Amnesty CILIP Honour: Inaugural winners announced

ALCS sponsors the first ever children's book award to celebrate human rights

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the UK’s oldest awards for children’s literature, being 79 and 60 years old respectively.This year, they were joined by a new third award: the Amnesty CILIP Honour, sponsored by ALCS, and the result of a major partnership between the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and Amnesty International, the global human rights organisation. The Honour, the first ever children’s book award to celebrate human rights, will be awarded annually to two books – one from the CILIP Carnegie shortlist, one from the CILIP Kate Greenaway shortlist – which in the opinion of the judges, most distinctively illuminate, uphold, or celebrate freedoms.

The first Amnesty CILIP Honours were judged by a panel that included the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal winner, Tanya Landman.From the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist, the Honour went to Robin Talley for Lies We Tell Ourselves (published by Mira Ink) which the judges called “an exciting page-turner of a book which vividly brings to life the human cost of prejudice and explores an historic battle for equal access to education”.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is set in the USA in 1959 as the battle for civil rights rages, and opens as Sarah – one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High – has her first day at school. No-one wants her there, especially not fellow student Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. But the more time the two girls spend together, the less their differences seem to matter. And soon they start to feel something they’ve never felt before, something they are determined to ignore. Because it’s one thing to stand up to an unjust world, but another to be terrified of what’s in your own heart.

The Amnesty CILIP Honour for the CILIP Kate Greenaway shortlist went to illustrator Ross Collins for picture book, There’s a Bear on My Chair. The judges said it was a book “packed full of joyous humour: it develops children’s empathy and shows how we can protest creatively and peacefully when something is wrong”.

There’s a Bear on My Chair features an unfortunate Mouse whose favourite chair has been settled on by Bear. Mouse tries all kinds of tactics to move the pesky Bear, but nothing works and poor Mouse gives up. Once Mouse has eventually gone, Bear gets up and walks home. But what’s that? Is that a Mouse in Bear’s house?!

Nicky Parker, chair of the Amnesty CILIP Honour judges commented: “The best books are more than plot and character, they give children the empathy and confidence to stand up and shape their world for the better – which children need today more than ever. Thinking about how to persuade a bullying bear to get off your chair can teach children about peaceful protest, while a novel about forbidden first lesbian love set against the furious resistance to black integration into schools in racist, homophobic 1950s America is still horribly relevant today”.

Tanya Landman commented: There’s a Bear on My Chair is a delightfully funny but very useful book for talking to children about human rights, while “Lies We Tell Ourselves” brilliantly portrays the fight for the right to an education, and the human cost of asserting that right”.

ALCS and the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway shadowing scheme

ALCS is also a long-time supporter of the hugely successful CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals shadowing scheme, and each year sponsors a creative writing competition to encourage children to produce an original piece of writing. Sejal Guatam of Kendrick School in Reading was this year’s winner for her fabulous piece entitled Good bye. She is pictured below with CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway winners Sarah Crossan and Chris Riddell. Read Sejal’s winning story here.