Friday, 18 February 2011
Votes, splats and books
Anyway, I am going to be shameless as any politician today and ask for your votes. The Coventry Inspiration Awards have been running for quite a few weeks now, with school pupils encouraged to read the books on a series of lengthy shortlists and vote for the ones they like best. Each week two books are eliminated, with a horrible splat obliterating the covers on the website.
In the Simply the Book category for 14+ readers, When I Was Joe is now into the final two! So vote,vote, vote for Joe, here . You don't have to be at school (just put N/A). You don't have to live in Coventry, or indeed the UK (just put your postcode, whatever it is). You can vote again and again (but you have to leave a bit of a space between votes.) The poll closes next Wednesday. It would be fantastic to win (err, although Helena Bonham Carter was right, it's not the winning that matters...ahem).
Nicola Morgan and I have formed an unofficial coalitian when it comes to begging for votes (Oooh, we are David and Nick! Or maybe NOT) Her wonderful exceptionally clever book Wasted is in the Read It or Else category. You can vote for Wasted here.
In the next age group down, my son is backing Frank Cottrell Boyce's Cosmic , a book which entertained and informed and did everything that good children's books should do superlatively well.
Getting to the last two of an award like this is fantastic - and winning would be even better, it is true. But there's also something strange about pitting books against eachother when reading is such a subjective process. I don't feel triumphant when I see that splat against other great books - I feel a bit bad. All of them are excellent reads, and these shortlists are perfect places to start if you're looking for something new to read. But beyond the splat factor is the knowledge that, thanks to the organisers of these and many other book award schemes, loads of kids are reading lots of books that they might never have otherwise learned about. The X Factor style website is just a part of it. Every book on that shortlist has been promoted, in Coventry and beyond, for the sheer love and importance of reading. There's more at stake here than a writer's ego.
Organising awards like this is just one of the valuable things that librarians do. The importance of libraries to children's reading was underlined today with the news that seven out of the ten most-borrowed authors in British libraries write for children. Shutting libraries, sacking librarians, building Learning Resource Centres for schools with no space for books - these are all an assault on children's right to read. Our government listened fast enough when the public spoke out about the proposed sell-off of forests. Libraries are another kind of shared space. They should be protected, developed and expanded not attacked. Vote for me if you want to, but raise your voice for our libraries as well.
Update: Thanks to all who voted - When I Was Joe came second...only mildly gutted, as being runner up is nothing to complain about. And hurray for Nicola Morgan's Wasted which won its category!