also read the views of award-winning author Nicola Morgan on the website. She too is against age-ranging for many of the reasons outlined above, and thinks it's all just to make it easier for supermarkets to sell books. She gives some helpful suggestions for people who might not know how to choose books for children. Basically, go to a proper bookshop where there are staff trained to advise you. (Or of course, ask a librarian).

Child Education PLUS

Literature-related activities for 4-7s in the November issue:

Baddies strike back! The wolves and trolls in Storyland have had enough of being portrayed as the bad guys. Clare Bevan tells the real fairy tales - lots of ideas for turning the old versions on their heads. As well as the article, there is supporting material to download from the Child Education PLUS website. (The theme is continued in an art project to make a troll's bridge and in the book reviews page which features "ferocious fairytale fiends".)

Halloween. Primary school teacher Amy Arnold describes how she based her Halloween activities on Helen Nicoll's Meg and Mog books and Julia Donaldson's Room on the broom. Her class was excited to learn that Meg and Mog were going to move in with them and so the children needed to build them a house. This stimulated their reading and writing (sending letters to Meg and Mog) and their creativity in designing the house.

Poetry. Brenda Williams starts a series of poetry units for year 1 with Using the senses.

Favourite books. Caroline Sanderson writes about The growing story. Originally written by Ruth Krauss in 1947, this has been brought up to date with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. It tells the story of a year in the life of one small boy.

Start with a story. Jayne Gould suggests activities based on Julia Donaldson's The magic paintbrush. This helps children learn about China.

All the books mentioned are available in Jordanhill Library.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Journal round up

Sometimes children's book articles can be found in places other than the usual children's literature publications - here are a few from journals that have recently been added to stock:


Ma, J. (2008). “Reading the word and the world” – how mind and culture are mediated through the use of dual-language storybooks. Education 3-13, 36(3), pp. 237-251.


Kitamura, S. (2008). My places. Teaching Geography, 33(3), pp.148-149.
Author of picture books such as When sheep cannot sleep looks back at the places that have shaped his life.


Glenn, W. (2008). Gossiping girls, insider boys, A-list achievement : examining and exposing young adult novels consumed by conspicuous consumption. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(1), pp. 34-42.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Paul Bajoria and Debi Gliori

There were interesting articles on these two authors in last Saturday's (Glasgow) Herald. However, they were in the arts supplement which doesn't seem to be available online so I've put them in Jordanhil Library's cuttings file (no 1175).

Bajoria, author of the Printer's Devil trilogy, was writing about the attraction of sequels and how, while developing his characters, he became interested in his own family history. I didn't know these books at all - Mog and Nick are orphans who befriend one another in the London of the Bow Street Runners and public hangings, and it's only towards the end of the first book that they discover they are actually siblings. I've now ordered all three titles for the library.

Debi Gliori is much more familiar - we have all her books. This article deals with her latest, The Trouble with Dragons, an environmental parable which treads the line between conveying danger and offering hope.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Scottish Book Trust

The latest edition of the Scottish Book Trust email newsletter came out recently. They've added some audio content to their Royal Mail Awards site by recording Bunker 10 author J. A. Henderson's recent session for 12-16 year olds at their North Ayrshire event. You can listen to his full session and hear Garnock Academy pupils talking about their responses, as well as listen to an in-depth interview with Henderson himself. October's Book of the Month is Mike Nicholson's Grimm - if you have the misfortune to spend a night at Hotel Grimm, it may be the last night you spend anywhere! Or so the residents of Aberfintry believe. From its vantage point high above the town, the hotel has long been the source of dead guests and ghost stories. They have a competition to win a copy of the book which closes on 31st October.

Word Pool

Word Pool is a useful children's literature site for parents, teachers and writers. You can also sign up for their newsletter - the latest edition came through at the end of September and included, for example, news about new novelty books, a book on signing with babies, and the latest Terry Pratchett.