Just after the spring break, a group of children from 4th and 5th class put on their critics hats and took part in the CBI Book Awards shadowing scheme.  This annual scheme encourages children to read and evaluate the shortlisted books with a view to voting for the best children’s book of the year.  All of the books shortlisted must have some connection to Ireland, e.g. publisher, author or illustrator.


A total of 10 books were shortlisted by Children’s Books Ireland with only 4 of the list being suitable for the age group reviewing.  The four books were Shh! We have a plan by Chris Houghton, Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers, Beyond the Stars edited by Sarah Webb and Haiku Más é thoil é! by Gabriel Rosenstock.


The 16 children set to work reading the books and the group met at lunch time to discuss and critique each book in detail.  The children showed great interest in reading critically and expressed their likes or dislikes about each book.  The group took the opportunity to read the 2 picture books to the junior infants’ class for some more feedback.  This was thoroughly enjoyed by both groups and gave the judging panel even more to think about when trying to decide which book to vote for!


Finally voting day came around on the 14th May.  Each vote was cast privately and the children rated the books from 1st to 3rd favourite.  After the votes were cast and counted the overall winner was clear – Once Upon an Alphabet won by a landslide.  Shh! We have a plan came a close second, with Beyond the Stars and Haiku, Más é Thoil é coming 3rd and 4th.  The panels vote was then submitted to the CBI and we waited to see if the other judges had agreed with the RETNS judging panel.


On 19th May the final results were announced.  Oliver Jeffers won both the Book of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice award for his picture book Once Upon an Alphabet.  The children involved were delighted to see that their favourite had won not one but 2 prizes!


Some comments from the judging panel:


I got to read interesting books that otherwise I wouldn’t have read them-AMAZING!


It was fun felt like a real judge.


I enjoyed being able to have my own say in a competition between some great books.


You really got to express your opinion.


I enjoyed judging the books because now my vote is part of the CBI book of the year!


I really enjoyed reading the picture books which I wouldn’t have chosen if I wasn’t taking part.


Before I thought picture books were just for little children but then I realised that older people can enjoy them.



Report by Sarah Lacey