Posted by Christopher at 9.28pm
Thirty years ago, at the age of nine, I won a prize from my local library service in Manchester for reading the most books over the long summer holiday. I can't remember what my prize was now, but I suspect it was probably a book token that I soon put to good use.
Fast forward to the 30th October 2013 and I am seated in the stunning Plaza Theatre in Stockport, the auditorium filled with school children, parents, teachers and librarians, all gathered together for the glitzy Stockport Schools' Book Awards Ceremony. I have been invited to this wonderful celebration of books and reading as Twelve Minutes to Midnight had been shortlisted in the Key Stage 2 category alongside fantastic books by Philip Reeve, Gill Lewis, Ruth Eastham and Elen Caldecott. Before each award was announced, the audience was shown wonderful presentations that school children had prepared for each of the shortlisted titles, combining animation, readings and readers' comments. These were fabulous and wouldn't have looked out of place at the Oscars!
I was absolutely thrilled when Twelve Minutes to Midnight was announced as the winner of the Stockport Schools' Book Award for Key Stage 2 and made sure not to trip over my laces in best Oscars fashion as I climbed the steps to the stage. There I was awarded with my prize, an incredible painting created by Molly-Mae Rafferty which was inspired by Twelve Minutes to Midnight. In my acceptance speech, I told the audience how this had been the first prize that I had won since that day thirteen miles and thirty years ago and how honoured I was to receive an award that had been voted for by the children themselves. I explained how filling myself up with stories when I was young had turned me into a writer, but that reading books could do so much more than this; how every book contained a spark that could set a reader's imagination ablaze and even transform their life.
I'd like to thank Stockport council, and especially the Stockport Schools Library Service for organising this wonderful event that allowed the young readers of Stockport to celebrate the pleasure of reading and books. I was proud to be part of such a special evening and have the chance to chat to so many fabulous librarians, teachers and young readers - the true reading champions.