Saturday, 28 February 2009

Julia Donaldson

There's an article in today's Guardian about Julia Donaldson. Best known for her Gruffalo picture books, she has now written her first book for older children. Running on the Cracks, for age 11+, is published on Monday by Egmont at £6.99. It's also on order for the Library. In it, the protagonist, a runaway, stumbles into the world of the mentally ill. It is a world Julia knows intimately. She navigated through it with increasing desperation for more than a decade with her husband, Malcolm, as they tried to help Hamish, their eldest son. This book is dedicated to his memory, and the article describes how the family has tried to cope with his eventual suicide.

Children's writing

In January, the National Literacy Trust held a policy breakfast, "Enjoyment, confidence and reading: the keys for the success of writing in the 21st century." At the event, a range of expert leaders discussed issues facing writing in schools, as well as the best ways to teach and support writing in the future. Bestselling children’s author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz led the discussion, throughout which, the group repeatedly stressed the absolute centrality of reading to writing. In fact, it is possible to tell what a child has been reading from the style and tone of
their writing. Children are sometimes identified as having a lack of imagination when in reality the problem is a poverty of reading. Children obtain imaginative building blocks from reading stories and reading is, therefore, essential to imagination and writing. You can read the whole report here.

World Book Day

World Book Day is next week, the 5th March. To mark it, we've updated our Read Around the World booklist, featuring picture books and stories set in a variety of countries. You can find it in the library, or on our Children's Booklists page.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Reading for Life

2008's National Year of Reading is over, but its organisers believe that its work to improve the reading opportunities and outcomes of people in most need should continue. They have therefore set out a statement announcing a new venture, Reading for Life. Its three target groups are:
  • pre-school children
  • those in their first few years of secondary school, especially boys, black and minority ethnic children, Eastern European children, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children, white working class boys
  • C2DE families, especially young fathers, disabled children, print-impaired readers, looked-after children, adult learners

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Special Children

The latest edition of Special Children has a couple of book-related articles:

In Story stampede, pp. 18-20, Sal McKeown finds publishers trying a wealth of approaches to help teachers motivate reluctant readers, such as graphic novels and audiobooks. She also includes tips for overcoming reluctance from Diana Kimpton of Wordpool.

Audiobooks feature again on pp. 22-24: Let’s hear it for the heroes. Teri Terry describes Young Calibre, a free postal audiobook library for dyslexic, visually impaired and physically disabled children.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Vivian French

Vivian French is the author of over 200 books for children and young people, many of which we stock in the library. The Scottish Book Trust currently has an interview with her to listen to on their website, and a chance to win some of her books if you enter their competition by 2nd March.

"Our children won't succeed if they don't read books"

Author Frank Cottrell Boyce argues in the Sunday Times that, as more libraries close or spend more on computers than books, the next generation's future is put at risk. A Unesco report shows that reading for pleasure is the single best indicator of social mobility so, to give kids an edge, don't pay for expensive tutors - take them to the library instead. He makes many more good points about a subject he obviously feels passionate about, illustrated with examples from his own family life. It's well worth reading the whole article.

The most borrowed children's authors

Figures released by Public Lending Right show that Jacqueline Wilson is still the most borrowed children's author in Britain's libraries, beaten into second place overall by adult author James Patterson. However, the most borrowed individual title in the last year was the final instalment of Harry Potter. The top ten is dominated by children's authors, highlighted below:

1. James Patterson 2. Jacqueline Wilson 3. Daisy Meadows 4. Nora Roberts 5. Francesca Simon 6. Mick Inkpen 7. Josephine Cox 8. Danielle Steel 9. Janet and Allan Ahlberg 10. Ian Whybrow

For more coverage of this story, see The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Bookseller.

Friday, 6 February 2009


A couple of American prizes to report. Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel The Graveyard Book has won the American Library Association's Newbery Medal. The judges said: "A child named Nobody, an assassin, a graveyard and the dead are the perfect combination in this deliciously creepy tale, which is sometimes humorous, sometimes haunting and sometimes surprising." The book is in stock in Jordanhill Library and also has its own dedicated website.

The 2008 "Cuffies" - or off the cuff awards - are chosen by children's booksellers. The Favourite Picture Book of the Year was won by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury's Ten little fingers and ten little toes, also in stock here. This didn't quite meet with universal approval - see Roger Sutton's Horn Book blog posting I can't quite put my finger on it, in which he expresses niggling doubts about its point that everyone has ten fingers and ten toes.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Anthony Horowitz interview

Each month, NLT News (National Literacy Trust) interviews a well-known figure in the world of reading and literacy. In the latest one, bestselling children’s author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz talks about the literacy issues closest to his heart.