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Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2018

On Thursday 28 June, Redbridge Town Hall was packed with excited and  enthusiastic readers and writers to celebrate the 2018 Redbridge Children’s Book Awards.  Polly Ho-yen wowed the audience, talking about her writing and answering students’ questions.  During the break, a long queue of students eager to get books signed, snaked around the hall.

Students from 14 secondary schools and 9 primary schools across Redbridge and Newham voted for their favourite children’s and teenage book published in 2017.  These are their choices.

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan, won the Children’s category.

Warcross by Marie Lu won the Teenage category.




Love Your SLS

We had a great day on Wednesday, not only was it my birthday but also #loveyoursls day, showcasing the wonderful work of Schools Library Services around the UK

#loveyoursls Twitter extravaganza

SLA Read 80 Photographic competition

To mark the SLA’s 80th birthday in 2017 they are holding a photographic competition Read80 to celebrate reading for pleasure and the impact school libraries have.  You are encouraged to take photographs that show people of any age celebrating the joy of reading and to submit them to our competition. Images can be uploaded onto Instagram or Twitter with the #SLARead80 – all images tagged will be entered into the competition. When submitting via Instagram additionally add the hashtag #bookstagram.

The competition will be open for entries from 1 September 2016 to Friday 23 December 2016. A selection of entries may be included as part of a celebratory publication during 2017.


  • Judges’ decisions are final.
  • Photographs must be digital in format and can only be submitted by the photographer.
  • Photos to be taken during the competition run dates, please do not use photos from before these dates.
  • Permission for use by the SLA on their website, in publications and other promotional material is granted and assumed by entry into the competition. Entrants to ensure all relevant permissions are sought before entering the photo in the competition.
  • Entrants don’t have to be a member of SLA to enter.

The judging panel comprises Barbara Band, Jodi Brooks, Joy Court, Sally Dring, and Bev Humphrey plus a celebrity author judge, to make the final choices from the panel’s shortlists.  There will be prizes for both Junior (student) and Senior (adult) sections

A Primary School Librarian’s List Of 125 Books That A Child Might Want To Read.

An interesting list especially useful for setting up a new library

A Medley Of Extemporanea

these are your kids on books

The publication of yet another list of the “top 100 books” that children “should” read in primary school raised an extensive discussion on social media about the books chosen. Whilst the books on the list are undeniably classics, and books of quality, do they actually represent the kind of books that will nurture a love of reading in children, or is this instead a list of national curriculum and Amazon favourites?

To challenge that list I give you the list of an experienced primary school librarian. These books are the ones that I know have created delight in young readers and have been loved with a passion. You might not agree with all my choices (and some of them are not to my personal tastes) but these have all been loved by REAL CHILDREN who devoured them and wanted more after finishing them. These are not only books that children…

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Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2016

On Thursday 7 July 2016, over 230 enthusiastic readers, budding writers along with their school librarians and teachers celebrated this year’s Redbridge Children’s Book Awards in a buzzing, exciting ceremony at Redbridge Town Hall.

Students from 17 secondary schools and 8 primary schools across Redbridge, Havering and Newham voted for their favourite children’s and teenage book published in 2015.

Car-jacked by Ali Sparkes, won the Children’s category and One by Sarah Crossan won the Teenage Category.

carjacked      one


Ali Sparkes

We were delighted to three of the shortlisted authors present at the awards ceremony – Ali Sparkes, Holly Bourne and Teri Terry.  Sarah Crossan, who won the teenage award,  was unable to attend but sent a message saying  “I’m so delighted to have won The Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2016. Regional awards are so important in inspiring young people to try new books, and I’m just so sad I can’t be there to celebrate the shortlisted titles. I really hope you’ve all enjoyed reading the books and I do hope to meet some of you soon for book chats. Lots of love Sarah

It was also a chance for the winners of the writing and poetry competitions to be presented with their prizes.  The poetry competition was judged by David Fulton, lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University and the short story competition was judged by author and Head of Bancrofts Prep School, Joe Layburn


Mia Thomas from Fairlop Primary won the junior poetry competition with her poem, 5 Senses.  Ayesha Ahmed from Woodford County High School  won the teenage category with the poem Am I Invisible.


Suamaya Zanab from Wanstead High School won the junior short story competition with her story, Change .  Annie Walker from Wanstead High School won the teenage  category  with her story, The Miserable Life of Ernie Thomas .  Winners were presented with a book token, a fiction book and a copy of this year’s anthology of all shortlisted poems and stories.


Many thanks to everyone who attended, especially the authors who gave up their time to be present, students and teachers who participated so enthusiastically and most of all, my team in the Redbridge Schools’ Library Service who worked  very hard behind the scenes to ensure the afternoon was such a success.


BookTrust School Library Pack

The School Library Pack is a BookTrust reading for pleasure programme which is available free to any secondary school or education provider in England with Year 7 students.   

Containing over 40 free books, the pack can not only boost your library resources but also encourage students to try different types of books they might not usually consider reading.

Registration for School Library Pack 2016-17 is now open
Sign up for the free School Library Pack

What’s included:

Your pack will include more than 40 books from a range of genres and supporting resources that aim to help staff create a reading culture that reaches all students. The pack encourages students to talk about reading and join in activities such as reading groups. School Library Pack titles will include sets of: Future classics, Reluctant Readers and Short Story Collections.

We also offer an alternative pack of 10 carefully chosen books for special schools. 

A “kitemark” scheme for badging school libraries

CILIP’s Policy Committee will be holding two or three Policy Inquiries a year and the first Inquiry will revisit the schools agenda.  The purpose of this Inquiry is to determine the value and feasibility of developing and marketing a quality mark (or “kitemark”) scheme for badging secondary school libraries. The aim of such a scheme is to improve teaching, learning and pupil achievement within schools by increasing understanding amongst school leaders of the role of qualified school librarians and the importance of effective school libraries.   Click here for an Inquiry Briefing Paper.

An outline scheme will be developed during the Inquiry.  The scheme will use the CILIP Guidelines for Secondary School Libraries (3rd edition) as a key source.

The Policy Unit is currently gathering evidence for this Inquiry and we have designed this short survey to gather your views on the readiness and willingness of the school library community for such a scheme.

The survey will be open until July 4th 2016.
If you have any questions please contact Yvonne Morris on 020 7255 0629 or at

The Branford Boase Award Shortlist 2016

The six-book shortlist for the prestigious 2016 Branford Boase Award has been announced.

The Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. It also honours the editor of the winning title. Among the judges this year are Russell Allen team leader for children’s services across the West Sussex Library Service, Simon Key, bookseller from the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green; Marion Lloyd, former children’s editor; and Rosie Rowell, author of Leopold Blue, winner of the 2015 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, who is now in charge of the Hay Fever section of the Hay Festival.

The 2016 shortlist

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare, edited by Penny Thomas. Illustrations by Jane Thomas (Firefly Press)

Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr, edited by Ben Horslen (Penguin)

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, edited by Ben Horslen. Illustrations by Ross Collins (Penguin)

My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons, edited by Kirsty Stansfield (Nosy Crow)

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford, edited by Nicholas Lake (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, edited by Bella Pearson (David Fickling Books)

Julia Eccleshare said: “All areas of the children’s book market are flourishing so this list includes books for young readers and for teenagers. It reflects current trends and features some wildly inventive books that play with language and ideas; a time travel story; a book that explores a transgender teenager’s struggle with identity; a book about a parent’s depression. They are all distinguished by the quality of the writing, the author’s ability to control plot and create character, and by an originality of approach.”

The winner of the 2016 Branford Boase Award will be announced on Thursday July 7 at a ceremony in London. The winning author receives a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.

Dorset’s school library service is to be scrapped, the county council has agreed.

I was very sad to read this from BBC Online this morning and especially reading that only 35 of the 254 schools consulted, responded.  This emphasises the urgent need to raise the profile of Schools Library Services around the country.

Being dependent on school subscriptions makes us  vulnerable to closure and each new financial always brings deep anxiety about how many schools will buy back.

Sympathy and empathy to colleagues at Dorset SLS and also Berkshire, which is also closing.

Dorset’s school library service is to be scrapped, the county council has agreed.

The service, which provides books and training to schools, will end after the summer term, the authority’s cabinet has voted.

It is currently used by 73 schools across the county, including in Bournemouth and Poole.

The council said it was not required to provide the service which was “no longer financially viable”.

Some books provided by the service will be distributed across the county council’s other library services, which includes 33 libraries – eight of them community-run.

Others will be offered to schools – with those currently using the school library service given preference.

The move follows consultation with 254 schools – 35 of which replied – in March, the council said.

“Given the trend of falling income in the last 10 years and the reduced take up from schools, the forecast for 2016/17 is that the expenditure will be more than the income by a considerable amount,” the authority said.

Too many school libraries ‘face cuts or closure’

7 April 2016

Child in school library

Too many school libraries in England face cuts or closure with schools increasingly viewing books as obsolete, a teachers’ union has heard.

One head teacher decided “all reading can be done on iPads,” a delegate told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference.

The union voted to lobby for libraries to be included in Ofsted inspections.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said that school libraries “played a vital role”.

Cathy Tattersfield from Derbyshire quoted international evidence suggesting a positive correlation between good school libraries and student attainment.

Ms Tattersfield said she had been “shocked” that two secondary academies had “recently closed or attempted to close their libraries and several of them have had their librarian hours or posts cut, mostly in the ex-mining areas of Derbyshire”.

A survey of 485 ATL members last month suggested a patchy picture on library provision said Ms Tattersfield.

“It seems to be feast or famine.

“Some secondary provision is fine, cherished and secured,” – but others faced reduced opening hours, conversion to e-learning centres, cuts in staff hours, or librarians having been removed or replaced by support staff or teachers.

“We identified a third of secondary schools have had cuts of 40% or more since 2010, with 20% redundancies in library staff at their school.”

Another delegate said his school library, closed last year, had provided a host of benefits to pupils, from paired reading for special needs pupils to introducing able readers to new authors and running a range of enrichment activities.

girl readingImage copyrightThinkstock
Image captionMost schools still have a library, suggests a survey of ATL members

He said the library’s books and magazines had been distributed among subject departments.

“Lesley Mumbray-Williams whose school dispensed with her services as librarian said a third of the stock had ended up in skips within three weeks of her leaving.”

Another delegate said the librarian post in their school had not been filled and the library doors were often locked.

Of the education staff who responded to the survey:

  • Almost all (94%) said their school had a library
  • But more than two fifths (41%) said the library did not have enough space for all the students who wanted to use it
  • And nearly a third (32%) said their school did not have a designated librarian to manage the library.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We want all children to read widely and well and believe school libraries can play a vital role in fostering that love of reading.

“We trust schools to decide on whether to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils.”