Maura Farrelly is the CKG Judge for YLG Northern Ireland
One of the joys (and there have been so many) of being a regional judge has been the reaction of pupils who have enthusiastically followed the judging process alongside me, and have even taken on the role of CKG judge within school as they shadow the awards.
Over the last two years, I have loved the animated, and sometimes fierce discussion on judging days. The adrenaline fuelled intensity of those meetings is unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else. It has been brilliant to see judging meetings reflected in book club as young readers gain the confidence to speak up in a group of their peers to defend or champion a book they have read and feel passionately about. With the introduction of the Shadowers’ Choice Award this year, book club might begin to echo judging meetings even more strongly!
Certainly, for myself, and also the shadowers in school, reading CKG titles has introduced new authors and led to the discovery of new books. I often feel a wee burst of pride when I overhear one of the shadowing group recommend a CKG title to another reader and support their recommendation with comments on character, plot and style.
We have had our first few shadowing meetings of the year and the excitement is already building.
It seems only fair that I give the last word to one of our shadowers. This is Emma, and she’d like to tell you what shadowing has meant to her:
“I love shadowing because I’m able to make friends with girls who enjoy the same things I do. It encourages me to read books that I might not have read otherwise. It also lets my voice be heard. Shadowing is very exciting and my parents know exactly when we start because I always have my head in a book. My mum also hears about the shortlist because I explain in full detail what the books are about, no matter where I am (which is the beach a lot of the time). Shadowing is such an amazing experience and I enjoy it so much.”