Cogan Diversity Picture Book Award 2019. Part Three

Published Tue 2 Apr 2019 - By Ruth Morgan

Ruth Morgan, Additional Learning Needs Coordinator, Cogan Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan recently set up an award to address the lack of equal representation in children’s picture books, and how to address that. In this blog post, she takes us through the shortlisted titles, and the positive effect that the Cogan Diversity Picture Book Award is encouraging in the children.


Cogan Diversity Picture Book Award – part 3


This week, we announced the shortlist of our Diversity Picture Book Award at Cogan Primary School.  We have spent most of this spring term reading, rating and reviewing the longlist books but now the children’s votes have been counted, we have arrived at a shortlist of seven, the ones that achieved consistently great scores across the different classes. Here they are in no particular order:


Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival pub. Bloomsbury is a beautifully and skilfully illustrated representation of a girl whose worry gets too big to manage and how much better she feels for sharing it.  Our children love the story for its own sake and also appreciate the message.  We think it’s a very healthy book to keep in the class book corner and for use in PSE and wellbeing themed work.


Jasper’s Story by Nandita Jain and Andy Glynne pub. Franklin Watts is about Jasper, who has cystic fibrosis and describes what he has to do each day in order to live well.  Our children have been fascinated to find out about a condition they had never heard of, explained in a way that is personalised and accessible. It has led to thoughtful discussion about different disabilities.


The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie pub. Little Tiger is a really uplifting story about the power of friendship. We find out about four girls’ journeys into adulthood and how their friendship provides an emotional touchstone through good times and bad.  Our children have loved reflecting upon what happens to the individual girls as they grow. It’s worth saying, the book is also a favourite amongst many of our boys.


Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen pub. Penguin is an adventure story with a lovely balance and structure and several laugh-out-loud moments.  Our children have responded with enthusiasm to the predicament Billy and her friends find themselves in and her bravery and resourcefulness in getting them out of trouble.  Fatcat is a star and the children love him to bits.


Basil and Sage by Nick Rolfe pub. Your Stories Matter is a heartwarming story about a single parent family and how the Dad does all the jobs which might traditionally have been performed by the mum, emphasising the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes.  It is one of the ‘Rainbow Street’ collection which introduces the idea of different kinds of families in a way that we think is very appropriate for younger children.


Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers pub. Andersen Press is a gorgeous book which works on several different levels at the same time. Luna loves spending time at the library with her Dad, who doesn’t live at home with her any more, and the clever book-within-a-book they choose to read holds a deep meaning for them both. The children are also engaged by the ‘checking out’ refrain. A really rich text, worthy of study by any student of any age.


Woolf by Alex Latimer and Patrick Latimer pub. Pavilion Children’s Books is a really fresh ‘fable’ with a great energy, telling the tale of how a wolf and a sheep fall in love and how their offspring – Woolf – has to try and work out where he fits into society.  Our children love the story, which has a very satisfying shape to it, and they also empathise with how the main character feels at different points.


Taking part in this award has benefited our children in so many ways. Lots and lots of ‘purposeful reading for pleasure’ has been going on. The amount of enthusiastic ‘book talk’ has increased, including a readiness to compare preferences. There has been an increase in opportunities for self-selection. The question we have encouraged the children to ask themselves when rating and reviewing is: What made me want to read this book? I think schools often don’t have enough time to talk to children about their reading tastes but discovering books they love to read can lead to a real leap in reading progress.


As the award has continued to be publicised on twitter, it has also demonstrated to our children responsible and polite interactions on social media. In terms of pupil voice, they have witnessed how their voices have impact far beyond our school, with many authors, illustrators and publishers sending them messages of appreciation and encouragement. Imagine being a nine year old finding out that your review of ‘We’re All Wonders’ has been liked by R. J. Palacio herself.


Straight after Easter, each child will receive a ballot paper upon which they can put one cross next to their favourite book.  The winner will be announced on twitter on 1st May and the award ceremony will be held at the school on 2nd July.


Ruth Morgan, Additional Learning Needs Coordinator, Cogan Primary School