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The Magic of Librarians – Anna James

This week we are pleased to welcome author Anna James to the blog to celebrate the paperback release of the final book in the Pages & Co series – The Last Bookwanderer. Anna tells us about how the magic of being a school librarian has stayed with her even after changing career, and how her library experience has influenced the Pages & Co book series…
Anna James the magic of librarians

Anna James the magic of librarians

Anna JamesGuest Post: Anna James

Author of Pages & Co

The Magic of Librarians

I think that once you are a librarian, you are always – in some way – a librarian. It doesn’t really leave you. I was a librarian in a secondary school and sixth form in the Midlands for nearly five years before I moved to London and started working at The Bookseller magazine (and was then a literary scout in between that and writing the first Pages & Co book). It was my first job after a graduate trainee year in Warwickshire Archives and it had a profound impact on me as a person but especially as a future writer for children.

All sorts of things have lingered – a necessary lack of snobbery around what makes readers, knowing the reality of budgets and access to books and authors in state schools, the opportunities and challenges that working with real children in real communities with real personalities brings, and ultimately of seeing the impact that the right book at the right time has.

The Magic of Recommending a Book

I’ll never forget finally convincing a Year 11 student to try a book, after five years of her having IT lessons in the library and chatting to me afterwards. At the start of Year 11, asking about my summer and hearing about my trip to Edinburgh book festival she realised I truly did love books, I wasn’t just paid to tell her to read. She told me I could choose one book for her and she’d give it a go. I gave her Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter and she burst into the library after the weekend, slammed the book down on the desk and told me she needed another one.

The Magic of Bookwandering

Nothing quite compares to those moments. I think it’s a big reason why Pages & Co is so rooted in bookshops in libraries and other people’s books. The series is about bookwandering which means people can travel inside books and they are all real (out of copyright) books – and fables and poems and plays. I get to keep recommending books even from within my own. And whenever a child tells me they tried Anne of Green Gables or The Railway Children because of my books and that they loved them, I get to experience a little bit of that librarian joy again.

The Magic Community of Secret Librarians

Most children’s authors are secretly librarians too because it is such a supportive community and we are all always recommending each other. Hand-selling each other’s books in bookshops, matching children to books they might like when they chat with us in schools and at festivals. And of course, all of this is backed up by brilliant actual librarians, as well as booksellers and teachers, who do so much work to get books into the hands of young readers.

Once a Librarian, Always a Librarian

I’m so grateful for the time I spent as a children’s librarian. For one thing, it made doing school visits slightly less nerve-wracking (I’ve done Year 10 assemblies, which I think might be the scariest one). But mainly it reminds me, every day, of the importance of a diverse range of books written with care being available to young readers and the magic of schools, bookshops and libraries in being the caretakers of those spaces.




Thank you to Anna for visiting our blog this week.

The final book in the Pages & Co series, The Last Bookwanderer, is out this month in paperback and can be found on Amazon or Bookshop.

For more books for Key Stage 2,  you might also like our Junior KS2 Recommended Reads list or Year Group booklists. To discover more classic children’s book characters, check out out recommended list of classic children’s books.

Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

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