BY TOBY PORTER
School pupils put children’s authors on the spot at a borough’s book awards.
Readers from a string of schools became critics for a day at the Lambeth Phoenix Book Awards.
Streatham & Clapham High School (SCHS) hosted the awards last month, bringing together pupils from 10 Lambeth schools with the opportunity to quiz, review and vote for their favourite authors.
The Phoenix Awards promote children to the driving seat as they short-list from a breadth of genres before crowning the winning author.
Being the judges themselves unlocks opportunities for pupils to experience the world of reading, inspiring the next generation of writers.
The children shortlisted four impressive contenders across genres from sci-fi to real-life. They were:
- Do you Speak Chocolate? by Cas Lester
- The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
- The Colour of the Sun by David Almond
- Scythe by Neal Shusterman, with Scythe the 2019 winner
Nurah, 12, from Dunraven School in Streatham, said: “Phoenix is a rare opportunity for the authors and the students to give and receive new knowledge that can widen their imaginations and inspire.”
Reuben, 13, from Platanos College in Stockwell, said: “The Phoenix Awards help children understand the reasons why authors write.
After participating last year too, I’ve now started to write my own book.”
Helena, 12, from Lilian Baylis Technology School in Kennington, said: “Cas Lester’s character with dyslexia makes it okay to be different.”
Christine Belsham, SCHS librarian, said: “Phoenix is one of our many community partnership programmes.
As a librarian committed to promoting literacy and a love of reading for all children, when I see so many pupils from the local community having a great time together being inspired by books and reading, it makes the hard work of organising and hosting this event a pleasure.”
The Mayor of Lambeth, Ibrahim Dogus, gave the keynote address, and said: “I hope that in 20 years’ time, I can say that I was in a room with the latest award-winning author who was inspired by Phoenix 2019.”
The Phoenix Book Awards help keep Lambeth pupils reading during transition years when they may stop.
All Lambeth children from Year 5 to 8, are invited. In a series of stages over the year, students select a shortlist of four favourite books and then vote for the winner.
This year children participated from: Evelyn Grace Academy, Bishop Thomas Grant, Dunraven, The Elmgreen School, La Retraite, Lilian Baylis Technology School, The Norwood School, Platanos College, Streatham & Clapham Prep School and Streatham & Clapham High School.