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Now read on;National Year of Reading Update


This month's National Year of Reading theme is reading for information and the Internet. The NYR's own website, which was shortlisted for the Best Educational Website at the BETT awards, is a treasure trove of ideas with book reviews, competitions and quizzes and a writers' online area which gives you and your class the chance to interact with top poets and authors: this month Nina Bawden will be online. Its magazine, Read Me, runs features on topics including the rise of poetry, the importance of introducing books and reading to young children and drama. There are also discussion boards where teachers and others can exchange opinions and ideas. So far the site has had more than one million visitors. Log on to: TES INFORMATION AND SCHOOLBOOK AWARDS

The shortlists for the 1999 awards will be announced in The TES on March 5 with a full report on the winners in Friday magazine on March 12. More than 200 books have been entered for the information awards, the leading UK prize in children's non-fiction publishing. Topics range from the ancient world through philosophy, space travel and computers.

The judges for the primary award are Mary Jane Drummond, senior lecturer University of Cambridge School of Education; Paul Noble, head of St Andrew's primary, Swindon; and Michael Thorn, deputy head of Hawkes Farm primary, Hailsham. The secondary award judges are John Clare, head of history Greenfield comprehensive, Newton Aycliffe; Lynne Marjoram, head of science, Kidbrooke comprehensive, south-east London; and Mark Williamson adviser for humanities and RE, Hounslow, London.

The subject for the 1999 Schoolbook Award, sponsored by the Educational Publishers' Council, is music. The 32 entries include primary songbooks, curriculum courses and music from other times and cultures. The judges are Michael Burnett, senior lecturer in music, Roehampton Institute; Leonora Davies, inspector for music in Haringey, London; and Tom Deveson, advisory teacher for music for the London borough of Southwark.

Liz Attenborough, National Year of Reading director, will present the awards at Times House on March 17 STORYTELLING COMPETITION

Designed to encourage children to bring fiction to life through storytelling SpeakEasy '99, a competition for Years 7-9, asks entrants to submit a two-minute reading from six popular, books including Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian; Age Ain't Nothing But a Number by Yinka Adebeyo and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Regional finals over the Easter holidays will be followed by the national final in July. Organisers emphasise that the competition is about real accents and enthusiasm rather than perfect diction. The closing date for entries is February 28. For further information call Justin Hopkins on tel: 0707 467 4337.


The Beatrix Potter Society has organised readings from her Little Books to children in local libraries. Volunteer readers will use a visual aids pack with display material and an enlarged edition of The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. For details contact Carole Crosby, 21 Christchurch Road, Purley, Surrey CR8 2BZ. Tel: 0181 668 7228.


Most people associate Dickens with London, but in fact he was born in Portsmouth. To celebrate this, Portsmouth grammar school in partnership with Macmillan Publishers, Portsmouth City Council and the Dickens Fellowship has organised an inaugural Dickens Birthday Lecture at the school on February 6. The speaker is Professor John Carey, Oxford University professor of English, and the subject will be "Murder and Dickens". Information from: The Portsmouth grammar school, High Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire P01 2LN; tel: 01705 819125.


Volunteer Reading Help, a charity which links people from the local community with young children whom teachers feel would benefit from one-to-one help with their reading, has relaunched its guide to sharing the pleasures of reading. My Best Book, a collection of book reviews by young children, also contains tips for making shared reading sessions more pleasurable and effective. It can be obtained from Volunteer Reading Help, Bridge Centre, Sutherland Street, London SW1V 4LH. Tel: 0171 834 6918. A minimum donation to Volunteer Reading Help, London of pound;2 a copy.

* The National Year of Reading

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