Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Getting books to kids at Christmas

Any books in these parcels?
I don't need to tell readers of this blog about the joy of books and the importance of getting children reading, nor that many children do not have the advantages of growing up in a house full of books or with parents that take them to libraries. Libraries, are of course, very important - for one of the best, recent arguments of this, read Jeanette Winterson's impassioned piece in the Guardian - but there's something wonderful about holding a book that you actually own, especially if it's your first. I've come across a couple of initiatives that aim to put books in the hands of children who otherwise wouldn't have any this Christmas.

Books for Kids for Christmas is linked to the charity Children First.
Last year they raised over £3300 to buy books for vulnerable Scottish children at Christmas, as a result of which 380 children and young people received a book of their very own from Santa. The appeal runs until Sunday 2nd December. Nicola Morgan writes about Blackwell's Children's Book Tree - you can join in by phone if you don't live in Edinburgh, Oxford or Cambridge where they have branches - from which you choose a request from a child in difficult circumstances, and that child receives the book for Christmas. These are just two ideas - Zoe at Playing by the Book lists 125 book and literacy charities and, going off the book topic altogether, did you know that John Lewis has a gift list so that children in refuges get Christmas presents? List no 522953.

Happy giving!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Book Week Scotland - what will YOU do?

The first ever Book Week Scotland is nearly here - 26th November to 2nd December. How will you celebrate it? Or, in the words of the clever advert, where will you go? Check out the programme on the official site or, for updates, go to the BWS Facebook page or follow @BookWeekScot on Twitter (and use the hashtag #BWS2012 to join the conversation).

Here are some highlights for readers of all ages:

Celebrations in schools
Every Primary 1 child will be given a pack of three free picture books by Scottish authors. For secondary school students, a Poetry Slam will be broadcast live on Thursday 29th at 11 am - register via the link. Expect a new spin on the traditional notion of poetry with three poets, Dizreali, Paul Lyalls and Elspeth Murray, waging verbal battle against each other. There's sure to be lively debate, quick wits and lots of laughs. You can also download free learning resources to accompany the event.

The Reading Hour
This St Andrew's Day, Friday 30th November, stop what you are doing at 11am and pick up a book for The Reading Hour. This idea could also be used in schools (and there's another resource pack for that) - after all, reading is not just entertainment. It enhances the memory, improves vocabularly and opens the mind to worlds beyond our own. Not sure what to read? Two more ideas! Get a free copy of My favourite place  from your local bookshop or library - it's a collection of stories about Scotland's best loved places by members of the public and celebrities such as Sally Magnusson, Michael Palin and Alexander McCall Smith. You can also read the stories online accompanied by a photo gallery. Alternatively, contact the League of Extraordinary Booklovers for advice. The youngest of these is Edward Colvin at just 5 years old - that would make a good story for the classroom!

Reader Portraits Competition
While you, your friends or family are doing all this extra reading next week, why not take some photographs? Enter your reader portraits in the competition and you could win a Nook Simple Touch GlowLight.
Local events Your own local library might also have events on - here's the programme for Glasgow for example. I'll be helping them out on Monday morning by handing out goody bags to people spotted reading. I'm also intending to take part in the Reading Hour. What will YOU be doing?

Acknowledgment Thanks, as ever, to the wonderful Scottish Book Trust for organising Book Week Scotland. Here's hoping for every success!

Stop Press! Since writing this a couple of hours ago, I've discovered that the mysterious Edinburgh Book Sculptor has created 5 more sculptures for BWS treasure hunt. They'll be hidden around Scotland and clues will be released on the website every day next week. Read more in the Scotsman - happy hunting!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Katie Morag on TV!

The BBC might be taking a kicking at the moment, but here's something great it is doing! Mairi Hedderwick's wonderful Katie Morag stories are to be made into 26 fourteen-minute live action films for CBeebies - read more here. Katie Morag lives on the fictional Scottish Isle of Struay, but the themes will be familiar to small children everywhere - sibling rivalry, losing a favourite toy, and so on. If you haven't read these books yet, try your local library - the films won't go out till the end of next year so there's plenty of time to catch up.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Congratulations Seven Stories: National Centre for Children's Books

I've blogged before about Seven Stories, the fabulous Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Well, now it is officially the National Centre for Children's Books. I congratulate the centre on its accreditation and urge you to visit if you are ever in the area. If you can't do that, check out its website - it's the next best thing!