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Posted by Kate, September 2, 2010

Books for babies (and pre-schoolers)

This evening, Kate went to the Book Trust Early Years Awards ceremony.

It’s far too early for Nosy Crow (which, let’s remember, hasn’t published a book yet) to be submitting books to awards, but Kate loves books for babies and pre-schoolers.

Once, many years before she had babies herself (and so many, many years ago), Kate went to Wigan.

She went to Wigan because Wigan Council (forgive her: she thinks this is right, but her memory is a bit hazy as to the exact body), was excited by the results coming out of the early Bookstart research. They wanted to give books to every baby in Wigan, because they believed that early exposure to books made children:

  • more successful at school
  • more ready to start school
  • more likely to read and talk about books
  • more likely to visit libraries and borrow books from libraries
  • more likely to have books bought for them and read to them

Kate had just acquired independent publisher Campbell Books from its founder Rod Campbell (whose Goodnight Buster was shortlisted for the Baby Book Award this evening) for Macmillan, the company she then worked for. She’d always been interested in baby books, but Campbell Books was really all about babies and toddlers. She said to Wigan Council that she’d give them some books to give to Wigan babies, and they invited her to come to a Sainsbury’s in Wigan to recruit babies and their parents for the Wigan Bookstart scheme. She’ll never forget approaching parents of a toddler to ask if they’d be interested in joining the scheme, and being looked at as if she were mad: “He can’t read! He’s only two years-old!”. Or being photographed with a baby who stiffened in astonishment when she opened a book – a child who’d perhaps never seen pages turned before, and whose mother acknowledged that there were no books in the house.

At one point, when the National Bookstart Programme ran out of money, just before the government committed to supporting it, Campbell Books donated over 600,000 books to the programme to help keep it going.

So Nosy Crow will publish books for babies because if you don’t start at the very beginning, how can you expect to engage readers later.

This evening, three awards were made by children’s book expert Wendy Cooling on behalf of Booktrust.

The first was for the Best Book For Babies, and went to I Love My Mummy by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Emma Dodd. The book was, as it happens, designed by Steph Amster, who’s joining the Nosy Crow team on 13 September.

The second was for the Best Picture Book (for children under five), and went to evolution tale, One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell. Kate was especially pleased to see two books from the Alison Green Books list on the shortlist, one of them written by Alison herself: Alison was a colleague of Kate’s for 17 years.

The third was for the Best Emerging Illustrator and went to Levi Pinfold for The Django, for his detailed, painterly and highly sophisticated picture book artwork. The book’s published by Templar, who share with Nosy Crow Bounce as their UK and export trade sales agency.

Worthwhile awards. Nice people. Fun evening.

Oh, and Kate tweeted the awards (so apologies if this is all old news). In the course of the event someone asked her to recommend books for a one year-old. Off the cuff, these were her suggestions:

  • Each Peach Pear Plum
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Goodnight Moon
  • Dear Zoo
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Big Book of Beautiful Babies

What books would you suggest? Let us know by commenting on the post.