Saturday, 28 November 2009

A book lover's guide to building a brilliant children's library

Book corner: A book lover's guide to building a brilliant children's library, by Lucy Mangan in the Guardian, has reached its final round up. Her top 52 are listed below and the attached article considers some of the titles that nearly made it and had to be left out.

No 1 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster(1961)
No 2 Enid Blyton (1897-1968)
No 3 The Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley (1928)
No 4 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1909)
No 5 The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
No 6 Just William by Richmal Crompton (1922)
No 7 Private - Keep Out! by Gwen Grant (1978)
No 8 The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett (1937)
No 9 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-69)
No 10 The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (1950-56)
No 11 King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green (1953)
No 12 Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (1958)
No 13 Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (1955)
No 14 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)
No 15 Dimsie Goes to School by Dorita Fairlie Bruce (1921)
No 16 Autumn Term by Antonia Forest (1948)
No 17 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
No 18 The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (1956)
No 19 The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford (1968)
No 20 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (1963)
No 21 The Six Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren (1947)
No 22 A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich (1935)
No 23 What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872)
No 24 Life with Lisa by Sybil Burr (1958)
No 25 Charlotte's Web by EB White (1952)
No 26 The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat (1847)
No 27 The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)
No 28 Dear Teddy Robinson by Joan G Robinson (1953)
No 29 Tottie: the Story of a Doll's House by Rumer Godden (1947)
No 30 The Borribles by Michael de Larrabeiti (1976)
No 31 The Railway Children by E Nesbit (1906)
No 32 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)
No 33 Grow up, Cupid by June Oldham (1988)
No 34 Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian (1981)
No 35 Fireweed by Jill Paton Walsh (1970)
No 36 The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson (1968)
No 37 Grinny by Nicholas Fisk (1973)
No 38 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
No 39 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (1941)
No 40 Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time (1939)
No 41 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
No 42 Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (1912)
No 43 My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards (1952)
No 44 The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938)
No 45 The Trouble with Donovan Croft by Bernard Ashley (1974)
No 46 Ladybird books
No 47 Alices Adventures in Wonderland: by Lewis Carroll (1865)
No 48 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret: by Judy Blume (1970)
No 49 The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (1974)
No 50 Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (1908)
No 51 Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O'Brien (1971)
No 52 Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson (1948)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Author updates: Crompton, Grey, McKay, Willems

Some articles about authors which have been lurking in my inbox for a while:

Richmal Crompton in the Times.

Mini Grey in the Oxford Mail.

Hilary McKay in Bookbag.

Mo Willems in the School Library Journal.

International children's reading groups

Authors including former children's laureate Michael Morpurgo and the Carnegie medal-winning Frank Cottrell Boyce are taking part in a pilot project from the British Council that will link young readers in the UK with peers in China, Ghana, Egypt and Pakistan. In the case of Pakistan. the link is with Glasgow schools. See the Guardian report for more details.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Scottish Children's Books Award

The winners of the 2009 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books have just been announced. They are:

Early Years (0-7) Winner:

Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell

Younger Readers (8-11) Winner:
First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts by Larid Don

Older Readers (12-16) Winner:
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Acceptance speeches can be seen via Youtube

All titles are in Jordanhill Library.

School libraries in the developing world

I'm re-posting this from the CILIP Information and Advice blog:

Room to Read - school libraries in the developing world

The Financial Times' 2009 Seasonal Appeal is for Room to Read, a charity that promotes literacy and educational opportunities for children in the developing world. One of the ways they do this is by building and stocking school libraries, and as a result of their work libraries have been established in countries such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal. The FT reports that, at one school in Sri Lanka, a teacher described their new library as "like heaven for the children, a reader’s paradise".

Further details are on the FT website
See also

Monday, 23 November 2009

What do teens want?

In What do teens want Carol Fitzgerald details the results of the 2009 Reader Survey. It covers a wide range of topics including what teenagers read, when they read, who influences them, use of social media and e-books. Points to bear in mind are that most of the 11-18 year-old respondents (87%) were from the US, the results reflect teens who are already drawn to books (they did not study what keeps nonreaders from picking up a book) and, while they purposely marketed the survey to attract male readers, the vast majority (96%) of returns were from female readers. However there is still a lot of useful information to be gleaned from the survey.

Horn Book

Fanfiction, and what makes a good pop-up book are two of the topics in the latest Horn Book (Nov/Dec 2009) to come into the library. Other than that, there's a bit of  New Zealand theme with an interview with prize-winning author Margaret Mahy, including a poem she has written Christmas in New Zealand, and an article by Lynne D Jackett on the history of children's reading in NZ. For more information about Margaret Mahy, see the pages from Christchurch City Libraries where she worked before becoming a full time writer, and see our library catalogue for a list of the titles we hold.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Great resource for English teachers?

60 Second Recap: Every week, Jenny Sawyer, the host on this site, offers up the “inside insight” on a new book, a classic work of literature, and boils it all down to a handful of 60 second video recaps. It's a US site, but you'll recognise the books, for example, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird. Here's an example of how it works: the thumbnail for Lord of the Flies offers "Famous for: The Beast, a talking pig’s head on a stake, a horrific descent into chaos and savagery." Clicking on the link reveals a brief text summary and ten 60-second videos of Jenny's ideas entitled:
  1. A teaser trailer
  2. The overview
  3. The plot
  4. Meet the cast
  5. Simon
  6. Motifs
  7. Symbols
  8. Themes
  9. About the protagonist
  10. In conclusion
She's very enthusiastic - will that enthuse your students in turn?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Museum of Story & Storytelling (Oxford)

From Lewis Carroll's Wonderland to JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth, CS Lewis's Narnia and the parallel universes of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Oxford has played host to some of the UK's most enduring literary creations. Now a £2.5m donation from an anonymous private benefactor means the first steps have been taken towards the creation of a museum dedicated to storytelling in the city. Read reports from the Guardian and CMIS Evaluation Primary Focus.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Neil Gaiman wins Booktrust Teenage prize

Neil Gaiman has today won the Booktrust Teenage Prize with The Graveyard Book. The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens, a child abandoned in a graveyard after the vicious murder of his parents and sister by The Man Jack. Raised and educated by the ghosts that live there, Bod encounters terrible and unexpected menaces in the horror of the pit of the Sleer and the city of Ghouls. It is in the land of the living that the real danger lies as The Man Jack is determined to find Bod and finish him off. The book, and several other Gaiman titles, are listed in our library catalogue. See also the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph write-ups about the prize and Gaiman's own blog.

Michelle Paver

There's a feature in yesterday's Times about Michelle Paver, author of the popular Chronicles of ancient darkness series about a boy and a wolf saving the Stone Age world from demonic magic. Her research took her to Finland, Norway, Greenland and Canada where she had close encounters with polar bears, killer whales and wolves. She's just back from another fact-finding trip to the Arctic, this time for an adult book, so young fans will have to wait. You can borrow her books from this library here's a list from our catalogue.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Robert Louis Stevenson - new site

The life and work of RLS has been gathered together for the first time in a huge online archive which was launched yesterday to mark the 159th anniversary of his birth. As an example, if you look up Treasure Island you get a full synopsis and a virtual book with page turner facilities. It's not just books though, there are photographs, letters and other personal material, some of it never seen before in public. A Schools section contains information and resources for school students, including activity packs and a reading list. The site was put together by Edinburgh Napier University with a grant from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Paul and Chris tour the Highlands

In September 2009, Scottish Book Trust took Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, the creators of the multi-million selling Edge Chronicles, on a two-week long Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour of schools in the Highlands of Scotland. They've created an 8 minute video of the highlights.

Comic books

A new study in America finds that comics have no disadvantage compared to traditional prose. Carol L. Tilley, a professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois and expert in children’s literature, says that comics are indeed just as sophisticated as other forms of literature, and children benefit from reading them at least as much as they do from reading other types of books.

Book awards round-up

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize has been won by a "disgusting and horrible" story of a smelly man in an oddball town, Philip Ardagh's Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky. See an interview with Ardagh in the Independent.

The shortlist has been announce for CBBC's Blue Peter Book Awards 2010.

The Snow Goose (Paul Gallico) came top of a BBC poll to find the neglected novel most deserving of rediscovery.

Nominations have been announced for the Carnegie and Greenaway Awards.

We aim to stock all prizewinners.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ripping yarns.

We don't have a historic children's literature section here - ours is very much a working collection for teaching practice purposes. However, our nearest neighbour, University of Glasgow, has recently acquired a wonderful collection of items, dating from the middle of the nineteen century up to the nineteen thirties. It includes examples of all the popular contemporary genres, such as school stories, stories with a strong religious/moral element, and adventure stories. Find out more on their blog and flickr.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Children's book blogs

I come across more and more blogs, especially since I started using Twitter to find them, so I can't mention them all, but here are three I really like. Bookwitch has interesting posts herself as well as two useful features - lists of interviews with and links to the blogs of many famous children's writers.

If you want recommendations from young readers themselves, try these two. I'm impressed with East Renfrewshire's Teenage Book Blog, and The Books I Read which is by a 9-year-old boy living in London who shows amazing review skills for one so young (or for anyone really).

For other blogs, I will usually post here about interesting information picked up or re-tweet it on my own Twitter stream rather than the library one which I keep for more general announcements (including occasional reminders that this blog has been updated).

There's a useful article here on children's book blogs with links to 10 "you can't live without".

Gruffalo nation's favourite bedtime story

The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has been voted the nation's favourite bedtime story by Radio 2 listeners. Others on the shortlist included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and Where The Wild Things Are. The Gruffalo has also been adapted by BBC1 - with Robbie Coltrane in the title role - and will be screened at Christmas. Read a fuller report in yesterday's Herald.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Books for Keeps / Classroom

Lots of useful articles in these two publications which have just arrived in the library:

BROWNE, Anthony

Knight, G. (2009). Anthony Browne interviewed. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 18-20.


Foster, A. (2009). It’s got to be funny: about the Roald Dahl museum. Classroom, no. 9, pp.50-51.


Gibson, M. (2009). The war of the worlds? : classics, comics and ways of thinking about adaptations. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 11-13.

INGPEN, Robert

Hammill, E. (2009). Authorgraph no. 179: Robert Ingpen. Books for Keeps,179, pp. 10-11.

LEAR, Edward

Alderson, B. (2009). Classics in short no. 78: Single-poet collections? How about single genius? Books for Keeps, 179, p. 28.


Evans, J. (2009). You can never be too old for picture books: children’s thoughts about reading picture books. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 44-46.


Alderson, B. (2009). A conversation about poetry. Books for Keeps,179, pp 8-9.

Blake, J. (2009). “The road less travelled”: migrations songs by Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, George Szirtes, Fleur Adcock, James Berry, Fred D’Aguiar and Michael Schmidt. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 33-35.
Quick guides to six poems about migration by poets living and working in Britain who were born elsewhere.

Kelly, A. & Collins, F. (2009). A poem a day: student teachers and poetry. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 28-29.


Lewis, P. (2009). Books aloud. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 55-57.
On the benefits of reading whole books aloud to the class.


Collins, F. et al. (2009). Developing teachers knowledge of children’s literature: teachers as readers, phase ii. Books For Keeps, 179, pp. 6-7.

Goodwin, P. (2009). Literate classrooms: teachers, readers and books: a consideration of the importance of children’s books in the teaching of reading. Classroom, no.9, pp. 8-10.

Seven Stones competition

Do you know a child who would like to be a character in a book? Supported by several national organisations, the Seven Stones Competition offers just that - to be part of the new adventure series: Terry, the Torus and the Tumblestones. To enter, readers of the first book in the series should write about their favourite character. The judging panel includes representatives from: Federation of Children's Book Groups, School Library Association, Renaissance Learning, Booktrust and N. A. T. E. Entries are administered by Schools and Libraries, and full details can be found on the series website.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Boys and girls and literacy

Girls are often self-motivators when it comes to literacy while boys respond to a dynamic teaching style. But how do you engage one group without alienating the other? Nick Morrison's article In the balance (Times Educational Supplement Magazine, p23-25, 30 October 2009) explores ideas for engaging both sexes in the classroom and providing both boy-friendly and girl-friendly books.

Noddy is back

The first new Noddy book for 40 years has been published by Enid Blyton's grandaughter, see The Times for more information. Not sure the world needed any more Noddy books, but at least the golliwogs have gone.

Christmas books for kids

I was horrified to see Tesco had their Christmas tree up at the weekend and it was still Halloween. However, it got me thinking that if students are going out into school and teaching about Christmas they will probably be starting to look for books now. Here's the list of what we have on our catalogue - it's arranged with the newest ones at the top and is a mix of fiction and non-fiction. You can refine the search by choosing one of the other subject limits down the right hand side or, when you find a title you like, clicking on its subject headings to find more the same. There are too many to start making recommendations, but you can find those on other websites, e.g. Word Pool's Choosing Children's Books page has a section on Christmas.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A life in libraries: Library Routes

Ok, this is probably off-message for a children's literature blog but please indulge me this once. CILIP, the professional organisation I belong to, is promoting a page where members blog about how they became librarians, and this is my contribution.
I was a complete bookworm as a child. There were always loads of books around the house and my Mum and Dad took us to the library regularly. I kept my own books in strict order and decided aged about 8 that I wanted to work in a library - I had no idea what that really involved, I just wanted to be around books all day. I can't really say that the library staff I met as a child had inspired me. The only interaction in the public library I can remember from when I was primary age was getting a row from the lady behind the counter for not getting my sixpence (oh, how that dates me) for a request out quickly enough. I was more impressed at secondary age - by then, I was old enough to see over the top of the counter and was intrigued by all the Browne tickets and wondered how on earth they ever found mine (especially as they seemed to be in a different place each time). The only time I remember asking for help was when we had a kitchen planning project for Cookery and the person I asked took me straight to the right shelf which I thought was very clever. My school was a recently merged comprehensive, formed from separate boys' and girls' grammars on the same campus, so there were libraries in both buildings. The one for the lower school was unstaffed and we used it at lunchtime, mainly to hide from Lorraine, a rather scary prefect who was always looking for sporting duds to practice her netball team against. There was a librarian in the upper school, but I can't remember any sort of input from her at all. Things are so much better now with lots of wonderful school and public librarians encouraging children to read.
In my early teens I remember reading my way through the shelves of historical romances like Jean Plaidy - not exactly literature, but these (and an inspiring teacher) awoke my love of history and I moved onto "real" history books, all borrowed, so the library was instrumental in my development there. I wanted to study history at university, and went off to Sheffield to do so which put off serious career choices for another 3 years. In my last year, I did a bit of research, found out what librarians actually did and thought it was probably still for me, so started applying for graduate trainee posts - you had to have a year's experience before you could get into library school. However, there has never been any great career plan. Serendipity kicked in here and has done ever since, I went with the flow. I had no strong feelings about whether I wanted to be an academic or public librarian, but the first post I was offered was with Hampshire Public Libraries so off I went and had a great year. When it came to choosing a library school, going back to Sheffield seemed the obvious thing to do, and as part of the course you chose academic or public options. Because of where I had worked I chose the latter so that was my career set firmly on the public library path.

While I was at library school, I met my husband who lived in the student flat above mine. This is relevant because it meant there were now two careers to consider and any moves had to be to places where we could both find work. I spent time with Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and East Kilbride Public Libraries, before making the cross-over (again serendipitous) to an academic library where I have been ever since. I was fed up driving from Glasgow to East Kilbride through the rush hour traffic every day when I saw an advert for Reader Services Librarian at Jordanhill College which was within walking distance from our house. Now some people might think that is a terrible reason to apply for a job, and it's obviously not one you would ever divulge at interview, but it was my initial motivation - though I then looked at the job and realised I had a lot of transferrable skills to bring to it. I had built up substantial experience of customer service and staff management over the years and these are the same wherever you go. Also, although the stock is very different in some areas, the biggest group of students at Jordanhill is the trainee teachers and there is a large teaching practice collection of children's books which I already knew a lot about. So it was a good match and I have been here ever since. The institution has changed (now part of the University of Strathclyde) and the job has grown and changed immeasurably over the years but I'm still happy with it.

So what are my conclusions from all this?
  1. Libraries are terribly important in growing and nurturing young readers and they are so much better now at doing this than when I was a child. Even so, I became an avid reader, discovered what I was interested in and became a librarian all through using libraries. I hope in my career I've managed to help other people do that.
  2. You don't have to have a grand plan to be happy. Some careers just happen, and you fall into your niche. Sometimes compromises have to be made to get the work/life balance right.
  3. What works in one sector can work in another so if you want to make a change, just do it.