The Salford Children’s Book Award has celebrated its milestone 21st anniversary with a bumper event attended by 11 local schools.

Leading authors, the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, Tanya Burch and key partners of the Salford Schools’ Library Service attended the event.

The awards, hosted by award-winning author and comedian, James Campbell encourages older children to read a wide variety of books and authors to show that reading is fun and essential for literacy development.

This year there were six outstanding books shortlisted and all authors were at the event, which was held at the University of Salford’s New Adelphi Theatre.

Around 160 school children attended and met their literary icons, did presentations about their favourite books in front of a packed audience, and listened to the authors talking about their creative writing processes, inspirations and literary journeys

In addition to buying books, all children attending the ceremony this year were able to take home a free book, signed by one of the authors, thanks to the generous support of the Bupa Foundation.

The new Salford high school, Salford Star Academy in Little Hulton attended the event for the first time alongside Award veterans St Patrick’s, whose librarian Linda Parker has participated in the scheme for 21 years. To thank Linda for her dedication, pupils from St Patrick’s performed a bonus presentation about what the Salford Children’s Book Award means to their school.

The winner of the award was When I See Blue by Lily Bailey. Lily Bailey said: “I am delighted to win this award. I wrote When I See Blue as the book I wish I’d had as a young person growing up to make me feel seen. When I was younger this is the sort of event I would have gone to, so it is amazing for me to attend and be on the other side as an author.

“I have huge respect for the pupils who came on stage today talking about their favourite books in front of authors, adults and peers.”

Hannah Quinlan, Head of Libraries at Salford Community Leisure, said: “The Salford Schools’ Library Service has worked tirelessly for 21 years on this wonderful event, encouraging pupils in local schools to love reading.

“We thank this year’s supporters including the Bupa Foundation, which has provided free books for every pupil, Salford University for providing the venue and event support plus Aspen Corporate and the Copthorne Hotel.”

Author, host and comedian, James Campbell, said: “It’s such a privilege to return to Salford. It has become one of my favourite places. I love the enthusiasm of the children and the care and devotion they put into their presentations.”

Salford has played a pivotal role in public literature having set up the world’s first free public library in 1850.

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