…Wow, what an amazing day I have had. I took my rather brilliant reading group (The Reading Saints) to the Barbican today to attend the Carnegie/Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards. For those of you not in the know, the CILIP Carnegie Medal is the country’s oldest and most prestigious prize for children’s and young people’s writing. The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1956 and is awarded for “outstanding illustration in a children’s book”.
I have a whole host of brilliant quotes in my notebook, which I have rather superbly left at school, but I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow before sharing some of this experience with you. To say that it was fantastic would be an understatement. Apart from anything else, it was held in pretty swanky surroundings and there were canapés a plenty! To top that, the place was teaming with wonderfully talented authors and illustrators, all who were happy to speak with our children, pose for endless photographs and sign an untold number of autograph books (yes, including mine. I have no shame).
The well deserved winners were Jim Kay for his undeniably beautiful, yet eerie illustrative work and the rather lovely Patrick Ness. What was truly ground breaking was that this was a collaborative work, which scooped up both prizes. The book, of course, is A Monster Calls. If you haven’t read it, why not? It’s a book about love, facing your fears and hope. This was a theme which was alluded to in the speech given by the Chair of Judges, who really focussed on the power of the written word in the lives of children, and subsequently in all of us.
What struck me the most was the powerful support of libraries this afternoon. In a time when our libraries are closing by the dozen, or run by volunteers and machines, it was heart warming to hear the passion which so many in the book world have for libraries. They are places where we can escape, where we can find ourselves, become inspired and be inspirational. My message to you is this, visit and support your local library and librarians (they are exceptionally good at what they do) and also take a look at the Carnegie/Greenaway website. Anyone who can bring a group of children together in a reading group is eligible to take part in the shadowing scheme and I can happily say that it has been a truly positive journey, not just for the children, but also for me. The debates which this process has sparked have been at times quite fiery, which is what it’s all about. Let our children celebrate and explore the power of the written word.