We are very excited about a new project we have just launched. Children’s Picture Book Award to celebrate picture books that children can relate to, giving them a window on the world and a mirror of themselves.
The Festival aims to celebrate the joy of books and reading and we want children in Derby to be inspired by books, to discover different worlds and better understand their own. The Children’s Picture Book Award aims to do just that. By inspiring them at an early age, we hope they go on to become lifelong readers.
In the autumn we invited children’s publishers to submit up to three books, published in 2018, which meet these criteria. Over 20 books were submitted by the closing date of 31 December 2018 and nine books have now been selected for the longlist:
- A Kid in My Class by Rachel Rooney, illustrated by Chris Riddell
- Nimesh the Adventurer by Ranjit Singh, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
- The Girls by Lauren Ace, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie
- The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña
- The New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre
- There’s Room for Everyone by Anahita Teymorian
- Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival
- Welcome to Our World Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Harriet Lynas
- Wisp by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Graham Baker-Smith
The Award, which we will run as a pilot in 2019, will involve Derby school teachers in the selection of books for the shortlist in early February. We will then work with six volunteer schools and provide them with copies of each of the shortlisted books for their school children to read during the spring term. The children will then vote for their favourite, which will be announced at the 2019 Derby Book Festival.
We are very grateful to local businesswoman, Deborah Fern, for her sponsorship of this Award. Deborah has been a great supporter of the Festival since 2015 and we are delighted that she is continuing her close relationship with us.
The idea for the Award came from Di Smith, a Literacy Consultant in the city who works with us each year to organise our annual Meet the Author events for schools. She has been particularly concerned about the discussions in both schools and in the publishing world over the past year about the lack of representation of ethnically diverse characters in children’s books. A recent report from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education has revealed that only 1% of children’s books have black and minority-ethnic (BAME) main characters. Derby is a diverse city with a significantly higher number of BAME residents than the national average (19.7% compared to 14.6%) so we hope the Award helps to encourage more authors to produce books to redress this imbalance and to encourage more children to relate to the books they read.
This year’s Meet the Author events for primary schools will again be held at Derby Theatre with poet Joseph Coelho and Jeanne Willis.