I’ve been on selection panels before and, whilst enjoyable, it’s not an easy task. People probably assume that we get the whole range of every published title to choose from but that’s not the case. As this initiative relies on the generosity and support of publishing companies, those participating send a variety of books for us to select from. This year we had over 80 titles to read; every book was read by at least two members of the panel but, as chair, I tried to read as many as I could in the time available and yes, it’s most definitely possible to have “too many” books in the pile.
Selecting the shortlist (of 36) was relatively easy but when it came down to choosing the final twelve, it was much more difficult. In a way, what we had to do was pick books that reflected the whole of a school library’s stock: titles that would appeal to both boys and girls, books that would stretch a more-able reader, ones that would appeal to both the reluctant and less-able readers; novels that covered a range of genres. If we, experienced librarians and authors, found this difficult, it makes you wonder how authorities could ever consider that volunteers could run libraries; after all, what skills and knowledge would they apply to stock selection?
We even looked at the visual effect of all the covers together. If we felt that one title wasn’t quite right and replaced it with another then this seemed to affect the balance of the whole list so we ended up shifting books around until we considered we had the best mix. I’m certainly very excited about what was finally selected; a range of both newly published and familiar titles that I’m looking forward to introducing to my students.
I also read books that normally I wouldn’t have chosen. Books that, perhaps, were not my favourite genres or that seemed a bit boring on first impression but when you’re part of a selection panel and those books are on the list, you don’t have much option. Some of those books I thoroughly enjoyed and will be recommending – and isn’t this what we all hope? That by taking part in a shadowing scheme or browsing through a shortlist of titles, students will try something new, something outside their comfort zone that stretches them, that introduces them to a new reading experience and that increases their reading for pleasure.
Hope you enjoy the list …. I look forward to hearing what you think about the selections …