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SLA Blog » April 2019RSS 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.

Little Rebels Award for Radical Children’s Fiction 2019 shortlist

The Little Rebels Award recognises children’s fiction (for readers aged 0-12) which promotes social justice or social equality, challenges stereotypes or is informed by anti-discriminatory concerns. Check out the shortlist here.



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Short story vending machines

What do you notice whilst on your train/bus commute to work? (Cars excluded from this). Everyone is staring into their phones. But in Canary Wharf, vending machines have been installed which dispense one, three and five-minute stories free to passers-by at the touch of a button. Anthony Horowitz was commission to write a story that could be read between two stations on the tube.

We’d support this reading.


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Funding of up to £1,000 for women in the Education sector

Women & Leadership International is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across the UK’s Education sector.

The campaign is providing women with grants of up to £1,000 to enable participation in a leadership development program (nearly a third off the price).

The scholarship funding is provided with the specific intent of providing a powerful and effective development opportunity for women; however the funding is strictly limited and has to be allocated prior to the end of May.

Expressions of Interest
Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form prior to 10th May:

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BookTrust Represents report

BookTrust has reported on research into representation of people of colour among children’s book authors and illustrators and found that although the British children’s book sector is doing well and more children’s books are sold in the UK than ever before, the people who create these books do not reflect the makeup of the UK.

University College London and BookTrust demonstrate that children’s books are important for all children from all backgrounds, so books should reflect their lives, whether they are reading at home or at school, and they should be meeting authors/illustrators of colour when schools organise book talks.

Summary and full report here 

Booktrust Represents Logo 16x9

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Support your school fundraising

A new initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to vital school resources has been launched by Peters Books and Furniture.

Support your school is a fundraising platform for schools.

The funds raised by the school can be used to create a whole new library, supply a selection of titles to support a topic or purchase the latest collection of fiction.


This is an alternative to the Amazon wishlist and similar schemes to point parents to titles you’d like your school to possess, rather than give donors free reign.

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Sponsored Weekend Course Places


The SLA are delighted to offer 2 funded places at this year's SLA and YLG Weekend Course for SLA members. In no more than 250 words please explain why you would like to attend, and how the attending would benefit your work within your school. We are particularly looking for primary or secondary school library staff who may not have attended a Weekend Course before, or those from BAME or other diverse backgrounds. Unfortunately we cannot cover travel expenses as well, the bursary would only cover the fully residential ticket cost.

 Send your queries or entries to info[at]sla.org.uk with the title 'Funded Weekend Course Place' by 4pm 30th April. Please include your membership number with your application (it's the number you use to log on to the website). You can find more information about the Weekend Course here

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Welcome to the SLA Website: Easter closure of SLA office

Over the Easter weekend, the SLA office in Swindon will be closed on Thursday 18th April and reopen on Tuesday 23rd April. We wish everyone a restful and warm Easter with lots of reading (and a bit of chocolate!)

More Details...

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R4P tube map from @MisterBodd

Twitter has some fabulous users who willingly post resources they have created for use in schools freely available to download. The latest is from teacher @MisterBodd designed to help move children on from their usual reading fare by means of a tube map. Many thanks for the creative genius and for sharing. What child wouldn't want to follow?

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Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 now open

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 is now open for entries with a deadline of 31 July 2019. This is open to young people aged 11-17 from the U.K. and beyond.

If you would like to request a free class set of anthologies, posters or flyers please email fyp@poetrysociety.org.uk.

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Media Literacy

The path to media literacy. The Government is consulting on the teaching of media literacy to our young people.

There is an important role here for school librarians. There is a chance to respond to the consultation and feedback your thoughts on the role for school librarians.



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Withdrawn book disposal

We often get asked about how to dispose of out of date and tatty books withdrawn from school libraries. There is a list of companies who will deal with these in our support documents.

However, if you’d like a green solution for a few books, your pupils will love making these seed balls which will also benefit the environment when placed carefully.

Thanks to GardenerScott.

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CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway Awards activities

How is the CKG reading progressing?

There is a wealth of resources, including competitions on the shadowing website, so your pupils will be kept busy over the holidays.


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Nine unusual facts about libraries

In the USA it is National Library Week, which runs from April 7-13, and CNN have cited nine facts you may not know about libraries and librarians. 

Although we like the thought of Brooklyn Public Library Association proposing building "a seaside rest home for those who had broken down in library service,"the reasons why are not so great!

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Puffin World of Stories for Sept

The National Literacy Trust are giving 80 new schools in Essex, South London, Middlesbrough and Tyne and Wear the chance to take part in the programme for primary schools Puffin World of Stories, starting in September 2019.  Register your interest to receive books from Puffin and build a reading network of other teachers and for pupils in your school by 17 May.


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The Gruffalo writing competition

To celebrate The Gruffalo's 20th anniversary, the NLT are asking children aged 5 to 11 to write the story of what happened next to their favourite character from The Gruffalo. There are free resources available to help teachers run the competition with their pupils, and brilliant prizes up for grabs including signed books, a visit from The Gruffalo himself and £250 worth of books for the winner’s school.

This competition is open to and completely free for all UK schools. Entries are invited from pupils aged 5 to 11.

To enter the competition, you need to be a member of the National Literacy Trust, (discounts for SLA members) whether that is through a paid membership or a free basic membership. The competition opens on 1 April and closes on 30 June.



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Excelsior Award voting deadline

Reminder that the deadline to return all rating forms is 18th April.

The Excelsior Awards Ceremony 2019 take place on Wednesday 19th June, at Trent College in Nottingham (NG10 4AD). The ceremony will start at 10:30am and last approximately one hour. Students will then be allowed to browse the stalls, spend money and eat lunch.

Contact http://www.excelsioraward.co.uk/contact.html

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Becoming by Michelle Obama: supporting literacy and PSHE education

NLT have teamed up with Penguin Talks to launch a free teaching resource inspired by Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir, Becoming, to boost secondary students’ literacy skills, leadership abilities and confidence.

Building on the central themes of empowerment through education and the important role of self-belief in achieving your potential in Becoming, the resource features a range of activities designed to give students in Key Stages 3-5 new opportunities to use and develop their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Becoming 2.width 285

There is also a reminder about the National Literacy Trust's Words for Work: Women in Leadership programme in partnership with Lancôme, which supports girls and young women to develop the literacy skills, leadership abilities and confidence they need to achieve their potential.

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UKLA Book Awards 2019 Shortlist

UKLA Book Awards 2019 Shortlist announced

Some titles that sound familiar, some first timers on a book prize list, but all well worth exploring.



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Competition for Roy of the Rovers books

The National Literacy Trust has teamed up with the publisher Rebellion to celebrate the return of the classic Roy of the Rovers comic.  They are inviting pupils aged 8 to 12 to get creative and write a club motto for Roy Race’s iconic football team, Melchester Rovers. As well as £250 worth of books and comics for their school, the winning pupil will have their motto written into an upcoming Roy of the Rovers book by best-selling children’s author, Tom Palmer, who will also visit the winner’s school! The winner and 10 runners up will also get a full set of signed Roy of the Rovers books. 

There is a range of free teaching resources to support the competition with top tips from Tom Palmer to inspire pupils' creativity. The competition closes on 10th May so there’s lots of time to download activities and encourage your pupils to enter. Find out more here 

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BME research survey

Sheffield Hallam University are researching into the inclusion and representation of people from Black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds in children's literature. They would particularly be interested in hearing from those who are involved in promoting or influencing diversity in children's literature, or who have experience of the barriers and enablers to achieving greater diversity across the sector.  

This research will build on recent evidence and the findings will be used to make practical recommendations for the Arts Council and other organisations. The aims are to help bring about positive changes and improve the representation of BME people across the children's literature sector. 

To give your viewpoint, please complete the online survey here

The survey should take around 10-15 minutes to complete.

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International competition of picture books for VIP children

Enjoying books is, for most young children, an essential part of childhood. But what if you can't see? Tactile image books are the solution for blind or partially sighted children, as every picture is designed to be explored by touch. Just as conventional picture books have their book prizes, tactile illustration has the Typhlo and Tactus International Tactile Book Competition to encourage tactile book creation across the globe. This year is its 20th anniversary. The competition is open to anyone. The judges will be looking for books which are interesting, robust and entertaining for children up to age 12 who have little or no sight.

Each participating country can submit up to five books to the international contest. The UK shortlisting round will take place in September 2019 and is being organised by the ClearVision Project, a children's braille library. The UK judges will include children and adults who have a visual impairment, tactile image experts and illustrator Rod Campbell. A series of workshops will be held across the United Kingdom in conjunction with CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group.  Workshops will offer advice on the creation and use of tactile books.  Details of these and a series of videos offering similar guidance and advice, created with support from the University of Central Lancashire, will be added to the Clearvision Project website.

The deadline for UK entries is 16th August 2019. For more information, guidance and an entry form, see ClearVision's website 

So, for information for everyone involved in children's books, and possibly art departments in schools, or crafty school staff or parents, please do check out this attached information.

Tactus Press release 2019

PDF file, 257 kB (Requires Adobe Reader)

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Bookbuzz 2019 reminder

Don’t forget that registration is now open for BookTrust’s 2019 Bookbuzz programme.

Aimed at helping schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds, students have the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 17 titles. The full list of books will be unveiled in May so be sure to sign up for your school.   

Bookbuzz Logo

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Easter activities

With the Easter break approaching, feed your families Easter book activities.

If you are near enough to Oxford, look up the events at the Story Museum.

For young children there are activities on the eggbertsadventures.com website, with free lesson plans and activities for teachers, parents and libraries.

Happy Easter egg hunting/reading!

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Hertfordshire SLA Branch CDP

The school librarian is a vital partner in the EPQ programme.  Herts Branch have organised support for everyone involved in EPQ - so a fantastic opportunity to extend research skills and support our students in the transition to university. Plus the benefits of networking.

All welcome.

More details on the attached.

Herts CPD

PDF file, 276 kB (Requires Adobe Reader)


Wednesday 22nd May

Beaumont School, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL4 0XB


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Books to inspire reading

Although, as Jonathan Douglas from NLT says, it’s obvious that we should be the role models for children whilst allowing them choice in their reading, sometimes we need a helping hand providing those books. Hay Festival has partnered with Tes to celebrate inspiring books for young people. To support the #BooksToInspire initiative, you can nominate your favourite titles . Everyone who nominates a book will be entered into a prize draw to win the selected titles for school. Hay Festival tickets available here





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CE Blog 2019_2: Why school libs are important, and what the SLA's plans are

Firstly, an apology - I have missed two blog posts. The beginning of the year is full of activity with a new strategy, policies to revise, budgeting to do and the weekend course to finalise. I hope you'll forgive me. This month’s CE blog is a bit of a mish mash of things that I think would be useful to share, normal service will resume next month. Recently a journalist asked me why school libraries were important, and here’s my response.

School libraries are vital in schools because they hold the key to literacy for many children, and the key to information literacy for many more! Having a wide range of resources (fiction, information, audio, e-book, newspapers and digital resources) is the only way that children build the range of skills needed to understand and utilise the resources they will encounter in later life. As well as encouraging reading for pleasure (which correlates to reading attainment) school library staff use these resources to develop critical thinking skills and teach vital concepts for the 21st century – ideas like bias, plagiarism, the difference between opinion and fact. It’s through the resources that children grow their world perspective and see beyond their immediate community – also allowing empathy, creativity and curiosity to flourish. It’s these skills and abilities that allow children to engage actively in a modern, democratic community.

School libraries are important spaces in all schools – giving children a chance to browse (a skill they are less likely to learn at home, given the dominance of buying over the internet) and engage in libraries at a young age allows them to learn skills they’ll use as they get older: taught well, the basics of using your university library are taught at primary level. When staffed, school libraries provide a safe space for pupils, not only for those who struggle in the more chaotic environment of the playground (though a busy school library on a wet break time can be chaotic too!), but also for those introverts who need time and space to recover from demanding lessons, those who play with their creativity by writing, or drawing, or telling stories, or taking part in a club, those who play chess or those who just want some peer support with their homework.

School libraries are spaces, filled with potential. School library staff are the ones who release the potential and turn it into engagement, learning and enjoyment. School library staff use every tool at their disposal to draw children in, to show them a world beyond their immediate surroundings, and a future different to one that they see. They use all the resources – including but not limited to books – to allow children to maximise what they get from every lesson and to make links across the curriculum. The clubs, competitions and events that library staff run allow children to explore who they are, find something they are good at and maybe even find a role model for their creativity – something which is ever more important in these days of a narrowed curriculum and the development of AI.

School library staff promote independent learning – ‘look it up’, ‘what do you think’, ‘why do you think that’. They challenge lazy thinking and an over reliance on a single source of information – and they do this informally through conversation as well as formally through information literacy, research and enquiry based learning lessons. This generation is not going to be able to find a one reliable source – they are going to have to mentally engage with everything they come across, and be constantly thinking about purpose and audience and author.

School libraries can actively contribute to the aims of a school. If a school development plan mentions literacy, reading attainment, EAL, pupil premium pupils, ‘More Able’ pupils, developing creativity, combatting fake news, the importance of transition (both KS2>3 and KS3>4), the importance of creating a learning culture, raising outcomes or contributing to a positive mental state the school library should be mentioned and have its own development plan linked to the school’s priorities for that year.

In a time where education is constantly talking about retention and workload, some schools seem to ignore the place that a member of school library staff has in supporting teachers. By collaborating over schemes of work, co-teaching lessons, sharing the weight of knowing which resources will engage a pupil, and entice them want to read workload and stress can be reduced. There are no ‘red lines’ of domain within schools – teachers should be seen in, using and contributing to the library, and library staff could be doing the same in classrooms.

Teachers can maximise their school library by involving them in the conversations about research and teaching, allowing them to access CPD (there’s lots of high quality but cheap or free resources out there), allowing them to network, (which costs time only)to brainstorm with colleagues - after all, unlike teachers, they are (sometimes) the only person doing that job in that school. Talk to the organisations available about how to make the library relevant in your school, and have high expectations. When you appoint a librarian/LRC Manager choose someone whomyou respect, and allow them to participate: involve them when creating solutions and talk to them about issues. The school library is the centre of the school – the one place where every subject, year group, cohort and both academic and informal needs are all provided for – give them a chance to support and help.

I’m sure there’s lots of things I should have included, so let me know what they are and I’ll make sure they are there next time. Meanwhile, at the SLA we have been working on the three year strategy, trying to make sure that school libraries have all the support that they need, and how best to combat the issues the sector is facing. I recently spoke at the Berkshire Branch unconference, and asked for feedback – good, bad and ugly! – about some of the things we’ll be working on, and some of the things we should be. This will give you some understanding of where we are going, and what we’re working on.


Here’s some of the comments I got back:

  • As someone with dyslexia the journal and website are hard to read

The first one was something very close to my heart – that for some members the journal and website are hard to read. Being the only one out of four siblings without dyslexia made me keenly aware of how important equal access is. This is something we will look into.

  • Are you talking to heads, offering guidelines on salaries etc?

This is something that reaches the heart of our 3 year plan – closing the gap between school libraries and education. We are, and we have developed a ‘Skills and Expertise in the school library’ booklet that we will release with our new website. We have also developed a short online course for teachers who line manage school library staff to help build a common understanding of what the school library can do, what the guidelines are, and where support can be found.

  • Job adverts – there are not many on your site, could you advertise it better?

We are hoping that the new website, and some additional advertising about the service will help. We are changing the pricing so it costs £100+ VAT for members and £150+VAT for non-members. This is still significantly cheaper than other job advertising websites, and goes directly to the desired audience, so there is a strong argument to use our site!

  • I really like the audio/podcasting idea

Good! This is something for the longer term – we want to make sure our content is as accessible as possible, and so we will explore making some audio content as well. This may be podcast versions of the blogs, or first chapters of some of our publications.

  • Crowd funding for schools that aren’t members

This is something we are investigating, but need to be slightly careful of. The SLA needs to, and will always maintain the position that school libraries should be funded by the school – it is the schools responsibility to fund and resource them. However, we also can’t betray the current generation who are moving through school in an era of increased financial insecurity. The new website will have a donation page, and we are talking to partners to try and look at other ways that membership could be gifted to a school, however this may also be done in house. Ask your PTA if they would buy some books to allow you to buy membership; or talk to local businesses – it’s sometimes easier with a local connection.

  • Benefits of membership need better advertising

This is true, and something that was made apparent in the membership survey we conducted last year, and is one of the things we will be working on. The new website will allow a member, and non-member newsletter to go out, and this will be the best way of keeping up to date with all of the SLA news.

  • The online training for teachers – is it free? Would it also apply to inspectors?

The training isn’t free but will be priced very competitively – we didn’t want to use membership money to create it, but know teachers will find it difficult to pay for the course if it’s expensive. It won’t be for Inspectors – we have separate plans (along with the Great School Libraries campaign) to address Inspectors directly once the new framework is confirmed. Of course, there’s nothing to stop inspectors doing the course.

  • Ask big 6 accountancy firms for support

This is something I would love to do, and now we have a three year strategy in place it will allow us to write a compelling bid.

  • Work with publishers to offer free books

This is something we do at the moment, all competitions are in the Info[at] newsletter, and it is something that I will continue to work on (along with the member benefits).

  • Can I have an unconference Day at Herts SLA?

Absolutely! Just talk to the committee.

  • Each branch should have their own section of the website

They do, and we will be able to upload documents from branches to the website.

  • Each branch has their own email address

This is something we are working on at the moment.

  • Inviting library degrees to run a workshop at the SLA weekend course

This is a fab idea, and something we will look into. 

  • Lesson plans on digital literacy skills

This is an interesting idea – if you know of anyone who does this let us know!

  • A student library helper section of the website

Maybe in a future development of the website!

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Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2019

Flemish author Bart Moeyaert has been announced as the laureate of Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2019.

His large and diverse body of work includes more than 50 titles, ranging from picture books and YA novels to poetry. His books have been translated in more than 20 countries. He also writes television screenplays and stage plays, has translated a number of novels, and teaches creative writing.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world's largest award for children's and young adult literature. The award is given annually to a single laureate or to several. The award is designed to promote interest in children's and young adult literature and candidates are nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world.

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Writing competitions

There is an abundance of writing competitions for your pupils to enter.

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Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival 2019

The Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival programme is live, including free school events, lesson plans, videos and so much more.

Hay Festival Hay on Wye Logo

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Job Vacancies, Project manager: Freelance project manager, Empathy Lab


Freelance Project Manager

EmpathyLab has received a  grant from NESTA to deliver an exciting empathy transition project with a cohort of Welsh schools. We are looking for  a freelance project manager to work with the team two days a week to deliver this programme over the next 15 months. The role is home based although travel will be required.

Access this PDF link for the job advert and role description:


More Details...

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CKG Shadowing 2019 resources

Shadowing the Carnegie or Greenaway awards doesn’t just boost confidence in reading and talking, but there are so many other benefits as well as competitions which accompany the varied resources on the shadowing site.

Is your school group registered?

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Ireland's turn to survey school libraries

Ireland’s first Laureate nanÓg Siobhán Parkinson addresses how important it is for all children to have access to books as Children’s Books Ireland launch a survey into the state of school libraries in Ireland.


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World Book Night 2019

World Book Night is fast approaching on 23rd April 2019. This year Penguin Random House has made available an audio book to download for the first applicants. So if your pupils have not read Turtles all the way down by John Green, alert them now.



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Pupil Library Assistant Award coverage

Rhiannon Salvin, a student at Firth Park Academy, part of the Academies Enterprise Trust, was presented with the prestigious Pupil Library Assistant Award on 22nd March at a ceremony at Penguin Random House on the Strand and has been recognised by her local media. Well done Rhiannon.

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Reading in EY: Print v Digital

Reading similar stories to 2- to 3-year-olds in three different formats: a print book, a basic electronic book and an enhanced electronic book with animation and/or sound, researchers discovered that far more interaction and collaborative reading went on with a traditional print book. So great for enhancing vocabulary in young children.

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Author talk in Coventry 2nd April

It is not too late to purchase tickets to hear Melinda Salisbury, author of the Sin Eater's Daughter series, and the Sorrow Duology, and PM Freestone, author of Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom in conversation with blogger Michelle Toy, for an evening of poison, perfume and power as they discuss their latest novels. 

Tuesday 2nd April 18:30 at Waterstones, Coventry 



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