Awards 2016

The North Somerset Teachers' Book Awards

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On Saturday, we announced the short lists for the six categories of our awards. The response this year has been amazing and we have had lots of queries so we thought a post was the best way  to answer them all!

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We held the first North Somerset Teachers' Book Awards in 2015. Our teachers' reading group (JAB) had been running for about six years and was really flourishing and we had decided to form a Federation of Children' Book Groups group. 'Reading for Pleasure' was at the heart of what we were doing before we were told we had to do it!

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So when it was suggested we start our own award, everyone was keen to get involved! All the team work full time in education- most as teachers- and we all really want to encourage our colleagues to have an awareness of what is on offer for their children and introduce them to a wide range of 'reading matter'.

We decided on five categories which we thought would be most useful- Picture Book, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud, Information and Poetry. We then set about visiting as many bookshops and Literary Festivals as possible to seek out books which we felt offered something special for teachers. We looked for lesser known publishers, authors and illustrators as well as those everyone has heard of to try to bring as wide a range as possible to everyone's attention. We then read, shared, discussed, debated, argued and ate plenty of cake and lots of biscuits whilst whittling each category long list down to the short list! 

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Our first awards were lovely! Hosted by Bournville Primary School, we asked children of friends and family to announce the awards and were delighted that some authors and illustrators did actually come - and really enjoyed themselves!

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So we thought we'd do it again! In 2016, we added an extra category- Moving On- to help with finding books for those children who are competent readers, but perhaps not ready for the subject matter of books aimed at an older audience. Once again, we spent lots of time exploring bookshops, spending a small fortune and choosing our long list.

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Each book on our long list is carefully reviewed by one of the team and we have many meetings to select the shortlisted titles. Cake is now a very important part of all our book shopping trips, meetings and awards- particularly Mars Bar Crispie Cake!

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Last year's awards were our biggest yet with almost all the short listed authors and illustrators attending or sending video messages for the occasion and past winners also coming back to join us. We are hoping that this year will be the same as we have already had a very positive response.

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Several people have asked about tickets for the event and how much they cost. Our awards are completely free to those who attend. We have no funding, but pay for the awards ourselves as we feel really strongly about what we do. Recently, publishers and authors have been submitting copies of books for consideration, but we still buy most of the books we look at ourselves as well. We like our short listers to bring family with them to celebrate in their achievements. We do like to know how many people are coming to make sure there is enough cake, however!

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Each winner is given an award as shown in the pictures above and will be invited back to awards ceremonies in the future. They do not, however, win the pooch pictured in the shortlist photo- these are much loved members of JAB and no amount of bribery or begging will persuade Torie to part with them!

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Everything we do for the awards- reading, reviewing, posting, tweeting, meetings, etc- is done around teaching full time and juggling family life so if we are a little late in answering an email or something, please bear with us!

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We were also delighted to be included on the list of Top 500 Children's Book Influencers this summer. We also love it when authors, illustrators and publishers acknowledge our reviews as much time and effort is spent on them!

Please contact us if there is anything else you would like to know or if you would like to submit something for next year's awards- our 5th. We're already looking...

Looking forward to next year!

As I was leaving school today, a colleague commented on the fact that it has been two weeks since the North Somerset Teachers' Book Awards. 

'It was such a lovely day- I can't wait for next year!'

Next year?! I'm still recovering from this year! However, we have had so many kind words and compliments about our ceremony that we have already been discussing our third awards!

So, with that in mind, here are a few comments from this year's amazing short-listed authors:

As a junior school headteacher, (my husband) was so impressed by everyone's enthusiasm for stories… He said he would have been thrilled to have such enthusiastic teachers on his staff! So thank you so much for all you do to seek out good stories and find readers for them! It is such a valuable and important thing to do and you should all be so proud of what you have achieved!

...and thank you for such a lovely afternoon and also all the hard work you all put in to promoting reading to children, which is such a precious gift.

I'm still floating on cloud nine here! It was wonderful to spend the afternoon with so many people who so passionate about children's books. And the cakes were to die for.

It's hugely admirable work you do, promoting reading to children. I'm absolutely delighted to have been made part of it.

Just a quick note to thank you and your team for all that sterling work on the awards. To make it all seem so effortless actually takes, I know, a tremendous amount of planning and paddling underwater. And the venue looked so lovely and welcoming – and what can one say about the cakes??! 

We have already started making a note of books which we are enjoying at the moment and we think might be contenders for our longlist next year. So here is a reminder...

Our categories are: Poetry, Picture Book, Information, Read Aloud, Quality Fiction and Moving On.

We are open to suggestions from anyone and everyone, but are completely governed by what we think offers the quality and enjoyment children and teachers deserve in the classroom.

Voting for the shortlisted books is open to teachers, teacher assistants, librarians- those who work to promote books and reading in schools!

So- get reading everyone! Let's work together to discover all those treasures waiting for next year's awards!