Prisoners have better mandatory provision of libraries under law than school children, the author Malorie Blackman has suggested, as she argues services for young readers are “disappearing”.
Blackman, the children’s laureate, said she was “disheartened” by the way library services in Britain are being “dismantled”.
Arguing every child should have access to a library space and dedicated librarian, she added both are being lost in a country where they are mandatory in prisons but not schools.
Malorie Blackman, recent castaway on Desert Island Discs, has doe a short Q&A interview for the Independent:
I find It’s so important to Revel in the arts About four years ago now, I had a serious case of writer’s block. I thought my career was over. So I decided to do other creative things in the hope of getting my own creative juices flowing again. I started piano lessons, I went to art galleries, museums, the theatre. It worked. It got me back writing. I was very relieved.
You must never let your brain atrophy Every year my husband and I take a course in something. He’s done quantum physics, maths, Latin; I’ve done Chinese, drumming, music production. Why? Because it’s important to exercise your brain. It’s a lot of fun, too.
GRINNY republished by Hot Key Books as Nicholas Fisk turns 90
Nicholas Fisk, author of over 55 Sci-fi books for children turns 90 today, the same year that Hot Key Books republishes GRINNY 40 years after it was first published.
First published in 1973, GRINNY is a forgotten favourite, brought back to life by Hot Key Books and introduced by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman. A classic sci-fi story filled with suspense, danger and adventure, this is a special bind up-edition including both the original story, and the powerful sequel that continues Tim and Beth’s encounter with Grinny in YOU REMEMBER ME! Grinny is a character whose sinister malevolence will continue to terrify readers, both old and new.
Malorie Blackman says in her foreword: ‘Science fiction stories like these from Nicholas Fisk present us with a thrilling, compelling view of the possible. And like all good stories, whatever the genre, they provide life lessons such as believing in yourself, even when everyone else around you is telling you otherwise. Enjoy!’
GRINNY is the first of a series of ‘Forgotten Favourites’ (favourite books out of copyright) published by Hot Key Books, followed by FIREWEED by Jill Paton Walsh, an exploration of two teens’ experience of the Blitz that was first published in 1970 and winner of the Book World Festival Award and a beautiful hard-back illustrated edition of MARY-MARY by Joan G Robinson first published in 1957 will be re-published in November.
Hot Key Books is looking for further suggestions of children’s and YA ‘forgotten favourites’ that are currently out of copyright to add to their list. Tweet @HotKeyBooks #forgottefave, or email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Forgotten Fave’.
Nicholas Fisk was born in London in 1923. Before becoming a full-time author, Nicholas served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, then found work initially as an actor, cartoonist, and jazz musician before becoming an advertising copywriter, illustrator, photographer and writer. He has written more than fifty books, most of which are Science Fiction for older children. Nicholas’ book MONSTER MAKER was made into a TV film for The Jim Henson Hour in 1989. Nicholas’ starting point for a story is an IF… IF we had a domestic robot, IF we could talk to animals, IF we could move back and forth in time. On such premises he places people – recognisable people living ordinary lives – until the IF explodes. Nicholas retired as an author in 1998 and lives in Hertfordshire.
Excellent account of a Laureate event in Manchester from the Bookwitch:
This was another school event organised by the Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester Children’s Book Festival, and Malorie was talking to Jackie Roy, who is a favourite chair of mine, someone who asks all the right questions. The event was at Z-arts in Hulme, which is a suitable venue for children of immigrant background in particular to find out how far you can get in life, and that it’s got nothing to do with what colour you are.
The children’s laureate Malorie Blackman wants to make electronic books more available to children. In an event at The Telegraph Bath Festival of Children’s Literature she said we must do everything we can to encourage children to read, whatever the medium.
"If you want to read on a smart device, all power to you," she said. "It’s about having great stories available, and making sure that children find these books irresistible. I personally love printed books. But as long as children are reading on some device, I’m an advocate of that."
She said there is too much snobbery attached to children’s reading. "When I was at school, I used to love comics, and I remember my teacher marching up to me and ripping the comic out of my hand," she said. "We’ve got to encourage children to read for pleasure and read whatever takes their fancy and not be ashamed of that."
A specially commissioned animation to celebrate the choice of Malorie Blackman as the new Children’s Laureate 2103-15
Malorie Blackman, author of the bestselling Noughts and Crosses series, hopes her appointment as the first black Children’s Laureate will help encourage children from a diverse background to read more.
Ms Blackman, who replaces outgoing laureate Julia Donaldson, was presented with the medal and a £15,000 bursary cheque in King’s Place in London today. She told The Independent: “I feel really excited and just a tad daunted. I can’t wait to get cracking.”
The prolific author of child and teenage fiction will use the platform to call on infant and primary school teachers to spend at least 10 minutes every day on storytelling.
“I’d like to ensure every child of a primary school age has a library card. Where the parents haven’t got one for their child, the schools will step in and make sure they have one,” she added.
Author Malorie Blackman is announced as the new children’s laureate, taking over from Julia Donaldson for the next two years. Three competition winners ask her questions submitted to the Guardian’s children’s books site, including what she intends to do as laureate; how to encourage reading; how to avoid writers’ block; and her recipe for a brilliant book
Go to the link to watch the 8-minute video.
And, Hooray for Malorie!
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, writing in the Telegraph about the need for an increased awareness of the riches available in contemporary young adult literature:
The way forward is to remove the barriers between teenage fiction and the classics, to acknowledge that both have their role in encouraging reading for pleasure, and that those roles may overlap. The national curriculum today gives great leeway in choosing the books that are to be studied, but what that tends to mean is that the selection now falls not to examiners or ministers, nor to pupils, but to their teachers.
To make the most of these freedoms, teachers need to know about teenage writing. They must seize on the work of a new generation of writers for teenagers as a priceless teaching resource. Sadly, the Times Education Supplement’s recent survey of teachers’ top 100 books suggests that their knowledge of new writing is patchy. To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men remain the unimaginative staple diet for many.
This is where school librarians need to come to the curriculum’s rescue. As schools’ resident book experts, school librarians have never been so important as they will be in the next 18 months, as teachers look for support in finding the books that will teach the new curriculum.
The resources we have to inspire young people’s reading are greater and more profound than ever before. If we make the most of them, the results will be extraordinary for individuals and for society. And for the disadvantaged young people the NLT works with, reading is no less than a lifeline.