Showing posts with label World Book Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Book Day. Show all posts

Thursday, 7 March 2019

It's World Book Day.... again... By Dawn Finch

This won't be a long post because I know you are all out and about doing six months' work in a week and rushing about like smacked ponies. I know you won't have time to read a blog post because you're out there trying to fill all the bookings you agreed to last Autumn because you were soooo skint you were saying "yes" to everything.

I know you are all far too busy today to read a full blog post because you are hearing the top hits of every jobbing children's author. Playing those eternal classics including -

  • It Worked Before Break
  • Are You Sure It Was Today?
  • Every Time We Say Goodbye (You'll Need Another DBS check)
  • Only The Lonely (aka The Staffroom At Lunch song)
  • Who Are You?
  • What's Money Got To Do With It?
  • The Kids Are Alright (Honestly...)
  • All You Need Is Love (The Cheque Isn't In The Post)

I thought instead of giving authors a load of tips you already know, I'd instead work on some tips for schools. If all schools follow these simple tips the children will become more engaged as readers and are far more likely to develop a lifelong reading habit. Also, these tips will be more supportive of the writing and illustrating community, and schools will find a greater availability of authors for visits.

So here goes nothing.

Here are my top ten tips for schools this World Book Day

  1. Every day should be World Book Day
  2. Every day should be World Book Day
  3. Every day should be World Book Day
  4. Every day should be World Book Day
  5. Every day should be World Book Day
  6. Every day should be World Book Day
  7. Every day should be World Book Day
  8. Every day should be World Book Day
  9. Every day should be World Book Day
  10. EVERY DAY SHOULD BE WORLD BOOK DAY!

Enjoy!

Dawn Finch is a children's writer, librarian, and library and literacy activist.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

School Visits by Paul May

It’s World Book Day this week. All over the UK and, who knows, maybe all over the world, children’s authors are abandoning their typewriters and keyboards and pens and paper in order to spend hours in trains and cars and hotel rooms and airbnbs and, eventually, in schools.  

Many of those authors will be heading for Primary Schools.  I know a bit about Primary Schools.  I was a teacher in several of them for more than thirty years, and when I hear authors tell their stories of how they've been treated on their visits, from the wonderful to the horrific, I am never surprised.  So, especially for those of you who are new to the experience of school visits, here are a few thoughts.

Let’s assume that you have read the Society of Authors guide for authors visiting schools and libraries, and have helpfully pointed whoever is arranging your visit to the guide for schools organising an author visit.  Let’s not assume they have read that guide!  It may be that the person arranging the visit is a passionate fan of children’s literature, perhaps even of your work, and they have told everyone in the school you are coming and they are all equally enthusiastic.  The children will all have been reading your books and will be brimming over with excitement and anticipation.  There might be banners, flowers, champagne on the table in the staff room . . .

But it may also be that a poor young NQT who has not yet learned how to say 'no' has had the job dumped on them out of the blue, two weeks before WBD. They have never read your books and possibly had never heard of you until a colleague or friend said, ‘Oh, you could try X.  I’ve heard they sometimes visit schools.’  In this case probably most of the children will not have read your books either, and the staff will definitely never have heard of you, but they might be glad of a few minutes to catch up with their marking or data-entry, which they will do while you are doing whatever it is you do with their class. The teaching assistants will probably see this as a chance for a chat, too.   

This, I think, is the most annoying thing of all, but it might make you feel better to know that they do it to supply teachers too, routinely, and even, occasionally, to 'proper' teachers.  Which reminds me of the day when I was covering a Year 4 class for a colleague.  I'd dismissed the children at the end of the day when a woman dressed all in black, dripping with gold jewellery, and sporting bleached blond hair and a deep orange tanning-studio tan stormed into the classroom demanding to speak to the teacher.  'I'm the teacher,' I said.  She paused, then looked me over very slowly from head to foot and then back up to my head again, taking in slightly untidy hair, open-necked shirt and not-very-shiny shoes. 'You're not a proper teacher,' she told me.  This may be why teachers all wear lanyards nowadays.


Illustration by Thomas Henry from William Holds the Stage 

I think Richmal Crompton must have visited a few schools in her time. William fans among you may remember this, from William Holds the Stage.   

“It was an old boy of William’s school, called Mr Welbecker, who with well-intentioned but mistaken enthusiasm offered a prize to the form that should act a scene from Shakespeare most successfully . . . The headmaster and the staff received his offer with conventional gratitude but without enthusiasm.  Several senior members of the staff were heard to express a wish that that fool Welbecker could have the trouble of organizing the thing himself, adding that he jolly well wouldn’t do it more than once.  The junior staff expressed this more forcibly by saying that the blighter ought to be hung.”

Unfortunately William’s class, IIIA, are without a teacher on the morning Mr Welbecker arrives unannounced in school ‘armed with innumerable copies of his article on Shakespeare,’ and offering to give a lecture to the school.  The headmaster suggests that Mr Welbecker give his lecture to IIIA.

“ ‘It’s young Brown and that set,’ murmured the second master warningly.  The headmaster’s expression brightened still further.  So might a man look who was sending his bitterest enemy unarmed and unsuspecting into a lion’s den. 

‘Splendid!’ he said heartily, ‘splendid!  I’m sure they’ll find your lecture most interesting, Welbecker.  Good morning.  I hope to see you, of course, before you go.’

Richmal Crompton had definitely visited schools herself.  This headmaster will almost certainly be in a meeting when the author leaves.  She proceeds to demonstrate how not to talk to a young audience.

“A sudden silence—a silence of interest and surprise—greeted the entry of Mr Welbecker into the classroom of IIIA.

‘Now boys,’ he said breezily, ‘I want to give you a little talk about Shakespeare, and I want you to ask me questions freely, because I’m—er—well, I’m what you might call an expert on the subject.  I’ve written a little book . . . It isn’t everyone who can write a book, you know, is it?’

‘I’ve written a book,’ put in William nonchalantly.”

For anyone who hasn’t encountered this story, which is in William the Pirate, I recommend seeking out Martin Jarvis’s reading on Just William: Volume 3 (BBC).  I remember listening to the tape one sunny afternoon while driving around Los Angeles with five children and three adults all laughing so hard we had to pull the car over so we could recover. 

The thing to remember when you go into a school is that, as with any organisation, there is stuff going on that you know nothing about. When there is no tea/coffee/mug for visitors there has probably been some terrible row over tea money, or dishwashing.  When the staff seem unhelpful or rude it may be that they see the parachuting-in of a visiting author as an implicit (or explicit) criticism from the management of their (allegedly) dull and unimaginative teaching.  This happened to me when an ex-colleague who had been appointed head of a large, failing school, booked me to do an author visit just as she attempted to introduce new approaches to lesson-planning, assessment, behaviour management—you name it.  The teachers were not welcoming.  I definitely felt I had been sent 'unsuspecting into a lion’s den'.

I have also committed one of Mr Welbecker’s errors.  After I retired I was doing a bit of supply teaching and happened to mention to a class that I had written books.  “My dad writes books,” one of the children told me.  I probably said something like, ‘Who’s your dad, then?’  I won’t tell you who his dad was, but he was about as famous as an author gets.

Schools are very odd places, and there are inevitably all kinds of cliques and rivalries and antagonisms going on.  But there is an important clue to let you know what you are in for.  You can tell a lot about a school by the greeting you get from the office staff when you walk through the door. No half-decent headteacher would allow the first encounter parents and visitors have to be with a surly, grumpy, unfriendly, impatient person.  

So, if you arrive at your school to be greeted by a cheerful, friendly smile from the office staff, and they’re expecting you and they look after you like royalty, you’ll probably have a great time.  If they have no idea who you are and make you feel you’re just one more burden they have to put up with, then watch out!

And if you want to know more about the internal workings of the English Primary School you cannot do better than to read The Harpole Report by J L Carr, first published in 1972.  It may be dated in some ways, but it also somehow gets to the heart of what goes on.  And it’s very funny. The story is told from many points of view.  As the blurb on the back says; 'Everyone in the school system has something to write about, not least the school caretaker.'

One of the narrators has this to say on the first page: 'As I have put this business into some sort of order, my sympathy and admiration has warmed not only to several of those caught up in it, but to others unknown to me; isolated little bands, here and there clinging to scarcely tenable positions amidst the dust of battle in the front lines of English Education.'  

Good luck with all those visits.  I will most likely be on my allotment!

Paul May's website is here.  He also has a blog about education, bicycles, trees and various other things called AS IN THE LONG AGO.


Sunday, 4 March 2018

Now, more than ever, young children need to be read to – David Thorpe

Penny Dolan wrote here on 1 March, World Book Day, that she was in a library reading to children. How ironic then that on the same day Northampton County Council announced it was closing 21 libraries and only opening another 21 just one day a week, because of spending cuts.

What a short-sighted decision. Every time a library closes, part of a community dies. Literacy and libraries are part of the glue that binds the members of communities, they provide intellectual and emotional nourishment which, in the case of children, may later help them become more mature members of whatever community they come to live in, and grow into more rounded social beings.

Last month saw the publication of yet another report showing a decline in the number of parents reading to children, saying that less than half of pre-school parents now do this.

There was also another report, that paediatric doctors are finding that children are starting at primary school unable to hold a pencil properly because, rather than being encouraged by their parents to draw or write, they are given iPads or e-notebooks, resulting in diminished digital (in the original sense to do with fingers) dexterity. This impairs their ability to write.

All of these trends bode ill for the future. Reading and writing go together like milk and cereal. Both together nourish the mind and promote healthy intellectual growth. Kids need the added cognitive nutrients that books serve up by stimulating their imaginations and feeding their ability to form critical attitudes.

As Dianne Hofmeyr wrote here a couple of days ago, writers and illustrators – and publishers – are nowadays unafraid to produce books tackling difficult (some say 'dark') subjects. This is not darkness for the sake of darkness, but darkness because without it we – children included – do not fully appreciate the light – and vice versa: without the light we do not appreciate darkness.

We all experience darkness at times, so difficult subjects should be addressed – but with care, to promote understanding and empathy and help stimulate discussions by children. Only by coming to terms with these unpleasant experiences can we become fully rounded adults.

If children's books can help just a little to achieve this then they have done a great job - part of the reason that we have literature.

And part of the reason why we need libraries and need to read to children to get them into the reading habit.

Why do we have to keep repeating this demand? I feel I've been saying this for years. Isn't it obvious? Or is it just that too many other pressures are crowding books out despite it being obvious?

A weekly journey to the library was a staple of my own childhood, and opened my otherwise narrow world to a universe of possibilities. I would not be a writer – with the motto on my website "With imagination we can change the world" – without that library.

When my kids were smaller I looked forward so much to reading to them every night, and so did they – it was a terrific bonding experience. I miss it. I miss reading all the brilliant new books for kids, too, that have come out since – often borrowed from our local library – as well as the old favourites.

If I didn't read to them I made up my own stories – or we would do it together. They might give me an idea to start with and off we'd go, conjuring a new tale out of the air, a collective act of magic. Often I would draw pictures at the same time, illustrating the story while telling it, and we'd end up with a sheet of paper like a scribbled comic book page.

I'd catch my own kids using the box of coloured pens and pencils and stack of paper we always left on the low coffee table for them, scribbling away at drawings while chattering away happily to themselves – making up scenarios and illustrating them, explaining to themselves what they were drawing while drawing it – complete with sound effects (explosions, fights)!

It taught me that drawing is never just drawing but part of a narrative-making process, or perhaps a ritual, and I gained the idea that perhaps cave drawings made by long-ago humans (and Neanderthals, we now know, as well) could have been made the same way – as a collective activity that included the recital of a story or the chanting of songs or the acting-out of a scene. The original multi-media happening.

For culture is what sets us apart from all other animals. This ability to use language, pictures and story-telling is what constructs us as uniquely human, it helps fashion our social sophistication, it is the evolving skeleton of our world-view-making.

Parents must read to children. Libraries must be in every community – they are palaces of wonder. These two things should be laws and breaking them punishable by being made to learn George Orwell's 1984 off by heart. They would be if I were PM.

[I am the writer of Marvel's Captain Britain, the sci-fi YA novels Hybrids, Doc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect and the cli-fi fantasy Stormteller. I also run a regular writing course, called 'Making Readers Care' that can be taken online. Contact me if interested.]

Thursday, 1 March 2018

WORLD BOOK DAY - AND A TOKEN WORRY! by Penny Dolan



Hello! Today it’s WORLD BOOK DAY and a time of great celebration.Here in Britain, schools and children will celebrating books and reading by doing quizzes, having exciting assemblies, dressing up as book characters, maybe parading about the place as such – especially some teachers - and much more. I hope you’ll discover some interesting book titles, enjoy an Author or Illustrator visit or Skype call, perhaps, and most of all, indulge in lots of reading – and writing too, if it fits in with your day.
Image result for World Book Day logo 2018 
Snow permitting, I should be in an Infant & Nursery School the other side of Yorkshire which makes me very happy. I love being with children and sharing their enthusiasm for books and reading so my fingers are crossed for the incoming weather. By the by, I believe this excellent school has been in touch with their fine, local independent children’s bookseller so the day should work out well for everyone.

Yesterday I warmed up for World Book Day by helping out at my local library, where primary children met their local librarian, used their reader tickets, discovered how library shelving worked and learned how to make a cute origami bookmark. (So did I!) She also showed them that some people mark their pages with very strange things, some worse than a turned-down corner. How about an old five-pound note book mark? A helpful rasher of bacon? An unclaimed lottery ticket? Or even a mysterious pair of false eyelashes? What a strange side of life these librarians must see!

Whether or not I make the visit tomorrow (rushes off to check the weather forecast again!) I know that plenty of heroic authors and illustrators are travelling the land and visiting as many schools and children as possible. Some schools will even have sent home letters and arranged book stalls where children can buy one of “their” author’s books and have it signed. And this is where those £1.00 World Book Day tokens come in, because these tokens can be quite complicated little things.

The good bit: WBD tokens are an established part of a great big publicity campaign about the value of books. The WBD scheme was created with the noble intention of helping to get books into the hands of as many children as possible.

However, the tokens aren’t absolutely “free”. The loss isn’t covered by some charity or library or special fund. Real life bookshops and booksellers are the ones who take that £1.00 “hit”, or so I believe. As a group, the booksellers decided to accept WBD promotional tokens in the hope of extra sales but also because they believe World Book Day sparks a wider interest in books & reading throughout the rest of the year. There's also evidence that book ownership is a vital aspect of literacy and therefore a Good Thing. Additionally, so that there is a book available for every child to own, the children’s publishers create a list of World Book Day £1.00 titles each year.

Image result for World Book Day logo 2018However, this complexity can mean that WBD tokens are a slight problem for any visiting author or illustrator whose visit isn’t supported by a local bookshop or similar. As individuals, they aren't really part of the wider WBD scheme. If they bring any book-stock with them, they will have paid for their own titles themselves. The only “free books” that traditionally published authors get from their publisher are the ten or so free “author copies” granted prior to publication, and that’s it. From then on, while authors may get a slight discount, they may well have to buy their own school visiting book-stock.

These authors will have bought the books, stored them, packed them, carted them to the school or wherever, counting them out and then back again, all the while hoping that those big metal cases of purposely over-printed titles aren’t already in school, tempting the children and parents and teachers away from their own non-celebrity, non-media titles.

So, if you call into the school hall and spy an author, any heap of rattling cash or crisp notes they are handling will already be well accounted for. In addition, if you’re imagining vast royalties coming from the stack of books, these may well work out at less than 5p a copy, all if which goes to repaying the original book advance until the title's sales have recouped the publisher’s original outlay. Book finances can feel very circular indeed - and all this is only part of the story!)

Image result for World Book Day logo 2018Don't misunderstand me. I enjoy World Book Day and am very pleased that there are so many people celebrating reading in all sorts of ways and encouraging children in a love of books at home, at school and in local libraries, and children's authors are often as generous as they can be with their books, too.

However, now, if you come across an author on World Book Day who seems less than eager to accept one of the fabulous World Book Day £1.00 tokens, you now know why.

Please buy the author or illustrator's book anyway, there and then and not on Amazon afterwards, if at all possible. And if you've got this far, thank you for listening.

Penny Dolan
 



Sunday, 25 February 2018

Why Authors Enjoy Visiting Schools by Jo Franklin

The weeks surrounding World Book Day are very busy for children's authors. Many will be fully booked with school visits for three weeks, followed by three weeks recovery time as they catch every cold, flu and vomiting virus that have been incubating and mutating in schools all year.

Schools are keen to get an author in on the actual day - 1st March in 2018 - in the hope of ...

Hmm ... what do schools want from an author visit? And why do authors want to visit schools?
Jo Franklin

I've never been a teacher or a school librarian so I can't really answer for what schools want. I hope they want some or all of the following things :

  • Their children to be inspired to read a book that they may have never heard of before because they are able to put a face to the author's name on the cover
  • To meet a role model of someone who has carved out a career in the arts. Many children's authors are female, but by no means all. A woman or man with a successful career in the arts - I hope that is an important message for both girls and boys to hear.
  • The life blood of the author - books, writing and reading - is so strong that it spreads through the school like a wild fire.
  • That children realise that reading and writing are important, special, fantastic and more fun than You Tube videos.
These are certainly the things I want to leave behind when I visit a school. I love meeting my readers and talking about books.



Children's authors spend a lot of time in their writing caves with their own thoughts and fountain pens. The rest of the time they seek out other writers to talk about how their writing is going (or not going) - word count, frustrations with publishers, crazy requests from schools!
Talking to children about books is particularly special though. We write because we love it and we want readers to love our writing. Children's authors have a passion for words, sentences and stories. Most of us don't have much time for grammar with long meaningful names (fronted adverbial, no thanks). We love libraries and our homes are stuffed with books. We live, breathe and eat words every day.

Authors Love Books!


So schools, if you invite an author into your school (whether around World Book Day or another time) allow them to inspire your children. 
  • Make a display on your noticeboard. 
  • Tell the children they are meeting a celebrity.  
  • Buy the author's books for your library. 
  • Beg the author to hang around at the end of the day to sign books the children have bought. 
  • Please don't treat us a nuisance, a supply teacher or a money grabbing drain on your scarce financial resources. We don't visit schools to make money. We need to be paid because we are skilled professionals. We visit schools to share the love of words. 
This year on World Book Day 1st March 2018 I am visiting Harris Primary Merton to talk about Help I'm a Genius and what it is like to be a full time writer. I can't wait!

Jo Franklin






Monday, 9 October 2017

Not another World Book Day grumble... Anne Rooney


Like many other authors, I'm not a fan of the latest World Book Day list with its liberal smattering of celebrities and overdose on humour. But rather than just grumble, I thought it would be more fun to think how it could be done better. It is called World Book Day. The focus is on the books, not the authors. Perhaps it should try to present as varied a book diet as possible, to maximise the chances of each child being able to find something they like. Books are not all funny stories. They are not all stories even (though you'd be hard pressed to realise that looking at the list). If I had charge of World Book Day, it would go something like this.

1. I'd keep Oi Goat! Kes Gray and Jim Field are great, and real professionals. And there should be *at least* one picture book in the list.
2. This year, I might keep the Paddington book, as Michael Bond has only just died and his work is worthy of being introduced to a new generation.
3. A scary story by Chris Priestley - he writes a lot of short stories so will have no trouble fitting the format, and scary stuff for the WBD age group gets no coverage.
4. One or more traditional myths - perhaps a retelling of a Greek myth by Lucy Coats or Saviour Pirotta. Children love Greek myths, but how many are introduced to them these days?
5. Animal stories - always popular; perhaps something from Michael Morpurgo's collection.
6. Fantasy - this is so wide-ranging from  Potteresque magic to sci-fi. Maybe something a bit different, like Inbali Iserles' Foxcraft.
7. Historical fiction - there's lots to choose from, from Ancient Rome (Caroline Lawrence) (and even earlier) onwards.
8. Poetry - again, there's lots of brilliant poetry for children. It doesn't have to be comic, but it can be. Maybe something by John Agard.
9. Science - there's any number of brilliant books about science, including nature, space, dinosaurs, the Earth... Nicola Davis's nature books are beautiful.
10. And finally... given the current climate, I'd opt for another bit of non-fiction on a very important topic, Chris Ridell's My Little Book of Big Freedoms.

Obviously, I have not put as much work into this list as the WBD might be expected to do. Any improved suggestions heartily welcomed. But maybe they could take on board that there is a HUGE variety of books that children can enjoy if we just help them to find what they like.

Anne Rooney
The Shipwrecked Rhino (non-fiction blog)
Out this month: Dinosaur Atlas (Lonely Planet);
beautifully illustrated by James Gilleard


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

World Book Day 2016: It's Almost Here... by Emma Barnes

World Book Day 2016 will soon be upon us! The official date is Thursday, 3rd March, but like many other children's authors, my World Book Day tends to spread out over more than a week. I get invited to lots of schools, and perform tasks as diverse as opening new libraries or judging fancy dress competitions (impossible!). But always, always I'm spreading the word about love of books and reading.
Talking about books

There's been a few new books since
signing for pupils


Enjoying the new library

Travelling has its compensations


Another school library!


Somebody's listening
An unfortunately placed arrow

This school were prepared!

Reading aloud is vital


Here's just some of the things I try to do:
- talk about my own favourite books and why they got me writing
- help kids see books can be an escape into another world
- show that love of reading is a life-long gift
- read aloud to the kids, and get them engrossed in an exciting, funny or dramatic passage
- explain that being a good writer is not mainly about punctuation and spelling: it's about imagination and being able to make a reader feel “What happens next?”
- ask the kids about their own favourite books
- acknowledge that not everyone likes reading – but sometimes its just a matter of finding that special book that gets you excited and into that reading habit.

I often do writing workshops with the kids, and I've got aims for those too. I try and do activities that reflect the way I work as a writer, and which will either complement what the children do in school, or else show them an entirely new way of doing things. The National Curriculum can be extremely prescriptive, and its exciting and liberating for children to find that they don't always need to plan a story a particular way (or at all) – and that “real” writers work in different ways, and so can they. Some of my principles are:
- reading aloud gets the imagination working
- it's about the process, not the result (children shouldn't feel afraid to fail)
- all writers have different methods
- there's a time to worry about spelling and a time to go with the flow
- everyone should be able to join in
- writing can be fun and playful
- let's celebrate the (funny, moving, scary, atmospheric, always imaginative) results.

And finally here's some of the things I will try not to do:
- get lost on the way to school
- take the wrong exit on the motorway
- forget my Sat Nav
- forget my memory stick or “clicker”
- forget my lunch
- get locked into the school car park
- trip over a cable or crash into a whiteboard
- eat too many biscuits or (horror of horrors!) use somebody's favourite mug in the staffroom.

It's going to be a full-on, fun, exhausting, time. I'm looking forward to it – and I'm looking forward to coming out the other side too.


Happy World Book Day (in two weeks from now) to you!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Emma's Website
Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite
Emma's Wild Thing series for 8+ about the naughtiest little sister ever. (Cover - Jamie Littler)
"Hilarious and heart-warming" The Scotsman

 Wolfie is a story of wolves, magic and snowy woods...
(Cover: Emma Chichester Clark)
"Funny, clever and satisfying..." Books for Keeps

Friday, 20 March 2015

Books and Unusual Forms of Transport - Joan Lennon

I use transportation, but I don't think about it a lot.  And as long as I HAVE books to read on a train or a bus or in my handbag in case the car breaks down, I don't think about "transportation and books" a lot.  But then, last week, I saw these two videos, which include unusual forms of transport and books.  Which made me think.






Comments?



Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

So You Want to be a Writer... by Savita Kalhan


In a recent YouGov poll, a respectably large sample of 14, 294 people in Britain were polled as to what professions they would choose to pursue out of an array of 31 professions. These included standard middle-class professions such as doctor, lawyer and accountant, well-paid jobs such as investment banker, aspirational jobs such as TV presenter, Formula 1 driver, Olympic athlete, astronaut (!), and Hollywood movie star, as well as standard jobs such as estate agent, taxi driver and flight attendant.  

Surprisingly, being an author was the number one most desired job in Britain, with 60% of the sample choosing to be an author! Perhaps even more surprisingly, given that libraries are being closed left, right and centre, being a librarian was the second most desired job, with 54% of the sample choosing to be a librarian. I’m not sure there are enough libraries left for the number of people wanting to be librarians, if the survey is to be believed! Still, with the expansion of tertiary education in recent years, Briton's third favourite choice of profession (50% of the YouGov sample) is perhaps a more sensible choice for Britain's apparent majority of bookish types.

Can it really be true, that Britain, once derided as a nation of shopkeepers, then dismissed as a nation of parasitic bankers, investment bankers and real estate agents, has now evolved into a nation of would-be authors and librarians? As YouGov puts it: "Instead of actors and musicians, it seems that an aura of prestige still surrounds the quiet, intellectual life enjoyed by authors, librarians and academics."

I have to say that, notwithstanding YouGov's "quiet intellectual life" rationale, I am somewhat puzzled and bemused by the results of the YouGov poll, particularly in relation to authors and librarians. More popular than being investment bankers or MPs - yes, I can see that, given recent history, notwithsanding the pay and perks; but more popular than Hollywood movie stars?

Is it really possible that being an author is seen as a glamorous profession? Is it perhaps still seen by the general public  as a high-earning profession? Or do people think that a book can be thrown together relatively quickly, without having to get out of your pyjamas and then perhaps the rest of the day can be spent in quiet contemplation, leisurely long walks and reading? Or is it perhaps because of the increased ease of self-publishing, the growth of epublishing via Amazon and other forums and the very occasional success story associated with self-publishing.

Based on the average annual earnings of a writer of about £11,000/yr, that means that should those 60% decide to give a writing career a go, they would, in all likelihood, be living below the poverty line. Some writers don’t even manage to scrape a living from writing: according to a US-based survey of 1,879 published authors carried out by Digital Book World earlier this year, almost a third of published authors make less than $500 (£350) a year from their writing. Only a tiny and, to borrow YouGov's terminology, statistically insignificant minority earn the big bucks. Read the full article here.

Of course, none of it can be achieved without a huge amount of discipline and hard graft, no matter how fast the story comes to you. And once the story is written – you have to sell it, which is another story entirely.

So while I absolutely love what I do, I don’t see it through rose-tinted glasses. It’s a tough business and getting tougher by the minute. But it’s good to know that the process of writing, being an author and being in and around libraries are still valued and held in such high regard.

Despite the public support for libraries, libraries are still closing. The recent #SaveBarnetLibraries campaign lost in the farcical council vote on Tuesday evening where the Mayor accidently voted FOR saving libraries and then ran away, before returning and changing the vote he had cast to AGAINST to chants calling for his resignation. Save Barnet Libraries Facebook page

Today is World Book Day and there are lots of events happening across ‘Bookish Britain.’ Look out for the online Teen Festival, which you can follow on Twitter, @WBDTeenFest, Facebook and Google. Here’s the link to the webpage http://www.wbdteenfest.com/

I’m off to talk about organising teen reading groups in Barnet libraries. Let’s see if we can’t still save a few more libraries!


On a final and very sad note, I wanted to add my voice to all those who are mourning the loss of Mal Peet, a great writer whose work touched many kids and adults. Mal Peet's first novel, Keeper, won the Branford Boase Award and the Bronze Nestle Children's Book Award; Tamar won the Carnegie Medal; and Exposure was the 2009 winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. Life: An Exploded Diagram, published in 2011, is an amazing book. The Murdstone Trilogy was published in November last year, and is his last book. It makes me unutterably sad that there will be no more books by him.   



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