Sheffield youngsters decide on best children’s author

Judging panel for Sheffield Children's book Awards from Forge Valley Community School'Maisie Marsh
Judging panel for Sheffield Children's book Awards from Forge Valley Community School'Maisie Marsh
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They’ve spent months with their heads buried in works of literature – but now these young bookworms are being thrust into the limelight.

Youngsters from Forge Valley Community School in Stannington will take centre stage as Sheffield honours the best children’s writers in the UK.

Boys and girls who played a part in judging the winners of the annual Children’s Book Awards are set to give a critique of the novels shortlisted in the young adult category.

After spending the best part of a year reading the six shortlisted works they will deliver speeches about them to an audience of hundreds – including some of the authors themselves – in a ceremony at Sheffield City Hall on November 28.

Jennie Wilson, a service development manager for Sheffield Libraries, said: “In January librarians and teachers sit down and whittle down the shortlists from about 150 books.

“From then it’s up to the kids. These awards are very child-focused and it’s all about the pleasure of reading.

“The feedback we get from authors is great. Who better to judge children’s novels than children themselves?

“I think it means a lot to winners that they were picked by their target audience. We get reviews passed on from the kids and we give them to the authors to read on the train home.”

This year the awards ceremony celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Forge Valley pupils form part of a judging panel made up of hundreds of book enthusiasts from 172 schools across the city.

Librarians and teachers work together to produce shortlists for each of the categories – young adult, picture book, shorter novel, longer novel and baby book – in January.

Panels of young reviewers are recruited around March.

Julie Roxbrough, a library co-ordinator at Forge Valley Community School, said: “The children are very enthusiastic about getting involved.

“They show a lot of commitment and have clubs and discussion groups to help them pick their favourites.”