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Pupil Library Assistant of the Year 2016

Dielleza Brava PLAA Winner 2016Congratulations to the winner of the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year 2016 - Dielleza Brava.

At a prestigious central London ceremony, the fifteen-year-old Lewisham student received her prizes and praise from the current Children's Laureate Chris Riddell in front of a packed audience made up of parents, teachers, authors and representatives of CILIP and the School Library Association, and publishers responsible for sponsoring  the scheme.

Dielleza Brava had been nominated by grateful staff at Sydenham School who have been able to rely increasingly on the GCSE student as a key member of the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) team.  During the ceremony, she and the other contenders had their 'citations' read by prominent young people's authors.  In Dielleza's case, it was author Lucy Coats who explained her five-year commitment to Sydenham School's library and the impact this had had in terms of her personal development and ambition.

"She is a real asset," said Sydenham School LRC manager Diana Adams. "She is a trusted volunteer and has become head pupil librarian thanks to her consistent, calm work here with us.  But in the end, I think it was the benefits that Dielleza had derived in terms of greater confidence and her determination to carry on working with children and young people that may have chimed most with the judges. We are incredibly proud of her."

In his illustrated talk leading up to the Award announcement, Chris Riddell spelled out his long love-affair with libraries and their part in giving him access to 'life changing books' such as Catcher in the Rye, Wuthering Heights and the Gormenghast trilogy - all crucial in the development of his creative imagination.   He said: "The wonderful thing about the best  libraries in schools is that they are havens of peace and encouragement where there are no tests and  if a book is not to someone's taste, then the worst that can happen is the librarian suggesting another title instead." 

As well as an impressive engraved glass trophy and certificates, Dielleza won £100 in book-tokens for herself and £100 in tokens for her school library.  There were also substantial goody-bags for her and her fellow finalists made up of signed copies of novels donated by publishers Hachette and Macmillan.

"Dielleza is very patient and sympathetic, especially with students who speak little English," points out Diana Adams. Perhaps this is unsurprising given that Dielleza came to Sydenham as a very shy year 7, and remarkably as (given her current enthusiasm for books) not a great reader.

"Working in the library has helped boost my confidence, making friends among the other girls that work here regularly and has also helped develop my reading and writing skills," says Dielleza.  "I think my favourite part of the job is suggesting new books to people, trying to match them up to stories they can cope with and will enjoy, rather than just the ones I like!"

Thanks to her experience at Sydenham, Dielleza has decided to pursue a career working with children.  "The empathy and patience that she exhibits working with students with special needs or English as an additional language, suggests that she will be an excellent teacher," adds Diana Adams.

Among her usual duties, Dielleza has also been an ambassador for the library; talking to parents on open days and also providing feedback to publishers about new books and her perception of the shifting reading habits of her contemporaries.  But perhaps her most unusual responsibility to date was a recent one:  being a judge of the costumes that staff wore for World Book Day.  "It was really so hard picking the faculty winners as they were all good in different ways, in the end it was Science faculty, dressed as characters from Peter Pan that won ; but I loved the effort made by the Performing Arts faculty, who entered on their knees, dressed as characters from Shaun the Sheep".

The Pupil Librarian of the Year Award 2016 is a national award organised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the School Library Association. The other 2016 finalists are from Durham, Northwich in Cheshire, Reading and Great Baddow in Essex.

For more some pictures and information on the next round for 2017, please see: http://libpupilaward.wix.com/home