Futures Fund support sends Helen to Bologna

Helen Limon Pic 1

Helen Limon Pic 2

The Futures Fund Student Opportunity Scholarship, enabled University of Sunderland PGCE student Dr Helen Limon, financial support to enable her to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2019.

The financial assistance that Helen received from the scholarship went towards travel and accommodation supporting Helen’s attendance at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Helen was invited to join the jury for the 2019 selection of outstanding ‘Silent Books’ (picture books for adults and children with a complex narrative but no words). Being a member of the jury gave Helen an opportunity to enrich her student experience, through international networking opportunities, exploring the latest advancements in children’s literature and enabling Helen to present her experience back to her PGCE PCET cohort about the experience, upon her return.

Arriving in Bologna Helen recalls first glimpse of the Children’s Book Fair, ‘The fair is a hugely visual event as it celebrates illustrated children’s picture titles above all other books. Switzerland is guest of honour this year and all the fair branding reflects the country’s visual culture. My first job, which stared on Tuesday afternoon, was to meet with the rest of the IBBY (International Board for Books) Europe, jury panel and work through the shortlist of titles submitted by publishers from all over the world. We were each given ten post-it notes to distribute across the fifty long-listed books. It took three hours but without much disagreement we were able to agree on the top ten honour titles.’

‘The presentation of the honour titles takes place at the Authors Cafe stage and had a capacity audience. Silent books have become a very significant new genre in recent years and the permanent exhibition in Rome and Lampedusa library are well-known both inside and outside Italy. A translator has been hired which shows the importance of this event to an international audience. I speak about working with silent books and how it informs my teaching and teacher training with Sunderland University.’

Helen was also invited to speak on a panel about sex education titles and although she admits that the genre is not her area of expertise, she was able to discuss the topic with librarians at her PGCE placement school prior to speaking in Bologna which enabled Helen to feel prepared. Helen also had the opportunity to meet with an ex-student of hers and fellow North East writer, who’s book was being promoted at the fair. Helen says, ‘I’m hugely proud of her success and having my name in the acknowledgements of her first book is very pleasing for a teacher’.

Reflecting back on the experience Helens says, ‘It’s been a very exciting experience and immensely productive in terms of work and international networking. I am very grateful to the Alumni Association for helping to make this possible for me to do and if my book is a success, I hope to be able to help another student to benefit in the future.’

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