This is an archive of the 2009-10 Northern Ireland Book Award. View details of this year's award

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About the Award

Background

Local book award schemes to encourage and develop a love of reading have been springing up in the past few years in England and Scotland but until now there has been no such award in Northern Ireland. In an attempt to rectify this, two school librarians, Ann Cowdrey and Kathy Lindsay, decided to introduce such a scheme to the Province.

Funding for this initial year came from a bequest for children and reading - the Wendy Drewett bequest - and this was acknowledged in the award title. Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs provided each of the 22 participating schools with one copy of each of the 12 short-listed titles and this, combined with sponsorship of some prizes and one author visit, is indicative of their commitment to the initiative.

The Initiative

Children are the driving force behind the scheme and it is their suggestions which provide the foundation. All year 8-9 school pupils in Northern Ireland were invited to submit nominations which fit specified criteria. Booksellers, too, submitted nominations according to sales figures, as a fair reflection of what young people were actually reading and again the nominations had to fit the specified criteria.

The whole emphasis is on books that are exciting and encourage children to read more books and the over-riding aim is to see book-centred social interaction and debate amongst young people from all community sectors.

Author events, book-related drama workshops and creative writing events centred round a short list of books are taking place between November 2009 and March 2010, and pupils will vote for their favourite title by 17th March 2010.

The Northern Ireland Drewett Book Award winner will be announced at a glitzy award ceremony on 24th March 2010.

The Future

The initiative is being run as a pilot this year but it is believed that the scheme has the potential to become an annual event including all Northern Ireland post-primary schools.

Long term sponsorship to ensure sustainability is the current focus of the organisers.

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