Friday, 27 March 2009

Children under 3 and books

"Read! Read!" "Book! Book!": two children's responses to books, from birth to three.

This is a lecture organised by the University of Glasgow's, Department of Curriculum Studies, and UKLA (United Kingdom Literacy Association). Dr Virginia Lowe kept a daily record of her children's contact with books, and used this diary as the basis of a thesis and then a book. In her lecture, she will discuss her children's reactions to books up to the age of three, their visual literacy, understanding that the words come from the text not the pictures, recognising individual illustrator's styles, and etc.

The lecture is on Wednesday 1st April at 5pm, Rm 234, St Andrew's Building, 11 Eldon St, Glasgow.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Horn Book

The Horn Book for March/April 2009 has arrived. One of the longer articles, and several shorter columns, examine the importance of words and letters. For example, in A friendship of words (pp. 137-145), Susan Fletcher describes her relationship with her Iranian translator, whom she never met. She uses their friendship to illustrate that people need books from other countries to learn about the world.

In The adventures of Mommy Buzzkill (pp. 149-152), Catherine Gilbert Murdock asks: why are mothers so often absent in children’s adventure stories? Think about A series of unfortunate events, The secret garden and The lion the witch and the wardrobe, to name just a few from different periods. Murdock thinks mothers would be what she calls giant "buzzkills" - constantly advising "wear your helmet, finish your homework first", etc. She concludes that this is not to denigrate motherhood but to idealise it - a mother can't be in a story in which a child might need protection because she would instantly rush to his / her defence thus removing all danger and spirit of adventure.

In The campaign for shiny futures (pp. 155-161), Farah Mendlesohn asks why science fiction for children and teenagers doesn't get the same attention or respect as fantasy. She thinks that SF readers often have different priorities - they want literature to give them ideas and information and to teach them about the world, whereas realistic or fantasy fiction is more concerned with relationships and emotions.

Finally, Joanna Rudge Long, pp. 171-178, asks "What makes a good Three little pigs?" Answer (after comparing several versions): Some pigs!

Don't forget about The Horn Book website, including its newsletter, blog and podcasts.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Story writing competition - Bloomsbury's brand new online competition for young writers - is now live. This is a (very) short story writing competition that challenges 8 to 16-year-olds to write a piece of fiction in only 247 words or less. Each month a Bloomsbury author will write a 247tale on a particular theme and then it's over to the young people to create their own miniature masterpiece. This month it's Elen Caldecott. For full details visit Bloomsbury's 247 website.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Footballers champion reading

Leading Scottish Premier League footballers are supporting a new project which uses the motivational power of football to encourage families to improve their reading skills. Launched yesterday by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Premier League and the National Literacy Trust, the project involves a footballer from each SPL club who has chosen their favourite adult and children's book to create an inspirational reading list. These books form the basis for reading sessions with groups of parents and their children who will meet at libraries across Scotland. Read the full press release on SPL Reading Stars to find out which books the footballers have chosen.

Friday, 13 March 2009

James Jauncey

The latest Scottish Book Trust Children and Young People's newsletter has just dropped into my mailbox. This month, they feature an interview with James Jauncey, podcast here. Jauncey discusses his latest book The Reckoning, as well as his previous, Royal Mail Award-nominated thriller The Witness.

UKLA Children's Book Awards

The UK Literacy Association has announced its shortlists for its 2009 Children's Book Awards in two categories, 3-11 and 12-16. These are distinguished from other book awards by focusing on literacy, which is interpreted here as being about the expression of meaning and ideas through challenging use of language, imaginative expression, illustration and other graphics. The awards are also unique as the shortlists are decided by teachers. The winners will be announced in July.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Mo Willems

Mo Willems is the author, amongst other titles, of Don't let the pigeon drive the bus! - a very popular book in this library. The latest Notes from the Horn Book (an email newsletter) features an interview with him.

James Patterson

Each month, the National Literacy Trust interviews a well-known figure in the world of reading and literacy. In the latest interview, international bestselling author James Patterson talks about the importance of reading and how to get boys into books. Patterson is currently the most borrowed author in British public libraries and, although writing mainly for adults, has also written for children and set up the website ReadKiddoRead to encourage children to read.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Neil Gaiman

Go to the School Library Journal for an article about Neil Gaiman. It takes the form of an interview with Roger Sutton, editor of Horn Book. Gaiman, who started out as an author of comics, is on a roll just now, having recently won the Newbery Medal (American equivalent of our Carnegie) for The graveyard book and seen his earlier book, Coraline, filmed. Both titles, along with other books by Gaiman, are in stock at Jordanhill Library.

Carnegie / Greenaway awards

In a recent press release the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) described changes to the shadowing scheme for its prestigious book awards:

"Since 1994, teachers and librarians across the country have used the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards shadowing scheme to engage young people with quality fiction and picture books. This year CILIP has made major developments to the accompanying website. Building on the popularity of social networking sites, the shadowing website’s new features allow for more interaction between reading groups across the UK and overseas. Young readers will have increased ownership of the website and be able to customise their group’s homepage. New features will allow groups to:

  • Upload video content and write blogs
  • Design individual questionnaires and polls for everyone to participate in
  • Highlight favourite authors or illustrators from the current shortlist
  • Link to past winning books in the ‘Living Archive’ via the ‘step back in time’ function

CILIP is committed to promoting the library as a democratic, fun place in which to read and discuss books outside the classroom. The shadowing scheme helps children develop creative responses to reading and to interact and debate their favourite books with other young people and the website is an increasingly important tool to enable this."

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Some new journal articles

Two interesting journals have just come in.

February 2009's EnglishDramaMedia is a special issue on teaching poetry. Articles include Drafting, sharing, hearing, seeing in which Sue Dymoke writes about teaching poetry with ICT, and Poetry Online in which Jean Sprackland and Julie Blake introduce the rich resources of the Poetry Archive. (And don't forget our own poetry page).

Books for Keeps (March 09) has an article by David Wood who has adapted Philippa Pearce's Tom's midnight garden as a stage play. It's regular Authorgraph looks at Terry Deary, and it's Classics in short feature considers Edward Ardizzone's Johnny the clockmaker.

Find them both upstairs on the Serials Gallery.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

OU children's literature course

The Open University has a new course (EA 300) on children's literature, suitable for teachers and children's librarians. Participants will learn about the distinctiveness and purposes of children's literature, its prestigious and popular modes and its different representations of children's worlds. The course does this by providing a broad introduction to the vibrant and growing field of children's literature studies, covering children's literature in English ranging from its beginnings in eighteenth-century chapbooks and fairy tales, through seminal nineteenth-century novels, to contemporary examples of fiction illustrating current trends. It also includes the study of picture books old and new, stage performance and film, storytelling and poetry.