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Posted by Nosy Crow, February 14, 2014

The Hampshire Picture Book Award

Today’s guest post is by Alison Burkert and introduces the Hampshire Picture Book Award.

We all know how wonderful picture books can be; the stories and illustrations within can inspire the imagination and foster a love of reading in even the most reluctant reader, so what better way to celebrate this fabulous medium than with a book award, where the children get to choose the winner.

Now in its 5th year, the Hampshire Picture Book Award aims to celebrate the wonderful variety of picture books available to children today. School Library Service Advisers and teachers put together a short list of four titles chosen from the huge range of picture books published during the previous year, which are then presented to the Year 1 pupils of our participating subscribing schools to pick their favourite. Previous winners of this award have included Emily Gravett’s Wolf Won’t Bite and Katie Cleminson’s Otto the Book Bear, and the latest shortlist offers our pupils a great selection to choose from too!

This year’s shortlist features Mini Grey’s Toys in Space, Courtney Dicmas’ Harold Finds a Voice, Alex Latimer’s Lion vs. Rabbit and Leigh Hodgkinson’s Troll Swap, published by Nosy Crow! Each of the books will be judged by the 145 participating schools, with approximately 7500 children contributing to the selection of the winner throughout the spring term.

The Hampshire Picture Book Award provides schools with a great opportunity to promote an enjoyment of reading to their pupils, and improve teachers’ knowledge of new books, getting everyone enthusiastic about brilliant books to share together. By participating in the award, children are able to develop a range of wider skills; learning to critically evaluate different materials and expanding on their listening and speaking skills in the class discussions that take place during the deliberation process. An excellent list of activity suggestions created by a Year 1 teacher, Michelle Aston, are also provided to participating schools to tie in with the wider curriculum, ensuring that schools can truly embrace and get the most from their involvement in the award. For example, some of the suggested activities for this year’s nominated title Troll Swap include using an art lesson to make troll puppets, or having a go at representing the movements of the trolls during PE – a great way to capture their imagination and the spirit of the book!

Best of all, the award has huge benefits for the pupils as individuals. Feedback from previous years has shown us that the children are immensely proud to have the responsibility of being judges, to have the power to vote for something themselves, rather than have the adults choose for them! This inevitably boosts their confidence and self-esteem in knowing that it is their opinion that really matters, and is really what makes this award so special.

Books shortlisted for the award are judged on the three Ss – style, story and stretch. From the layout of the book, to whether the pictures help to understand the story, to if the book stirs their imagination or makes them want to recommend it to others, the children are asked to consider a variety of different elements, comparing and contrasting them against the other nominees before selecting their favourite. Once all the schools have had their chance to submit their votes, we announce the winner in April, later hosting an extremely popular presentation ceremony, where the winning author is presented with their award in front of an audience of mini-judges from some of the participating schools. The presentation ceremony is a fantastic reward for the children who are involved in judging the award. Not only do they get to see the culmination of their hard work in selecting a winner, they also get to meet and listen to a successful author enthuse about reading and a love of books, inspiring the pupils and supporting the promotion of a reading culture in schools.

In Hampshire, we are hugely proud of our Picture Book Award. It is a great way of creating a buzz in our subscribing schools about books and reading, and allows children of all abilities to have access to inspirational and imaginative picture books. Children are great judges, they can quickly tell you whether they think something is good or bad, so who better to select a winner from a shortlist of picture books, than the audience for whom the books were created in the first place?!

We look forward to finding out what Hampshire’s children choose this year. Good luck to all our nominees!

Thank you, Alison, for sharing news about the Picture Book Award, and good luck, Leigh! You can find out more about the Award here, take a look inside Troll Swap below, and order the the book online here.