CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway

The power of stories

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Jennifer Horan is the Network Librarian at Kemnay Academy, Aberdeenshire.

Last week marked the twentieth anniversary of the Dunblane massacre, when 16 Primary 1 (Reception Class) children and their teacher were killed during a PE lesson by a gunman who had entered their school.  As a seven year old child myself at the time I have few memories of the event, but one memory that has stayed with me is a television interview with one of the bereaved mothers, who said she kept going by reading her deceased child a bedtime story every night for years after his death.  It struck me because it demonstrated the power of stories.

Through devastation, stories can be a light, an escape, a comfort.  Stories help us deal with grief, they give us characters who experience our emotions and show us a light at the end of the tunnel.  Fairy tales were written to teach us life lessons.  Reading gives us empathy, takes us to new lands, and lets us experience adventures we may never have in real life.  You are more likely to have a wider view of the world if you are a reader.

Awards like CKG highlight the importance of reading and sharing stories, and the publicity they generate can only be a positive thing for the book industry and its audience.  I hope the shortlists we’ve shared this week will bring some light into readers’ lives, let them escape to another world, or help them to cope in this one.

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