Southern Schools Book Award 2004 Presentation Evening


presentation_eve_04Friday 14th January 2004 saw the first Southern Schools Book Award Presentation Evening. The event took place at the Eastbourne branch of Waterstone’s Book Shop.

Around 100 students and staff of the nine participating schools met to hear four of the five shortlisted authors talk about their books and to discover which of them had won the 2004 award.

For Southern Schools Book Award founder and organiser Mandy Rutter, librarian at Seaford Head Community College, the presentation evening was the culmination of an aim to heighten the ‘Reading for Pleasure’ habit for age 13+ students. This was achieved by bringing their attention to ‘books well worth reading’ by authors of works directed at young people.

Books nominated for the shortlist were Alan Gibbons The Lost Boys’ Appreciation Society, Graham Gardner Inventing Elliot, Sue Mayfield Voices, Eleanor Updale Montmorency and Elizabeth Laird A Little Piece of Ground. Only Elizabeth Laird was unable to attend on the evening.

Reading the titles began in September. Students then discussed, debated and reviewed the merits of each book. Technology linked the schools as students emailed each other across the region with ideas and opinions. They finally voted on their favourite title early in December. The result however, was kept secret until the January event!

The host for the evening was Richard Waring, a teacher from St Bede’s and young children’s writer. He introduced the four authors and with the help of Tabitha de Garis, a year 11 student from Seaford Head, announced the winner, which was Montmorency by Eleanor Updale. The Highly Commended position was won by Alan Gibbons with The Lost Boys’ Appreciation Society.

All of the participating students received a book token presented by Martin Nayler of AccessIT, a Library Management company, who donated £500 to the scheme. Also donated for the event was an array of refreshments from the Seaford branch of Safeway and a generous £90 from the Seaford Head PTFA .

The highlight of the evening for students was the point where they actually got to individually meet and talk to the authors behind the stories. Questions were answered and there was a very real buzz in the dialogue between reader and writer. Reading, at that point, became tangible.

The Southern Schools Book Award scores highly over some award ventures simply because it offers students ownership of the outcome. They read, they voted, their choice won! In other words, what they read and said mattered. It was their evening, theirs to share with the authors.

Participating schools were St Richards in Bexhill, Thomas Peacocke in Rye, Peacehaven, Willingdon, Brighton College, Cardinal Newman, Seaford Head Community College and St Bede’s where particular thanks goes to school librarian Maria Vincent.

The Southern Schools Books Award has also received tremendous support and encouragement from the East Sussex Schools Library Service team.