Young readers throughout Lancashire will be spending their winter evenings deep in a world of fiction – finding the winners of the tenth annual Fantastic Book Awards.
Popular children’s authors Emma Barnes and John Dougherty joined teachers from 120 primary schools across Lancashire at a conference to launch this year’s awards, which are run by Lancashire County Council’s School Library Service.
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “The dark evenings are on their way and this is the perfect time for children and young people to discover the pleasure of a good book, and also the fun that they can have discussing it with other readers.
“I’m very pleased that the Fantastic Book Awards have enjoyed ten successful years and I am sure they will have many more.”
The Fantastic Book Awards encourage reading for pleasure and enjoyment for 9 – 11-year-olds by introducing them to newly published fiction titles.
A selection of six books, from a list of 30, goes to each participating school at the start of the autumn term together with an introductory pack and promotional materials.
The books are usually read in the form of a book club, where titles are discussed and opinions shared in a relaxed setting, to foster enthusiasm for reading as a social activity.
Pupils in school years 5 and 6 from all over Lancashire avidly read and discuss the titles throughout the autumn and spring terms. Voting takes place at the end of the spring term and then schools await the results and the announcement of the eventual winners.
The winning authors receive high-quality fountain pens as prizes, and each school and all participating pupils receive certificates celebrating their achievements.
Emma Barnes said: “It was a huge privilege to be at the tenth anniversary of the Fantastic Book Award – bringing children, teachers, writers and librarians together.”
John Dougherty added: “Taking part in the FBA helps children take ownership of their reading. It’s a great project, and schools should leap at the chance to join in with it.”
The poet Terry Caffrey launched the awards’ inaugural conference in 2005, and since then the School Library Service has welcomed a variety of inspirational authors and illustrators including Andy Cope, Anne Fine, and Tommy Donbavand.