Newcastle University has been helping to foster a love of reading in children with a gift of books to a community-run library.Friends of Jesmond Library will officially open their doors to the public this Saturday (21 September 2013) and on the shelves will be 80 additional children’s titles chosen by academics from the Children’s Literature Unit.
“When selecting the ‘must-haves’ for Jesmond Library, we wanted to reflect the strong tradition of children's literature in the region,” explained Dr Lucy Pearson, who chose the books with colleagues Professor Kimberley Reynolds and Professor Matthew Grenby. “North East writer David Almond, for example, is one of the most exciting contemporary writers of children's literature and we love the way he mixes weird and wonderful happenings with very realistic pictures of the world.”
Other North East writers in the collection include Eva Ibbotson, who was born in Vienna but lived most of her adult life in Jesmond, and Robert Westall, whose 1975 story The Machine Gunners contains a vivid picture of Tynemouth which is still recognisable today. The books by Almond, a visiting professor at Newcastle University, include Savage and Skellig.
“Libraries are an important means of celebrating reading,” Dr Pearson added. “Many famous writers got hooked on books at their local library, and we're very happy that Jesmond Library will remain open to make books more accessible to local children.”
To celebrate the library opening, a few books about books also made the list, including Lauren Child's Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book (a creative take on traditional fairytales) and Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini's Books Always Everywhere, two beautiful picturebooks which show that books can be exciting for even the youngest readers.
There are also “books which no library should be without” according to Dr Pearson, such as Jacqueline Wilson, the most borrowed author in British libraries, and Janet and Alan Ahlberg's Each, Peach, Pear, Plum, which has delighted generations of readers.
“After the spectacular celebration of children's literature in the 2012 Olympics, we also had to include a book by the writer of the Olympics opening ceremony, Frank Cotterell Boyce - The Unforgotten Coat - a funny and moving story about the power of friendship,” she added. “We hope that our selection of books will help to kickstart an exciting new era for Jesmond Library.”
Seven Stories staff added to the University’s list with a wide range of wonderful titles such as Lucy Cousins' Hooray For Fish, which offers bright and exciting illustrations to engage even the youngest babies.
“These new books will make a big difference to the children’s section and we are extremely grateful to the University for the donation,” said volunteer and trustee Catherine Pagan. “Hopefully they will bring in more children from the community who thought they had read most of our books. Now they can enjoy working their way though all of these as well.”
Jesmond Library, which was opened in 1963, was closed as a council-run facility by Newcastle City Council on Saturday 29 June 2013, as part of a series of budget cuts. The Friends of Jesmond Library are officially re-opening the building as a community-run library this Saturday 21 September from 3pm until 6pm.
published on: 17 September 2013