Patrick Ness, Carnegie 2011 winner, ‘We need to shout even louder for the young readers’

Every year CILIP presents the Carnegie Medal to the writer of an outstanding children’s book. Earlier this month it was awarded to Patrick Ness for “Monsters of Men”, the final book in his Chaos Walking trilogy.

In his acceptance speech he talked about how libraries impacted on his life as he grew up; how they continue to have a positive impact on children today; and he voiced his concerns about the Government’s attitude towards libraries, particularly in relation to the current round of cuts and closures.

Here are some of the highlights from his speech.

I was a hugely unchaperoned reader, and I would wander into my local public library and there sat the world, waiting for me to look at it, to find out about it, to discover who I might be inside it.”

“I owe most of the breadth of my reading to libraries, and particularly to librarians who seemed to know exactly when to recommend and when to look the other way when an eager young reader possibly over-reached.”

“There’s so much proscription in the life of young people, and it’s so vital to have a place that says, look, here are the doors onto the world and amazingly, you’re free to choose any one you like.”

“Knowledge and information – and by which I do very much include the internet – is a forest.  And true, sometimes it’s fun getting lost, sometimes that’s how you learn some surprising things.  But how much more can you discover when someone can point you in the right direction, when someone can maybe give you a map.  When someone can maybe even give you a treasure map, to places you may not have even thought you were allowed to go.  This is what librarians do.”

“We need to shout even louder for the young readers that are threatened by a government which tries to pretend that cutting libraries means they’re not actually cutting libraries, which tries to win votes by claiming that the fact that children should read more books is somehow going to be solved by giving them drastically fewer places to do so.” 

“Now, I do know that ultimately this is only a book award, but for me it’s more than that.  It’s a celebration of all those brilliant young people who – in the face of everything – still find joy in a book.  Still find the world waiting for them in a book.  Still see possible futures and lives and loves and opportunities and hopes and dreams in a book.”

If you’d like to find out more about Patrick Ness and his books his website can be found here.