Friday and Saturday of last week were the most intense days of my year! Starting on Friday with a 4.30am alarm it was non-stop until 5.45pm on Saturday (apart from a small gap of about 7hours sleep).
Play by the Book has written a lovely blog post about all the fantastic authors, with some great pictures, so I just thought I'd write a little bit about the library-ish bits which were also fascinating, engaging and enthusing.
At the joint YLG/SLG/SLA conference in June last year I was a bit disappointed by the workshops that I went to, but I'm pleased to say this definitely wasn't the case this year. I started with a session about ideas for shadowing the CKG awards, beyond reviewing on the shadowing site, during which I picked up some great ideas for planning really fun activities for reading groups that have (possibly a mildly tenuous) link to one of the books, an example from last year was making the kind of sandwiches the Bear in "A Boy and a Bear in a Boat" might have enjoyed. My second was about graphic novels in the library. There were no amazing revelations but the Peters book reviews, with notes of any potentially contentious content, were new to me so I look forward to checking them out. Finally, I attended a session run by the lovely Emily Diamand (I only just realised it isn't 'Diamond'!) about running creative writing groups in libraries which left me really inspired to try something with pupils back at school.
The plenaries were all really interesting although I do sometimes feel that it is a case of "preaching to the converted" and that we really need to find a way to "get out of the echo chamber", but on the other hand it was these sessions that reminded me why I'm passionate about being a school librarian and getting pupils reading for pleasure, and we can use a lot of it as ammunition to defend our cause. On Friday, Professor Teresa Cremin talked about the study she carried out on behalf of the Carnegie Trust into the CKG awards shadowing process, and gave us the executive summary, and the people behind the The Phoenix Comic gave an impassioned talk about the importance of comics in engaging and developing readers. Saturday included Ian Dodds teaching us some visual literacy techniques (building on the fascinating history of the art of visual story telling that Professors Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles gave us on Friday) and the managing director of Barrington Stoke talking about reaching dyslexic and reluctant readers.
The more conferences I attend, and the more I veer towards the challenge of encouraging "reading for pleasure" in school, the more I enjoy the exhibition. Reps from a variety of children's publishers are there, a number of whom I've now met on numerous occasions and who thrust books into my hands, eagerly telling me why I will love them. A large suitcase is definitely required!
This year, as usual, I was on a book buying ban but was tempted too strongly by Marcus Sedgwick's new book "She is not Invisible" because of the fantastic detail of the number 354...
I spent the night with a friend who lives in Birmingham and then went to have a look at the new Library of Birmingham on Sunday. It is amazing, a beautiful building and thousands of books, but for me it was an incredible disappointment because of the missed opportunity to engage teenagers. Their books are right in the middle of the children's library, signposted simply as "fiction" with toddlers colouring at tables right next to them (I imagine it won't be long before a mother complains about her 5yr old picking up one of the "teen graphic novels"). Apparently there is a seating area for them near the music section, but there are no books there and nothing indicating that it is a teen space.
But, all in all a great weekend!