The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only national book award in the UK voted for entirely by children and it’s super easy for you and any children you spend time with to get involved.
All the kids need to do is read all each book in the category (categories) of their choice and then vote, by ranking the books in order of preference. I’m getting the kids at my girls’ school voting and here’s how we’re running our sessions.
Every Friday afternoon I have a 1 hour slot with groups of 5-7 year olds where we read and craft and do whatever I can think of to showcase reading for pleasure, reading for joy. I’m currently using this slot to read all four shortlisted books in the Younger Children category ie picture book category. The shortlisted books in this category are:
You can buy all four books at discounted prices on the Red House website, here.
All these picture books are quite short picture books and so I’ve found it works just fine reading them all in one go with the 30 kids in my group. Normally after the third book I get them to stand up and have a jiggle, but otherwise they sit entranced.
After having read all four books, I hand out the voting slips. I’m using the one below created by Library Mice, which she’s kindly agreed to let me share with you (click here to download the pdf file):
I explain they need to ring one number next to each book, with the numbers corresponding to their preferences ie their favourite book gets 1 ringed, their least favourite book gets 4 ringed. You don’t have to use this voting form – please feel free to create your own one if you’d like to.
Once the forms are filled in the kids get to post their votes in our ballot box:
As the kids post their votes I check that they’ve filled out the voting form appropriately ie each number is ringed once. If a voting form is incomplete (which happens with perhaps 10 % of the forms) I ask the children to get some help from the teaching assistant I have in my session.
Having voted, we move on to a crafty project related to the books we’ve read (I deliberately don’t do the craft project before voting for fear that it might influence the vote!)
The crafty project I’ve been doing with kids at school is creating our own Peely Wally chicks.
I give each child a plastic egg (Baker Ross sells them here if you want to order some in the UK)…
…which they decorate with coloured circular stickers, the sort you can get in most stationary stores (Rymans sells them here if you want to order some in the UK).
Then each kid gets a Peely Wally chick to colour, and complete by sticking two eyes and a beak on (I use these sticker eyes, but you could use googly eyes, and for beaks the kids use little triangles of card and pritt stick). I created a Peely Wally chick outline, and Peely Wally creator, Kali Stileman, has graciously allowed me to closely follow her design and share it with you – click here to download an A4 sheet with lots of Peely Wally chicks on! I stuck the chicks on thin card and cut them out before giving them to the kids, but you could print straight on to card if you like.
The kids were delighted with their chicks – boys and girls, 5 year olds and 7 year olds all loved making and then playing with their chicks!
I can’t wait to read them Kali Stileman’s forthcoming book all about Peely Wally’s chick, Polly Wally
Please feel free to use this as a model for the kids in your classes, families, extra curricula groups, local bookshops or libraries. Of course you don’t have to do any sort of craft, or you could come up with your own craft idea. I’ve other project suggestions for Peely Wally here, and for Scruffy Bear here.
If you do decide to run a voting session (even if with just one child) please let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear from others giving kids the vote!