Over the past few months, you may have seen us write about our involvement in championing (and subsequently shadowing) the Junior Fiction category of the 2016 Peters Book Award- we definitely mentioned it a few times! The separate page we set up for our groups can still be viewed here , where it’ll remain for the foreseeable future. We recommend you take a look and in particular read the comments where some of our shadowing children shared their own thoughts and opinions on the shortlisted reads.
In the two weeks leading up to the official announcement, we held two celebratory events for our shadowing groups at one of our favourite local treasures, Norwich Castle. One of our SLS Librarians, Harriet, has written about the project, which we would like to share with you below:
Our initial aims:
- To take part in a national book award, which gives children the opportunity to vote for their favourite title from a shortlist of new fiction chosen by librarians.
- To promote excellent new KS2 fiction by less well known authors
- To encourage pupils to read critically and to express their opinions, sharing their views with other pupils, both within the school and with other schools, via the SLS blog
- To raise pupils’ confidence and self-esteem in voting for their favourite books
- To show how enjoying stories can be fun, with a final celebratory event for participating schools
How it all went:
We were delighted to be chosen as Champions for the Junior Book Award this year. We have been Champions of the Picture Book Award before, but this year we were keen to involve the pupils of our staff KS2 Reading for Pleasure Groups, one based in Fakenham, the other in Norwich. As the fiction award was split into KS2 and Teen for the first time, this seemed an ideal opportunity. We received a set of the shortlisted titles from Peters shortly before Christmas, ordered more for our participating schools to borrow, and encouraged them to get reading, straight away!
We set up a separate page on our blog just for comments and reviews from pupils about what they were reading, and also had a voting page. We were slightly disappointed that only one school used this facility, and felt it could have provoked really interesting exchanges between children, as the ones from this one school were fantastic – we loved reading and responding to their very thoughtful and articulate comments.
As Champions, Peters sent us promotional materials and a free set of the titles, but we had to buy more to supply the participating schools. As it would have been too expensive to buy complete sets for every school, we asked each of the two groups to read half in a few weeks, then swapped them over. This was a shame, but was the only way we could guarantee that each school did at least see all the titles in a relatively short time period. As all the titles were great reads, we hope that schools would feel able to buy their own copies for their libraries.
Before the closing date for votes, we held two parties, as grand finales to the process. We were absolutely delighted that one of the shortlisted titles was Cressida Cowell’s How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, which has been the subject of a wonderful exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum this term (on tour from Seven Stories in Newcastle). This coincidence meant that the perfect venue for our parties was the Castle Museum itself, and we are very grateful to the staff at the Museum for their kindness in allowing us an art gallery space, and time and assistance in running our events.
These consisted of a morning for the schools in the exhibition, with activities related to Cowell’s book, and after lunch our own party which consisted of an ice-breaker quiz, and a few drama and craft activities on some of the other titles. Finally we held a quick vote to see what came top for that day, and the pupils returned to school with very full goody bags of materials donated by Peters.
It was sad that not all the participating schools (ten) could attend the parties, with a few having to drop out at the last moment. We enjoyed the events very much, and we hope the children had fun too. We totted up all the votes, from the parties and the special page on the blog, and sent them off to Peters at the last possible moment to give everyone optimum time to vote. Again, not as many chose to vote via the blog as we would have liked, but we hope that plenty of children did read the nominated titles.
The results from the two parties were different, but the final favourite from Norfolk was, unsurprisingly perhaps, How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury. Nationally the award went to Jane Elson’s How to Fly With Broken Wings, which in Norfolk came tied fourth. After the announcement from Peters we sent certificates to all our participating schools.
For us in SLS being Champions of this Award was very rewarding, if hard work, as with a fairly tight time schedule everyone had to read and turn around a lot of books. Apart from the nominated titles themselves, which are all excellent, the parties were great fun, and the responses of the children on the blog were a particular highlight. It would be wonderful to expand this aspect of sharing the love of reading, and for children to feel they could be part of a county wide digital book group, which spread the word on which fun, life changing and simply great books everyone should be reading.
The School Library Service is very grateful to everyone who put work into this Award; to the staff of the participating schools, to the Castle Museum Education staff for their support and willing assistance in making the party days a great success, and to Peters whose initiative this is.
You can read accounts of our previous PBOTY events here (2014) and here (2015). We also recommend reading this wonderful account of this year’s event written by Moorland Primary’s Deer Class, who were one of our shadowing schools.