The CILIP Carnegie Greenaway Awards

The nomination and judging processes for book awards provide excellent teaching and discussion tools for school librarians.

<< back Page 2 of 2

Using the Award to work with pupils

A regular criticism from school librarians is that the Carnegie list is always too difficult for their reading groups but the organisers of the awards refer back to the criteria, reminding us that it is a literary award - the Mann Booker for children - so the short-list will not just be of enjoyable books, but ‘good' books.  For this reason, shadowing groups for the Carnegie really need to be confident readers aged 12+ to get everything out of it they can.  With this in mind, I recommend the Carnegie short-list to my star readers but do not have a shadowing group; instead I chose to shadow the Greenaway award with a group of Year 7s (11-12 year olds) each year.

The criteria for the Greenaway award say nothing about the target audience of the book, other than 'children and young people' so it is by no means a selection of baby books.  The first session I have with my Year 7s is proving that to them - showing them the variety of works that can be nominated - picture books for babies, toddlers or for older readers, novels that have illustrations, and graphic novels or comic books.  We spend a good six sessions looking at different aspects of the books, some of my best sessions are ‘judging a book by its cover', doing ‘book talks' to promote one of them to the rest of the group, choosing favourite parts to recreate, and finally choosing our favourite. 

Last year one of the books (not the final winner but my personal favourite) was The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers, one page of which is a lot of speech bubbles with pictures of the things the character is interested in.  My pupils re-imagined that page with their own choice of thoughts and it made a wonderful display in the Library.

I tend not to see many of the Greenaway long-list, being in a secondary school library rather than a public library, and just buy the short-list when it is announced.  This year, for the 2011 award, there are 55 books on the Greenaway long-list.

Reviewing the long-list

On the Carnegie list for 2011 there are 52 books and, as of today's date (18th January) I have already read 32 of them.  I thought 18 of them were great reads, I'd say maybe eight of them are close enough to the strict criteria to end up on the short-list, but I'll put my predictions for the final six on my blog, closer to the time.  Of those that I didn't enjoy, a number have literary merit even if I didn't like the story so my list is likely to be different to the real one!  If you want to see both the long-lists in full, and keep track of announcements, check the Press Desk on the CKG website.

The Carnegie Greenaway medals are arguably the most prestigious British children's book award, the equivalent of the American Newberry award, and long may it continue to be so.

Caroline Fielding is a School Librarian in London, UK

<< back Page 2 of 2