As the Librarian at Cranleigh Prep School I run an Awesome Book Awards Book Club once a week in my library and at present I have 17 members. This by no means excludes any other pupils who wish to shadow the awards and in fact I have 26 other pupils and 4 members of staff also reading the books.
I thought it would be useful to all our schools registered to give you some idea of how I run my book club and please feel free to share with me any ways in which you too inspire your pupils to read the shortlist and I will post them here on the Blog.
Our first meeting was a flurry of handing out the bookmarks and the reading postcards to rate the books once read and so much excitement from seeing that I had multiple copies of all the books! In our first activity I asked the group to decide if they went into a bookshop to buy one book from the shortlist with their own money which one would they be immediately be drawn to and why. They recorded this on a handout without sharing their choice with anyone else.
It is great to look back on these once they have read all the books to remind them of their initial thoughts. Having read all the blurbs the pupils left with their first book. I choose to let the children read the shortlist in which ever order they like, but the one rule we always stick to is that NOBODY is to give any spoilers when we are discussing the books!
The second time we met I told them how many opted for each book which they found rather surprising and we continued to look at the book covers in much more detail. We discussed everything from the layout, font, title, design, and colour palette and how these things convey details of what the book may be about to the potential reader.
The bird on the cloud on the cover of ‘Being Miss Nobody’ provoked some fabulous responses as to why it was there and it’s moments like this which confirm why I love working with children and books! I have asked lots of my classes to try and guess which country they thought ‘Running on the Roof of the World’ was set in before I read them the blurb. Once we narrow it down to India/Nepal/Tibet region, I follow on asking what animal they think is illustrated? This book cover is such a great example of how design, title and use of font all contribute to highlighting the setting.
The cover of ‘Starman and Me’ was perhaps the most intriguing as the pupils were divided as to whether the camber at the bottom was the earth or the moon and what is in the character’s hand. There were questions as to why the girl on the cover of ‘The Ice Garden’ has her arm outstretched and is it her in the bed or someone else? Does this mean she is dreaming?? The cover of ‘Brightstorm’ was the only one familiar to them all as I had used this book for one of my ‘Book Quote of the Week’ items last school year.
The children were keen to point out all the details featured and noted the limited use of colour and how well this worked. The clever positioning of the title was pointed out and some of them are convinced that Brightstorm really is emblazoned across the balloon of the skyship.
May I take this opportunity to congratulate all the cover illustrators of our shortlisted books; Emma Trichart, George Ermos, Rob Biddulph, Helen Crawford-Wright, Sam Kaldo & Nicola Theobald. They are pretty awesome too! I am so pleased that the majority of children’s publishers are giving credit to the cover illustrators by putting their name on the back cover.
Alison Fenton, Librarian, Cranleigh Prep School