Save Barnet Libraries

April 13, 2015  |  Caroline Green  |  2 Comments

I recently took part in a march against library closures in Barnet. The local council has proposed three possible options in a bid to save £2.85 million; all would mean a vastly reduced library service in the borough, and possible closures of a service that is a lifeline to many people.The march started at Hendon Central Library and ended at Childs Hill, via Golders Green.

This is an important issue that affects the whole community and I urge you to sign this petition against it. Below is a transcript of the speech I made outside Golder’s  Green Library.

Me on libraries march

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘When I was growing up, we had a huge, mouldering box of Enid Blyton books at home. They had been through both my older siblings’ hands before they got to mine. Apart from the occasional title from the Puffin club, that was it. I simply didn’t have access to a lot of different books.

 And that’s where my local library came in. It was the gateway to a passion for reading that has stayed with me all my life. It was that passion for books that prompted me to start making up my own stories as a young girl and it’s that same passion which directly led to me becoming a published writer today.

 I can still remember how it felt, as a teenager, reading the Ray Bradbury book Fahrenheit 451 in the library and experiencing an almost electrical charge from those pages. This book was like nothing else I’d ever come across and it made me realise that fiction and stories could do a lot more than just entertain us and pass the time. They can show us how to be civilised, how to have empathy with others, how to be better citizens, parents ,friends. They can show us how to find our own place in a confusing world.

 Farenheit 451 is about a futuristic society in which books are banned…

 Well…I’m not going to go so far as to suggest that the current government is QUITE that bad! But in a time when  over 10% of UK libraries are under threat – and at one point the Tories were closing libraries at a rate of two a week – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about how much of a priority reading is to the current regime.

 The truth is that libraries are a lifeline for many families. They provide a wealth of books that many children simply can not get at home.

 And a love of reading isn’t just some arty farty goal that doesn’t mean anything much in the long run.

 According to the OECD ‘Enjoyment of reading has a greater impact on a child’s educational achievement than their parents’ socio-economic status.’

 Here are some further facts and figures

    • Four million children in the UK do not have a book at home
    • One in six children does not read a book in a month
    • The National Literacy Trust surveyed 17,000 children and young people. It found that a child who visits a library is twice as likely to be a fluent reader as one who does not
    • UK GDP in 2025 could be £32bn higher if action had been taken to ensure all children were reading well by the age of 11.

 But libraries are not just important for those reasons. They are an essential part of a community. Some elderly people go to read the newspapers and it’s the only time in their day when they will mix with others.

 Many families don’t have the quiet space for children to do homework and study for exams.

 They are a place where mums and dads can take their toddlers for story and song times, or just to have a quiet cuddle and a read of the picture books.

 They are at the heart of every community.

 I asked other writers about their feelings on libraries and here are some of the things they said:

‘ My local library was what made me a reader, then a writer. A decade later its adult stock taught me to enjoy reading again. I think without it, I would not have survived that time’. AMANDA CRAIG

‘My local library was a haven to me, a respite from the real world, opening doors into other universes, portals into time travel. It was vital, to a child from a working class family.’ ROWAN COLEMAN

‘ I grew up in a home with very little spare money so my library was a lifeline: I wouldn’t have been able to read as much without it –   so would likely never have done well enough to go to university’. TRACEY SINCLAIR.

‘ I grew up on quite a rough estate in Belfast where the local library was my haven. My parents couldn’t have provided all the books I wanted to read. I wouldn’t have been a reader to anything like the same extent without the public library. And I don’t think I’d have become a writer either’. SHEENA WILKINSON

‘My library was my escape from bullying and lonely misery when I was a child and then teenager. If I had not had my local library and librarians who cared to help this bright working class child, I am sure I would have not have escaped that background and been able to follow my dreams of writing’. DANUTA KEAN

 The words ‘haven’ and ‘sanctuary’ came up time and time again when I asked this question.

If libraries in Barnet are closed down, or only open on certain days, run by a skeleton staff, where do those people go? Where does the child who has nothing left to read go, or the student who needs a quiet place to study? What about the elderly person who hasn’t had any other social contact in 24 hours, or the young mum who needs a way to entertain a bored toddler without paying an arm and a leg to do so?

Libraries are not just places where you can borrow books. They are the heart of communities and for some, they are a haven and a sanctuary. 

That’s why we have to fight back against these cuts and save our Barnet Libraries from closure. Thank you for listening.’

 

Here are details of two further marches:

– Saturday, April 25 11am: Chipping Barnet Library to Osidge via East Barnet

– Saturday, May 9 11am: South Friern to North Finchley via East Finchley

Planes, trains and automobiles..

February 26, 2015  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

Strictly speaking, this post only involves train journeys but I couldn’t resist a reference to one of my all-time favourite films. If you haven’t seen it, I order you to rush out and buy it on DVD immediately. (Done it yet??)

So I’ll be doing a fair bit of travelling in the next week. On Saturday 28th Feb I am thrilled to be part of the UKYA Extravaganza event at the central Birmingham Waterstones, when  I’ll be milling around with a host of brilliant bloggers and some of the most talented writers of UK YA out there, including Emma Haughton, Hilary Freeman, Keris Stainton, Rachel Ward, Eve Ainsworth, Emma Pass, Leila Rasheed, Bryony Pierce, Claire Furniss, CJ Daugherty, Susie Day and loads more. Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass are huge stars for organising this. Tickets sold out quickly but if you do have one and are coming along, I’m looking forward to meeting you!

For World Book Day I’m going to be travelling a bit further north to the same lovely school I visited last year, Wirral Grammar School for Boys, where I’m looking forward to meeting Year Eights and seeing fellow authors Bryony Pierce and Dan Smith again.

Yep, it’s going to be a busy one….

UKYA extravaganza

Mea culpa…

February 11, 2015  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

I’m feeling very guilty about how neglected my website has been lately, so I hereby make a (slightly late) new year’s resolution to DO BETTER!

I’ve had lots of exciting things going on lately.  You can read an interview here  that I did with the brilliant Bookaholic Confessions blog about the forthcoming UKYA day, which takes place on Saturday 28th February. Myself and a bunch of fantastic writers for young people are converging on the Birmingham Waterstones, to chat, meet readers and hopefully eat some cake.

Tonight though, I am very proud to be helping announce the winners of the Barnet Libraries Writing competition. I was one of three judges, along with writer Rebecca Morgan and Terence Chan from the youth library service. Boy, was this a hard competition to judge! I was blown away by some of the writing here and even the day before the deadline was trying to persuade the organisers to allow joint prizes! The quality on show here in terms of writing ability and imagination was extremely impressive.

Speaking of which, I hope any young readers of this who enjoy writing will take part in the BBC Radio 2’s 500 words competition. You’ve just got time to enter but hurry because there are only a couple of weeks left!

So that’s all my current news. Meanwhile, here’s a nice springy picture to get us through these dark February days.

 

Lamb pic

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Oldham Book Awards update

November 18, 2014  |  Caroline Green  |  2 Comments

I attended the Oldham Brilliant Book Awards last week and was absolutely gobsmacked to win the KS4 prize for Hold Your Breath! Here is my beautiful award. It was made by students at Butterworth Lane Primary School and mosaic artist Amanda McCrann. Each one features a word that plays a big role in the book in question and anyone who has read Hold Your Breath will understand the significance of ‘earring’! Huge congratulations to the other winners, who include the brilliant Liz Kessler, Rebecca Lisle, Berlie Doherty and Helen and Thomas Docherty. Had such a lovely time in Oldham. Actors from the Oldham Coliseum Theatre came along and acted out sections from all the shortlisted books and the whole morning was hugely enjoyable.

Thanks so much to the Oldham Library Service, especially Beverley Martin, who helped make it a very special day.

 

Oldham Award

Halloween workshop!

October 22, 2014  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

TheStoryroomOn Wednesday 29th October I shall be running a Halloween writing workshop in conjunction with the brilliant Story Room for years 6-9 in Winchmore Hill, north London.

All the details are here. Why not come along and learn how to write really spooky stories?

Oldham Brilliant Book Awards 2014

September 8, 2014  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

I’m so excited to hear that Hold Your Breath has been nominated for the Oldham Brilliant Book Award 2014!

I was lucky enough to attend last year’s ceremony with my book Cracks and I can honestly say that the whole experience was one of the highlights of my year. The Oldham library service work so hard to make the evening special for all the authors attending and for the students who have taken part in the voting process. I can’t wait to be a part of this again and look forward to meeting the other nominees.

Here’s a taster of last year’s wonderful evening. (Thanks to Bookwitch for the image).

Oldham awards night

Exciting new roles after the holidays

July 23, 2014  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

It’s going to be great to have a summer break but I’m already looking forward to some new positions I’ll be taking up in September.

In addition to my position as Writer in Residence at East Barnet School, I am also going to be taking on the role of Writer in Residence at Kelmscott School in Walthamstow, where I will be working with students on a school magazine. I will also be the new Patron of Reading at the Business Academy Bexley.

Looking forward to working with all these schools!

If you are a teacher and like to discuss a possible visit, please feel free to get in touch: carolinegreenwriter@gmail.com

Beaconlit Festival

June 26, 2014  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

I’m very excited to be appearing at the Beaconlit Festival of Books and Writing on Saturday 27th June, which is the first festival to be held in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Chilterns.

There is a full day of events, with a range of great authors and I will be appearing on a panel dedicated to Young Adult fiction with brilliant fellow writers Hilary Freeman, author of The Boy from France, Loving Danny and Lifted and Teri Terry, the multi-award winning author of Slated, Fractured and Shattered.

A full-day adult ticket is only £13.50, with concession tickets at £6.

 

More information can be found here:

http://www.beaconlit.co.uk/Programmeandauthors.php

 

 

 

Who would you haunt for a day?

May 28, 2014  |  Caroline Green  |  No Comments

Author Tamsyn Murray has invited me to her blog today for a guest post. Her brilliant book My So-Called Afterlife has been re-released with a great new look and you can read the first chapter here.

So Tamsyn asked me to think about who I would haunt for a day if I had the opportunity. It took me about five seconds to make a decision…

Head on over to Tamsyn’s blog to see who I chose!

 

Tamsyn Book