Camden students choose which books have the write stuff

Students from seven Camden secondary schools were joined by author Julie Hearn when they discussed their favourite books as part of an event to celebrate the national Carnegie Medal for children’s writers.

Each school gave a presentation about their favourite books on the Carnegie shortlist before a show of hands to decide the Camden winner. They were then told which writer had won the national prize.

Children from Swiss Cottage School also gave a presentation to celebrate the Kate Greenaway Medal for distinguished illustration in children’s books.One of the books, Tinder by Sally Gardner, was shortlisted under both awards.

It was among a total of eight Carnegie shortlisted titles discussed by the children at the event. Eight books were also on the Kate Greenaway shortlist.

Author Julie Hearn, herself a former Carnegie Medal nominee, led discussions on how each book tackled issues such as love, family relationships and racism, as well as whether realism is more powerful than fantasy and how important illustrations are to books.

The local Carnegie ‘winner’, chosen by a show of hands from the students, was Patrick Ness’s emotional and thought-provoking mystery More Than This. However, the national Carnegie Medal winner was Tanya Landman’s American Civil War drama Buffalo Soldier.

The Camden secondary schools which took part were Acland Burghley, Haverstock, Parliament Hill, William Ellis, UCL Academy, Camden School for Girls and La Sainte Union Catholic Secondary School.

Swiss Cottage School students voted for Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner as the best illustrated children’s book but the official 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal winner was Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill.

The annual Carnegie celebration event on Monday, 22 June was organised by Camden’s schools library service and Haverstock School, in Chalk Farm, which hosted the event this year.

Nadia Cotena, head of learning resources at Haverstock School, said: “It was wonderful to see so many schools in Camden come together to celebrate reading at Haverstock, with teenagers sharing their views so passionately about books they enjoyed and ready, willing and able to discuss themes and concepts in literature with such enthusiasm. This is a testament to the value of school library book clubs in building passionate reading champions. It was a fantastic, inspiring afternoon and well worth the time spent organising it.”

Other guests included the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Larraine Revah, who opened the event, Councillor Abdul Hai, Camden Council’s Cabinet Member for Customers, Communities and Culture, and Martin Pratt, Camden’s director of children, schools and families.

Councillor Hai, who announced the national Carnegie Medal winner to the students, said: “Your ability to debate, analyse and respect each other’s views has been amazing. This is a great example of how our teachers, students and schools library service are working together to encourage reading and writing to help you fulfil your aspirations. Congratulations to all the Camden students who took part in this fantastic annual event.”

Find out more