Bookworms flock to first annual Islington Children’s Book Award

Islington primary school students with their favourite books. Steve Bainbridge

Islington primary school students with their favourite books. Steve Bainbridge - Credit: Archant

Nightmarish dinner ladies are a recipe for success if the first annual Islington Children’s Book Award is anything to go by.

Pamela Butchart won the first Islington Children's Book Awards

Pamela Butchart won the first Islington Children's Book Awards - Credit: Archant

Taking home the top prize in the award, voted for by primary school children, teachers, and librarians from across the borough, was Pamela Butchart with Attack of the Demon Dinner Ladies.

More than 200 bookworms voted from 41 Islington primary schools, with many of them invited to the Emirates Stadium last week to discover the winner.

Pamela said: “Thank you so much to everyone who read and voted for my book – I am so grateful to win this award and am lost for words.

“When I was younger I never thought I would be a writer, but I think this goes to show that if you have a big imagination and people to help and support you, you can do anything.”

The event also included a question and answer session in which pupils asked why the authors decided to become writers, how they thought of ideas for their stories and what their favourite books were as children.

It’s part of the “Islington reading road map” project – a map of sorts that shows books and genres instead of real places.

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It encourages children to discover new stories and authors by following “roads” marked with their favourite genres. They can read up to 60 books.

The idea is to improve literacy and interest in reading for primary school children. It has already been successful across the world.

Alexandra Fernandez, who teaches in Blessed Sacrament Primary School, said: “With this initiative in Islington there is a much broader range of books which we didn’t have before.

“We have noticed a much deeper interest in reading for pleasure, especially with boys, because there are more books which are accessible and enjoyable for them.”

The road map will conclude at the end of June, with a large student raffle in which the more books students read the higher chance they have of winning.

“Out of 3,000 targeted children, 2,500 participated. Most of those read more than five books and some have read up to 60,” said John Calcott, head of the borough’s education library service.

Shane Hegarty, one of the runner-ups for the award, said: “Anything that gets kids reading is fantastic, but there is a particular vibe about this I liked from the very beginning. The road map is a very clever idea and it’s clearly being put together by people who love reading.”

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