Themes and dragons

Just a brief post to mention that the Reading Agency have decided on their theme for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge – ‘Creepy House’, with illustrations by the well-known author Chris Riddell.The Reading Mission

As with each and every Reading Challenge, there will be various levels to explore – this time The Awful Upstairs, The Gruesome Ground Floor and The Spine-tingling Cellar…

I never fail to be impressed by the theme ideas that The Reading Agency come up with year-on-year – from Circus Stars to The Reading Mission, to Space Hop and many more since 1999. As they say – they always ensure that they suit both genders and cover a wide age range, to entice as many children as possible to take part.

Circus Stars

The themes allow libraries and schools to get creative with displays and events to make The Challenge the centre of attention at libraries during the summer weeks, so that children really feel they’re a part in something big. When I worked at a Bristol library, I remember the effort we would make to promote The Challenge and make it as exciting as possible for every child. Take this big dragon, below, that I made one evening for the Quest Seekers theme! Now that was a lot of cutting and gluing…

“The annual Summer Reading Challenge helps gets three quarters of a million children into libraries to keep up their reading skills and confidence. Because everything changes when we read.”

– The Reading Agency
Quest Seekers

And the Winners Are…

The winners of the Red House Children’s Book Awards for 2013 were announced last night at an awards ceremony at London’s Southbank Centre. And the winners are:

Overall Winner: Spooky, Spooky House by Andrew Weale (Younger Children category)

Spooky Spooky House by Andrew Weale

Younger Readers category: Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

Older Readers: The Medusa Project: Hit Squad by Sophie McKenzie

The Medusa Project: Hit Squad by Sophie McKenzie

Good News for Children’s Library Loans

First of all, Happy National Libraries Day everyone! And what better way to celebrate than with some good library-related news…

Recent data provided by the Public Lending Right (PLR) has demonstrated an increase in the borrowing of children’s books from UK libraries, according to a Bookseller report on Friday.

The PLR data is based on a sample of UK book loans between July 2011 and June 2012 which, although showing a trend towards a decline in adult book loans, shows that children’s book loans are marginally increasing.

Some facts of interest:

  • Six of the 10 most borrowed authors in 2012 were children’s authors
  • 30 of the top 100 Nielsen BookScan library data titles were children’s books – an increase from 24 in the previous year
  • Whereas 39% of the top most borrowed books in 2011 were children’s titles, this rose to 42% in 2012.

Children's library loans are upSurrey County Council in particular has recently reported that its children’s library loans were up 60,000 (4 per cent) from 2011, with a quarter of Surrey’s libraries’ stock now consisting of children’s titles.

Some methods used by libraries to encourage children’s visits include free book requests, no late return fees and events for children throughout the year.  These are just some ways that libraries aim to encourage a joy of reading in children from an early age. I personally remember the sheer number of events and promotions we held at all times of the year during my time working in a Bristol library, and the delight me and my colleagues would feel at signing up a new member – being able to introduce them to a whole new world of exploration. Hopefully, this is promising news for many libraries around the country, as a sign that children are responding to their efforts.

Quentin Blake is knighted

I was thrilled to hear that Quentin Blake has been knighted in the New Year honours list.

Quentin BlakeKnown perhaps most widely for his illustrations for Roald Dahl’s stories and his drawings during episodes of Jackanory in the 1970s, as well as his support for hospitals and health centres around the country, Blake has apparently referred to the honour as ‘quite a nice 80th birthday present’.

Since the illustrator has just moved to Norfolk, two new exhibitions will be held in the area to display some of his work, including ‘The World of Quentin Blake’ at the Diss Corn Hall Gallery (until February 2nd) and ‘Quentin Blake: Drawn by Hand’ at the The Big Draw Quentin BlakeFitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (February 12 to May 12).

A new museum, The House of Illustration, is also due to open near King’s Cross in London in early 2014, to which Quentin Blake has pledged his archive of more than 4,000 drawings and 250 illustrated books. You can find out more about it by following this link. I can’t wait!