Jake Hope is a Reading Development and Children’s Book Consultant, and is Chair of Judges for CKG 2018.
After the excitement of this year’s nominations and the announcement of the longlist in February, we’re finally at the stage where the shortlist has been decided. This is always a favourite part of the awards, it’s the stage when others are able to read alongside the judges, bringing their own thoughts, ideas and experiences to the characters, themes and stories in each of the books. An open book is a portal to different worlds and ways of thinking and it’s at this stage when they are being devoured and deliberated upon by so many readers that the books begin to take on a life of their own… This is the point when lively discussions and debates begin, when across the country and indeed the globe, people start engaging in creative activities thinking about their own reactions and responses to the writing and illustration they have been encountering. All of this energy and activity builds up to an enormous crescendo in the final stages where the awards themselves are decided and announced.
Regardless of interests or age, there is something to enchant and enthrall all readers on this year’s shortlist. From fiction set in the past, to stories of the present, from real life to fantasies, from factual books about the world around us to richly imagined representations of the emotions and experiences familiar to children and young people from their everyday, the range of themes, styles and forms makes for a particularly vibrant and varied selection.
There’s always a sense of ownership in having read and thought around the shortlists in the lead up to the announcement of the winners. This makes the process feel all the more special and personal and there’s real pride in contemplating winners from a year where you’ve read and ruminated upon the shortlist. What a history and pedigree the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals hold too, stretching back for 81 and 61 years respectively! They form a roll-call for some of the greatest and most innovative writing and illustration this country has known.
Like dinosaur footprints of yesteryear, they show a journey through different stages and states of our cultural history, their impressions provide the shape of society’s views on childhood, on education, on learning and what it is to think and to feel. They shine a light upon the books that, as critic and author Italo Calvino put it, never finish saying what they have to say, stories that, whether composed of words or pictures, help us to better understand who we are and the world that we inhabit. Join with us in reading this exceptional and varied collection of books, feed in your ideas and views and let’s make this one of the most impressive, inclusive and immersive experiences around reading!