Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Bookbuzz longlist 2014

Bookbuzz is an annual reading programme for schools from reading charity Booktrust, which supports schools in their efforts to encourage reading for pleasure, independent choice and that all important mission of developing a whole school reading culture. Schools that participate in the scheme allow all year 7 pupils to select a book (to keep) from a list of 12 specially selected titles. You can read more about it here- The Book Buzz Scheme

Anyhoo, this year, I am one of the individuals on the "Panel of Experts", to quote the website, that determine what this final list of 12 is going to be.

This is two things.
For starters, it's a massive privilege to get to work with an organisation that has such a brilliant, clear and purposeful mission. Who can disagree with spreading the joy of reading? Why would you not want to be part of that? I'm amazed that they asked me, out of all the bloggers, booksellers, librarians, mums and dads, and children's book readers that exist in the World and on the Internet.
It's also hugely scary. Not just because whittling a longlist of 50 down to 12 a little bit hard. My year 7s loved their books last year. Four months later, they still talk to me about them, still want to read the other 11 that they didn't choose. It got them started in their new school in the best way imaginable- it allowed them to get to know each other, get to know me, and get to know some excellent books well. It's a pretty big responsibility. To be one of the 5 or 6 people that has to choose the book that might switch a kid on to books forever. Picking the right books is going to be tough when there's so many excellent titles out there.

I've always thought that the sheer variety of novels written for the Young Adult audience is incredible. This shortlisting exercise has just entrenched that further- there are as many types of YA novels as there are young adults to read them. There's every 'issue' you could think of, every type of character, with every imaginable quirk and pretty much every setting or location you care to mention. I think special mention has to go to the titles written for reluctant readers- the sheer effort that has to go into enticing non-readers to pick up a book. Setting it against a backdrop of football, ghost stories, ninjas, vampires...any hook that might get caught in the imagination of somebody that doesn't read. I have the utmost respect for publishers like Barrington Stoke, Hachette and Rising Stars and the authors that they work with that try so hard to make books accessible and exciting.

I'm so pleased I've had the chance to read some of these books, there are a handful of titles that I've already assigned to particular kids in my head knowing that they'll be right up their street. Plenty more that I know are going to be choosing them for themselves. I always tell myself I'll read more YA for work, but I always find excuses to read for me instead. Being part of this process has given me the focus that I need to really dig into in some new YA literature. It's made me better able to do my job, which means that more kids and teens at my school are going to get more informed access to the books they want to read, and so I'm quite thankful to the Book Trust for that.

All the titles I've reviewed/thought about for the BookBuzz longlist can be found unfer the Bookbuzz Longlist tag

Last Year's Selection

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