The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded annually by children’s librarians for the year’s most outstanding book for young people. Established in 1935, when it was awarded to Arthur Ransome for Swallow and Amazons, it is the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book award. Many authors refer to it as “the one I want to win”.
Every spring, up to 16 lower school boys choose to shadow the Carnegie judging process by reading, discussing, reviewing and voting on the eight titles shortlisted for the award.
Shadowers at Abingdon come together with shadowers from five other Abingdon schools to discuss the shortlist, promote their favourite book and ultimately decide the winning title.
Shadowing begins in mid-March, immediately after the announcement of the books shortlisted for the Carnegie award. Students read the shortlisted books during the same period as the national judges, meet regularly to discuss and evaluate the titles using the national judging criteria, and writing reviews to be posted on the Carnegie website.
Shadowing culminates in the Abingdon Forum, where more than 100 students work in groups to create dramatic promotions that are then performed in front of judges with backgrounds in publishing, bookselling and writing.
By shadowing the Carnegie, students broaden their reading, challenge their preconceptions of what makes a ‘good read’, and sharpen their critical skills and debating ability. Apart from all that, they have great fun.