Scottish Children’s Book Awards

Today I was lucky enough to be invited to the Scottish Children’s Book Awards ceremony which was held in the wonderful setting of the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.  This celebration of Scottish literaturewas originally set up by the Scottish Arts Council in 1999 but is now run by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland.

Record numbers of children took part in the voting, with over 23,000 children from all over Scotland voting for their favourite books – a staggering 42% more than last year – and over a quarter of all Scottish schools registering to take part. Votes were cast from every single Scottish education authority, from Dumfries and Galloway to Shetland, in schools, libraries and nurseries.

The ceremony started with the authors and illustrators from the shortlisted books in the Bookbug Readers category (0-7 years)drawing characters from their books live on the stage.  In addition to drawing in front of a live audience the illustrators were also interviewed by fellow shortlisted author Chae Strathie! I was extremely jealous as each of the illustrators effortlesslybrought to life characters from their books. Winner of the Bookbug Readers category was Ross Collins for his picture book Dear Vampa (published by Hodder Children’s Books). Ross said:

“I am delighted and honoured to win the Bookbug Readers Category of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2011 for ‘Dear Vampa’. I’d like to thank all the schools and children who participated this year. I only wish that I could bite each one of them personally.”

For the Younger Readers category (8-11 years) we were entertained with videos of how school pupils across Scotland had engaged with the books in this category.  This ranged from quizzes to devising their own version of top trumps based on some of the characters from one of the books!  Winner of this category was debut young-fiction author Ross MacKenziefor his first novel, Zac and the Dream Pirates (published by Chicken House). He said:

“I’m delighted (and stunned!)…Knowing that thousands of children across Scotland have enjoyed my book enough to vote for it is incredible. Perhaps it’s fitting that the story is about dreams – I can’t help thinking I’m going to wake from this one at any minute!”

The final category was the Older Readers (12-16 years). The Lyceum youth theatre had adapted a chapter from each of these novels and performed them to the captivated audience.  I’m sure the authors were delighted to see their novels brought to life in such excellent fashion.Popular teenage fiction author Nicola Morgan, based in Edinburgh, won the Older Readers Category (12-16 Years) for Wasted (published by Walker). Nicola commented:

“I am overwhelmed and still can’t quite believe it. ‘Wasted’ was a risky book to write, because it’s unusual – well, ok, weird – and that meant it was really hard to predict whether readers would respond well. But the risk paid off and I’m utterly thrilled and incredibly grateful to all the readers who voted and the adults who worked so hard to organise the awards.”

Nicola also thanked school librarians for the ‘wonderful work they do in helping readers in schools’ and made a plea that the importance of school libraries is not underestimated.  

Also present at the award ceremony was Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell who said:

“One of the important things about these awards is that the readers decides who wins, meaning the children themselves are not only encouraged to read, but also to think about the books and share their thoughts by writing reviews. 

“Reading is one of the most important life skills we can have. It helps us learn and improves our communication skills, as well as bringing huge enjoyment.’’ 
My thanks to all of the team at the Scottish Book Trust for a wonderful afternoon!

Videos of each author reading and talking about their book are available

Have you read any of the winning books? Do you agree or disagree with the winners?  Please let us know your thoughts!