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SLA Blog » May 2007RSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

New Advisory Librarian for SLA

We are delighted to announce that our new Advisory Librarian, Sally Duncan, has begun work at the SLA office this week.

Sally has been working with school libraries and librarians for the past 12 years, and says:

"I started my career as a chartered academic librarian in London then after a career break to look after my two sons I trained as a primary school teacher at Bishop Grosseteste in Lincoln. At the end of my course a great opportunity came up to work with the School Library Service in Lincolnshire, it was such an enjoyable and rewarding experience that I'm still involved with school libraries now and pleased to be in a position to help raise their profile in schools and in the wider community.

After working in Lincolnshire for 6 years I moved to Essex Schools Library Service as Principal Library Advisor, working as part of the Advisory and Inspection Service in Essex. I moved to Oxfordshire in 2005 and became the Library Manager at BCA (Berkshire College of Agriculture) and had the opportunity to oversee the building of a new Learning Centre and to manage the library move to the new premises and was then tempted back into advisory work by the advertised post at the SLA."

We welcome Sally and are looking forward to her being part of the team and supporting members through both indivudual advice and development of online resources in the members' area.

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Minister launches Boys into Books at SLYA Awards

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, today invited every maintained secondary school in England to choose 20 free books for their library as part of a major drive to encourage more teenage boys to read for pleasure.

Schools will be able to select the books from a new Boys Into Books list created by the School Library Association (SLA). It has put together a collection that incorporates classic novels with action, adventure, fantasy, crime, horror and sports titles, as well as fact-based books, history and humour. Schools can also use the list to target their own library spending on boys' reading.

In addition to the 20 free books, which they can choose from the 170 titles on the list, eligible schools will also receive two sets of specially designed posters and 450 postcards to help promote reading to the target group of students.

The initiative is designed to encourage 11 to 14 year old boys to re-ignite their passion for reading at secondary school. It follows research showing that, while many boys read for pleasure at primary school, this good habit tends to fade after the age of 11, resulting in a significant "reading gap" between boys and girls in their early teens.

Announcing the free books initiative, Alan Johnson said:

"Kick-starting a young person's passion for reading can help them on so many levels. We know there is a clear link between reading for pleasure and academic performance - not just in English, but across the whole curriculum. Beyond this, of course, reading can enrich their lives by freeing their imagination, inspiring creativity and developing intellectual curiosity.

"Boys tend to read less than girls, and some lose the reading bug completely after they change schools at 11. This initiative will help boys re-acquire the reading habit, and try out a wider range of great books. It links to all our other work with partners – including the Reading Association, the Literacy Trust, and of course schools – to improve literacy.

"The book list that schools can choose from has been drawn up by librarians, who have carefully researched what books excite this age group. It blends classic literature with modern titles and spans a full range of genres and reading levels.  So whatever a young person’s particular interest or ability may be, there should be something to interest and excite them."

Speaking at the School Librarian of the Year Awards in Birmingham, where the Boys Into Books list was officially unveiled, Schools Minister Jim Knight also paid tribute to the work of school librarians and in particular to Ingrid Hopson, who works at George Abbot School in Guildford and has been named as this year’s winner of the SLA’s School Librarian of the Year award.

"The dedication, passion and professionalism of school librarians are considerable assets to schools," he said.

"People like Ingrid fulfil an extremely important role in sparking young people’s interests in books and ensuring that children from all backgrounds get the chance to read a broad range of literature."

Gervase Phinn, President of the School Library Association, presenting the award to Ingrid at a ceremony at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on 16th May 2007, commented:

"Books are fundamental to human experience; they develop children’s thinking, foster new knowledge, excite the imagination and help us make sense of the world. Books play such a vital part in learning. At the very top of the list of those who encourage children to read and to love books are the school librarians. Their enthusiasm, commitment and hard work ensure that young people have regular access to the very best books and the finest advice."

The Boys into Books list is available on the SLA website at http://www.sla.org.uk/boys-into-books.php .

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Booktrust Teenage Prize 2007

Schools and youth organisations are invited to sign-up and to order free display materials for the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2007. Running the announcement of the shortlist  on Tuesday 4 September the announcement of the winner on Wednesday 31 October, the Booktrust Teenage Prize is a great way to engage young people with reading. If you would like to feature the 2007 Booktrust Teenage Prize as part of your work with young people from the start, please complete the online order form by Monday 18 June 2007. 

What do you get if you sign-up?

  • Free display materials (banners, posters, bookmarks, stickers)
  • Free downloadable Booktrust Teenage Prize resources and ideas pack
  • Opportunity to promote teenage readers groups and events on the Booktrust Teenage Prize website
  • Support from TRA Project Manager  

What does running the Project involve?
The Booktrust Teenage Prize is a flexible, ready made reading promotion. You can use it to promote reading for pleasure to young people, with teenage reading groups and young people focused events. TRA will supply lots of reader development ideas and support so you can make the most of the initiative. Evaluation from the 2006 Project has informed 2007's and the same will happen this year. Some of the shortlisted authors may be available for booktalks and workshops. 

Young People's Competition to be Prize Judges:
Over 2000 young people entered the competition in 2006 to be one of judges for the Booktrust Teenage Prize. To win the opportunity to decide on this year's best book for young people and to attend the glamorous awards ceremony in London in October entrants are asked to write a short story in no more than 500 words on the theme of ‘Time Travel'. Young people can write about the past, present or future and the judges are looking for imaginative, gripping and dramatic stories. The competition opens at the end of May and the deadline for entries is Monday 30 July 2007. Entrants must be between 11 and 16 years of age.  

All schools will be mailed competition entry forms in May 2007. The entry form will also be available as a PDF download on both The Reading Agency website and Booktrust's teenage dedicated website.  


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Premiere performance of Billy the Kid

Friday 18 May 6.30 pm sees the premiere of this play, created from the book by Michael Morpurgo, at the Unicorn Theatre, London.

A question and answer session with Michael Morpurgo and Michael Forman the illustrator of the Billy the Kid will follow the performance and they will also be happy to sign books.

Billy the Kid
The only thing Billy ever wanted to do was play for Chelsea. His dream comes true when he is signed by the club and rises from the reserves to become a champion striker for the first team.

But this is 1939. The Second World War begins and Billy's life, like everyone else's, changes forever. From footballing hero to front-line soldier, he is lucky to escape alive - but injured.

Unable to play football again, Billy sinks lower and lower until some friends help to give him one last chance. Will Billy the Kid ever see his beloved Chelsea again? And will they remember him?

A heart-warming play about football, war and real courage for everyone aged 8+. To book tickets or for further information, please contact the Box Office on 0207 645 0546 or visit the website at http://www.unicorntheatre.com/

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Honour List Announcement for SLA School Librarian of the Year Award 2007

School Librarian of the Year 2007 Honour List

The Tower of London looked its sparkling best in the spring sunshine yesterday as a crowd of librarians, teachers, students, authors and other special guests gathered to celebrate the announcement of the Honour List for the SLA School Librarian of the Year for 2007.

  • Photos from the event are now online in the Gallery

After the anonymous selection of a shortlist from all the nominated librarians, the SLYA panel visited a number of schools in the Autumn and Winter, and from all those visited selected the following exceptional school librarians to be on the Honour List.

  • Fay Dowding
    Queen Elizabeth High School, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
  • Amanda Gough
    Kellett School, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
  • Barbara Hickford
    Our Lady’s Convent, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Ingrid Hopson
    George Abbot School, Guildford, Surrey
  • Helen Pallett
    Djanogly City Academy, Nottingham
  • Helen Roberts
    Lea Valley High School and Sports College, Enfield, Middlesex

Michael MorpurgoThe six librarians were presented with their certificates by well-loved award-winning author Michael Morpurgo who treated the audience to a story of his experiences taking a class of 5 year olds to the Tower of London for a school visit.

He also said: "I believe librarians have the ability to change lives. In my book 'I Believe in Unicorns' the heroine, who is a librarian, says 'stories make you think and dream; books make you want to ask questions'. Surely the opportunity to engage positively with the imaginations of the next generation is one of the greatest gifts a librarian, or any of us for that matter, can have."

The Honour List librarians will also receive books for their school libraries from the following publishers:

  • Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
  • Hodder Books
  • Macmillan Children’s Books
  • Orchard Books
  • Oxford University Press
  • Random House Children’s Books
  • Scholastic
  • Walker Books

The School Library Association would like to thank all the above publishers for their support for the 2007 School Librarian of the Year Award.

In particular we would like to express our gratitude to Micro Librarian Systems, for their very generous sponsorship of the Award for both 2006 and 2007.

The final winner will be selected from the Honour List and will be announced on 16th May at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, an event which will be attended by Schools Minister Jim Knight. Tickets for this event are going fast, but if you’d like to attend contact the SLA office on 01793 791787.

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