Thursday, 5 April 2012

Regional Book Awards - Elen Caldecott

We all love libraries. We know that. The easy access to research titles, the new fiction, the computers and databases and music and films, it's all brilliant.

But there's another reason why contemporary authors love libraries and that's the regional books awards. These annual or bi-annual events select recently published titles and bring together schools, clubs and families to vote for their favourites.

There are some well established ones, like the Leeds and Sheffield awards, there are some that are specific to new authors, like the Heart of Hawick or the New Horizons Book award, there are others that are just starting out (Hi, Warwickshire Junior Book Award!). But what all of these awards have in common is the dedicated professionals behind them working hard to encourage reading. They might be county or school's service librarians, or even teachers with responsibility for the school library and they work hard to bring new books to new readers.

As an author, I am immensely grateful for that.

(l-r) Gill Lewis, Fiona Dunbar, Elen Caldecott
It's too easy for children to stick with tried-and-tested books - school copies of Roald Dahl, or presents from well-meaning relatives who buy books they remember from their youth (how many versions of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' does there need to be, I ask you?).

By having these awards, librarians bring the best in contemporary publishing to the forefront and give those works a chance to vie against the classics for children's attention.

I've been lucky enough to be shortlisted for a few of the regional awards - I rarely win, but I will always turn up at the ceremony and I'll always say thank you. Whether I win, or not, my books have been given a chance to meet readers. What more can a writer ask for?

Gill on stage
On Monday, I attended the Solihull Children's Book Award. It was won by Gill Lewis for her amazing book Sky Hawk. Fiona Dunbar and I were given bottles of fizzy booze to take away for being runners-up.
And while the booze was lovely, the best thing about this award process was getting this review from one of the participants:

"I am not someone that reads all the time but with this book i did. This book gave me a big step in my reading but the book was so good it made me want to read all the three books [nominated for the award]".

My book, my book, has made a reader out of a non-reader. Flipping heck. And the librarians who organised this award made that happen.

So, this is my very public thank you to librarians in all our regions - long may you be there.


Elen will be appearing at the Explore! Children's Festival in Cardiff on 11th April.

For more info about Elen and her books, go to:
www.elencaldecott.com
Elen's Facebook Page

6 comments:

Rachel Ward said...

I completely agree, Elen - what a fab post. The librarians who organise these awards are heroes! They put so much effort in and do so much to encourage reading that we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

Penny Dolan said...

Great post! These awards - and the librarian book selections - are created with a really awareness of the interests of the young readers.

As you describe, Elen, these events can make a real difference - and congratulations to all three of you!

Elen C said...

Rachel - we do!

Penny - thanks! I had a great time there.

Sue Barrow said...

Just want to add my own hurrah for librarians. I was at one of Newport's libraries on World Book day talking to groups of local school children. It was great fun but the best bit for me was getting an email from the librarian the next day saying how many kids had returned after school to join up and borrow books. She was chuffed and the thought that I'd played a small part in this made my day!

Sue Barrow said...

Just want to add my own hurrah for librarians. I was at one of Newport's libraries on World Book day talking to groups of local school children. It was great fun but the best bit for me was getting an email from the librarian the next day saying how many kids had returned after school to join up and borrow books. She was chuffed and the thought that I'd played a small part in this made my day!

Adonis Devereux said...

Hooray!