NEW GOVERNMENT – NEW INITIATIVES?
BfK invites David Blunkett, Education and Employment Secretary, to explain the thinking behind the National Year of Reading
I want the whole country to join forces with us to make the National Year of Reading a success story. By working together in partnership we can start to transform Britain into a more literate country ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century.
This campaign, which runs from September, is for everyone – children and their parents, teenagers and adults, avid readers, those who rarely read and those who find reading difficult or inaccessible. We want to transform the nation’s attitude to reading. We want to spread the message to every corner of the country that reading is important and enormously enjoyable. And we will not pack up and go home after 12 months. With your help this exciting initiative can make a lasting difference.
Reading is one of the fundamental building blocks of learning – it opens the door to success at school and at work. The Year is a vital part of our £59 million national literacy strategy to ensure that 80% of 11-year-olds reach the expected standard in English by 2002. It is also a key strand of our policies to promote lifelong learning.
We will publish later details of how we intend to evaluate the Year. But what we hope to achieve is:
* more children being introduced to books from an early age;
* more children and young people reading regularly;
* more families reading together;
*more people reading for pleasure and with increased understanding; and
* more people talking about what they read.
The National Literacy Trust, working closely with the DfEE, is making our plans a reality. The Trust has set up the National Year of Reading Team to take the work forward throughout Great Britain*. It has also published a special issue of its magazine Literacy Today** with lots of ideas on how to make the most of the Year. I know that many of you have asked about how you can get involved and what kind of events you can run. With this in mind we have issued detailed guidance for schools, colleges, libraries and community groups offering specific suggestions and advice for planning initiatives and events throughout the Year.
We want everyone to know what is happening at a national and local level – to be able to pick up and share ideas, to learn about what works and what doesn’t. To this end we are launching an Internet Website for the National Year of Reading in May. It is vital that you let the National Year of Reading Team know about your plans and your events so that they can be included on the Website.
Our planning guide Getting Ready*** shows just how much we have already achieved. I am delighted with the pledges of support in it from librarians, booksellers, publishers, the media and private companies. There are lots of exciting ideas emerging which we hope to be able to tell you about soon. In the meantime if you are raring to go please share your ideas with others around you, tell us, tell your local authority, get planning and go for it!
*If you want more information or would like to comment on or submit ideas for the National Year of Reading, you should contact The National Year of Reading Team, National Literacy Trust, Swire House, 59 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AJ (tel: 0171 828 2435, fax: 0171 931 9986).
**Copies of Literacy Today are available from The National Year of Reading at the address above.
***Copies of the planning guide Getting Readyare available free of charge by calling 0845 60 222 60 or by faxing 0845 60 333 60 quoting reference NYR2PG. Copies are available in Braille and on audio cassette as well as in Bengali, Gujerati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
Random House Sold
In an unexpected move that has rocked the publishing world the German media group, Bertelsman, which owns Transworld in the UK, has acquired (reportedly for £840 million) Random House Inc. and its subsidiaries in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Random House UK board learnt of the deal just before the press announcement. Random House’s children’s imprints are Jonathan Cape, The Bodley Head, Hutchinson, Julia MacRae Books, Red Fox, Tellastory and Andersen Press. Transworld has Bantam, Corgi and Doubleday Children’s Books. While Bertelsman is thought to favour autonomy for its businesses, economies of scale seem inevitable in the longterm. A narrowing of the opportunities for talented new children’s authors and illustrators in favour of the bankable also appears likely.
Scottish Book Trust
Book Trust Scotland is no more. After 35 years the board has decided to transfer this operation to the newly constituted and totally independent Scottish Book Trust. It will operate from the same offices in Edinburgh. Professor Rory Watson, Chairman (sic) of Scottish Book Trust said, ‘We’ll continue to work in partnership with Book Trust in London, but we need to meet the challenges of a developing Scottish scene as well, and independent status will help us to do this more effectively.’
A Sponsor for the Carnegie and Greenaway
Royal Mail are to sponsor this year’s Library Association Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. The deal will link the awards with the issue of stamps honouring the work of five of Britain’s greatest children’s writers including C S Lewis and Lewis Carroll.
Piccadilly Press which has made a distinctive name for itself as a zappy publisher of teen titles is celebrating its 15th birthday. Its latest venture is a range of attractive picture books for the very young.
The Roald Dahl Club/Books for Keeps Offer
If you would like a chance to win one of five FREE memberships to the new Roald Dahl Club, write to Roald Dahl Club/Books for Keeps Offer, Puffin Marketing, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TX. The lucky winners will be chosen at random.
Newly launched, The Roald Dahl Club aims to encourage literacy in children by providing the stimulus that will encourage the development of reading and writing skills as well as stimulating the imagination. Members will receive a fact file and will be encouraged to do crosswords, wordsearches and competitions as well as to send in their own compositions and illustrations. There will also be a Global Pen Pal network. Members will be mailed every three months. Membership is either £17.90 (includes a handsome Club box, a tape and a book) or £9.95.
To join write to The Roald Dahl Club, P.O. Box 3210, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 4YX.
Element Children’s Books
An unusual new children’s list, Element Children’s Books, believes in ‘exploring the mysteries around us. Sometimes these may be the mysteries of life, the universe, the unexplained and unexpected. Often they will be the simpler, but no less profound, mysteries of human relationships with friends, family and each other.’
Publisher Barry Cunningham and Editorial Director Elinor Bagenal’s launch titles are the sumptuously illustrated Element Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mind, Body Spirit and Earth (meditation, hand reading, prayer, sacred sites etc etc) and a series of ‘Cosmic Kits’ which covers such topics as ‘understanding the colours in your life’, ‘an astrological guide for you and your pet’ and ‘an essential introduction to aromatherapy for kids’. For older children there is a novel about how visualisation helps the hero overcome a menacing disease and non-fiction titles on reincarnation and the relationship between animals and humans.
As Cunningham and Bagenal put it, ‘our books will contain many and varied interpretations of life’s phenomena…’
COUNTDOWN TO THE NATIONAL YEAR OF READING
- The Poetry Society has launched a two year programme of placements and events thanks to a grant from the national Lottery Arts for Everyone scheme. For further information write to The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BU.
- Young people are to be consulted on how to make the Year of Reading appealing. A series of focus groups are planned in which children and young people will be able to give their views on the year and how it can be made to work for them.
- A national research programme into the reading habits of children and young people will be conducted in the run up to the launch of the Year of Reading.
- The Arthur Ransome Society is offering schools a susidised set of Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series. Details from Peter Willis, Sylvan Cottage, White House Walk, Farnham GU9 9AN.
For further information about the National Year of Reading contact The National Year of Reading Team, The National Literacy Trust, Swire House, 59 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AJ (Tel: 0171 828 2345, Fax: 0171 931 9986, e-mail: email@example.com).
BfS BEST SELLER CHARTS
TOP 10 BIG BOOKS, October ’97 – March ’98
1. Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allen Ahlberg, Oliver & Boyd, £11.99
2. Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear, Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth, Walker, £11.99
3. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, Ronda and David Armitage, Oliver & Boyd, £11.50
4. Six Dinner Sid, Inga Moore, MacDonald, £11.99
5. This is the Bear and the Scary Night, Sarah Hayes and Helen Graig, Walker, £11.99
6. Not Now Bernard, David McKee, Oliver & Boyd, £4.99
7. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, Walker, £11.99
8. Rainbow Fish, Marcus Pfister, North South, £16.95
9. Where’s My Teddy?, Jez Alborough, Walker, £11.99
10. Handa’s Surprise, Eileen Browne, Walker, £11.99
TOP 10 PICTURE BOOKS, October ’97 – March ’98
1. Farmer Duck, Martin Waddell, Walker, £4.99
2. Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork, Lynley Dodd, Puffin, £4.99
3. This is the Bear and the Scary Night, Sarah Hayes and Helen Graig, Walker, £11.99
4. Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allen Ahlberg, Oliver & Boyd, £11.99
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle, Puffin, £4.99
6. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, Ronda and David Armitage, Oliver & Boyd, £11.50
7. Funnybones: Dinosaur Dreams, Allan Ahlberg, Mammoth, £4.50
8. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, Walker, £11.99
9. Once There Were Giants, Martin Waddell, Walker, £4.99
10. Not Now Bernard, David McKee, Red Fox, £4.99
‘Big Books’ are flying out of the Books for Students showroom and warehouse as teachers stock up for the literacy hour. With such a wealth of titles available, it is not surprising to find Each Peach Pear Plum at the top of the list as teachers tend to plump for old favourites. However, judging by reactions at the Education Show, Rainbow Fish could soon be toppingthe list. Four of the big book titles also appear in their smaller format in the top ten picture books listing, reflecting the buying of multiple copies to accompany the big book.
These listings has been specially compiled for BfK by Books for Students from their sales data. Books for Students Ltd is a major specialist supply company to schools and libraries.
Happy 100th birthday to Kathleen Hale, creator of Orlando the Marmalade Cat. The first Orlando book appeared in 1938 and, with its large format and brilliantly coloured, freely drawn lithographed illustrations, was a landmark in children’s publishing.
Jane Nissen, Associate Publisher for Penguin Children’s Books, is retiring at the end of June after a long and distinguished career notable for her love of and commitment to children’s books, her joy in working with her many gifted authors and artists, and her pleasure in being able, through them, to contribute to the imaginative life of children. Books that Nissen commissioned have won the Carnegie Medal (four times), the Smarties Awards (three times), the Whitbread Award (twice) and the Children’s Book Award. Jane Nissen started her career at Puffin as a freelance reader of the slush pile for Kaye Webb. In 1980 she joined Methuen Children’s Books where she eventually became Editorial Director. In 1986 she returned to Penguin as Editorial Director of Hamish Hamilton.
Lindsey Fraser, the former Executive Director of Book Trust Scotland who resigned her post unexpectedly at the end of last year, has been appointed Executive Director of the newly established Scottish Book Trust. Kathryn Ross has been appointed Deputy Executive Director.
Trish Botten, Head of Services to Children and Young People for West Sussex County Libraries, has been appointed Professional Adviser, Youth and School Libraries at the Library Association. She succeeds Anthony Tilke who is taking up a post in Bangkok as Head Librarian at Harrow International School.
Philippa Milnes-Smith, formerly Publisher at Penguin Children’s Books, has been appointed Managing Director.
Su Swallow, formerly Managing Editor at Evans Brothers, has been appointed Publisher.
Neil Burden, formerly Head of International Sales, has been appointed Publisher of Levinson Children’s Books, now relaunched by David & Charles.
The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
Henrietta Branford’s Fire, Bed and Bone (Walker Books, reviewed page 30) has won the Guardian Chldren’s Fiction Prize. Chair of judges, Julia Eccleshare, said ‘Branford’s vibrant, polished writing makes this far more than either an animal story or an historicl novel’. The shortlisted books were Jane Stemp’s Secret Songs (Hodder Signature), Jamila Gavin’s The Track of the Wind (Mammoth, reviewed BfK No.107) and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Bloomsbury, reviewed BfK No.106).
The TES Information Book Awards
The winner of the TES Junior Information Book Award is Time and the Universe by Mary and John Gribbin (Hodder). The judges described it as ‘a tribute to the book’s power of stirring the poetic imagination through a firm grasp of physical fact’. The runners-up were The Ultimate 3-D Pop-Up Art Book by Ron van der Meer and Frank Whitford (Dorling Kindersley, reviwed page 28) and Walk with a Wolf by Janni Howker and Sarah Fox Davies (Walker Books). The judges were Dennis Ashton, Hilary Cooper and Tom Deveson.
The winner of the TES Senior Information Book Award is Big Bang by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest (Dorling Kindersley) of which the judges said, ‘this sumptuously illustrated book, authoritatively written and excitingly designed, is a real achievement’. The runners-up were Sharks by Christopher Maynard (Walker Books) and The Holocaust by R G Grant (Wayland). The judges were Sean Lang, Lynne Marjoram and Mark Williamson.
The Kathleen Fidler Award
Sponsored by Hodder Children’s Books, the 1998 award (for a first novel) has been won by Mark Leyland for Slate Mountain. It will be published later this year.
Mother Goose Award
The shortlist for the 1998 Mother Goose Award is Treasures: Little Long-Nose illustrated by Laura Stoddart (Walker Books ‘Treasures’), Motley the Cat illustrated by Mary Fedden (Viking Books), Fruits: A Caribbean Counting Poem illustrated by David Axtell (Macmillan Children’s Books) and Come on, Daisy! illustrated by Jane Simmons (Orchard Books).
Arts Council Children’s Literature Summer School
The fourth Arts Council children’s literature summer school, Broadening Horizons, will be held from 24-27 August 1998 at Westminster College, Oxford. Groups involved in children’s books are offered an opportunity to mount an exhibition at the summer school free of charge. Details from Keith Barker, Orchard Learning Resources Centre, Hamilton Drive, Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6QW (Tel: 0121 415 2255).
Poet Gerard Benson is running a course for people who wish to write poetry from 2-8 August at Missenden Abbey. Details from Missenden Abbey Residential Centre, Great Missenden, Bucks HP16 OBD.
Read On! Write On! (1 873217 03 X) edited by Jan Clements and Marjorie Taylor is a very useful guide to getting the most out of author/illustrator visits. £5.50 from Northern Children’s Book Festival, c/o North Tyneside Children’s and Young People’s Service, St Edmund’s Building, Station Road, Backworth, Tyne and Wear NE27 ORU.
Welsh Books and Educational Resources for Children is an annotated listing of 3,500 children’s titles in Welsh. Available free from the Children’s Book Department, Welsh Books Council, Castell Brychan, Aberystwyth SY23 2JB.
Write Around the World (0 7049 1265 1) by Sue Walker, Viv Edwards and Heather Leonard is a guide to producing bilingual resources in the classroom, including dual texts and story books. £4.95 from the Reading and Language Information Centre, The University of Reading, Bulmershe Court, Earley, Reading RG6 1HY. Cheques to be made payable to ‘The University of Reading’.
Walker Books has requested that we print the following correction further to our News item (BfK No.109), Walker QUEST:
Walker Books has set up a new trust, a QUEST (qualifying employee share ownership trust), to buy the 49% of the company owned by the Cecil family. The new trust will issue shares in Walker Books to employees, authors and illustrators. Before his death in 1991 Sebastian Walker set up the Walker Books Employee Trust which owns 51% of the company.