It’s a relief not to have to read in secret any more

Alison BrumwellAlison Brumwell is a librarian for Booksplus, Leeds and Director of the Morley Literature Festival. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

Our Kirklees Carnegie and Greenaway shadowing groups are gearing up for action and there is already a buzz about what was shortlisted and what wasn’t. From my own vantage point, it’s a relief not to have to read in secret any more. I managed to furtively re-read both ‘The Bunker Diary’ and ‘Rooftoppers’ under my mosquito net in Mbale, but haven’t dared to risk CKG reading on the Leeds to Huddersfield train!

It was heartening to find that the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals are widely supported in the U.S. and are seen as being just as relevant as the Newbery and Caldecott Medals.

My visit to the New York Public Library was one of the highlights of my recent trip; I had a wonderful discussion about the medals, my CKG reading experience and children’s fiction in general with Louise Lareau, the librarian who manages the Children’s Centre at 42nd Street.

Their current exhibition of illustrated children’s books is stunning; plenty to inspire me and reflect upon. In fact, Patience and Fortitude, the twin recumbent lions outside the library’s main entrance, are for me emblematic of the whole Carnegie and Greenaway Medal judging process: plenty of each is required to read in depth all the nominated titles. As my third year as a judge (and possibly best yet) winds down, the experience continues to be one of the most rewarding I have ever had.

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I’m not sure that I have ever read so many books in my life

Hannah ThomsonHannah Thomson is a Learning Resource Centre Manager at Foxford School and Community Arts College. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

What a relief to now be able to talk about the long listed books, I thought that I might actually pop with excitement! This is my second year as a judge and what an experience it has been! I’m not sure that I have ever read so many books in my life… I’m always with my head in a book, but the reading list was staggeringly long and, hand on heart, I read every single one before we descended into our judging huddle to make our final cuts.

What I have treasured most from my experience so far is the opportunity to work with some local primary schools, forging links between them and the secondary school that I work for. Watching the children work with some of the Greenaway books to create wall displays, poetry and pictures, seeing their excitement and the way that stories and pictures make such an impact on them – they really do feed their imaginations!

It’s a privilege to work with such a wide range of young people, and incredibly rewarding to hear about (and see) the positive reading experiences that are taking place as a result of the Carnegie and Greenaway awards. Really fun, creative reading experiences!

Words and pictures have always coloured my world and I share this with students every day, but I also try to encourage them to be interesting and exciting individuals. When I think of all the fantastic characters and stories that they’ll meet and absorb through the shadowing process – both from reading the books and meeting each other, I can’t help but be enthusiastic.

I love my job and feel incredibly fortunate to be involved.

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