Between the lines

14th October 2005 at 01:00
TES books editor Geraldine Brennan on the inside literary track

Book Aid International celebrated National Children's Book Week by sending 2,500 books to community libraries in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. As well as 16 primary and three secondary schools, there are adult literacy and teacher-training programmes for the 110,000 Somali residents. Most schools operate two teaching shifts a day and primary pupils such as Abdul (pictured) can be in classes of 70. Book Aid will have sent a quarter of a million books to schools and libraries in Africa by January. See:

Children's non-fiction - or "knowledge books" as some prefer - is still awaiting its Longitude: the book that will boost this area of publishing in the public imagination as well as induce empathy, wonder and passion for reading in children.

A day conference on "Adventures in the Real World" rounded off the Wordplay children's books festival in Swansea last weekend when consumers (teachers and librarians) met producers (authors and publishers). Most could agree on what a non-fiction children's book was ("You expect to learn something true"), but there was room for dialogue between teachers searching for books by subject and publishers who want their star authors to share top fiction writers' rewards.

Plans are afoot for a touring exhibition to introduce children to the many ways information books can present facts, and to those who produce them. To keep in touch, email about the ARW conference, sponsored by The TES, in my Bookmarks blog, via

Jules Verne's novel Around the World in Eighty Days is picking up passengers around the South-West, ready for the Great Reading Adventure in 2006. After three successful years in Bristol (the whole city is invited to read the same book between January and March), the GRA has been linked with next year's Brunel 200 celebrations: Verne sailed on Isambard Kingdom Brunel's ship, The Great Eastern, and wrote about it in The Floating City.

Adult and children's editions of Around the World in Eighty Days will be distributed free through 17 library authorities in time for January. A website,, will be launched in December. See for other bicentenary activities, including a short-story competition and Bristol Writes workshops.

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