This is the most eagerly anticipated and read post every year! The wonderful Helen Smith from Eckington School in Derbyshire produces a guide to Christmas TV every year, linking films to books. A great opportunity to promote reading! Helen provides this for free every year, and she allows free distribution. However, please ensure that you acknowledge her as the author of this guide. Also, Helen asks that if you enjoy this guide you consider donating to the page she has set up for the National Literacy Trust.
Librarian Jackie Brown from Thetford Academy is all set to get ahead of the queues by ensuring that her Christmas quiz is all ready and waiting. And she has been generous enough to share it with us so we can be ready too.
And for those all-important answers for you, download them here. Christmas Quiz-answers 2017-1v4a1cx
Thank you Jackie!
In one of those wonderful emails I sometimes get, author Cliff McNish contacted me with an amazing offer this week. He wondered if I would like to offer all of you his six writing guides – for free! These are the guides that are normally given to schools as a part of his author visit, but Cliff felt that in this time of shrinking budgets he would like to offer these out to everyone. Of course I said yes!
Cliff is the author of the chilling novel for teenagers Breathe, and the fantasy Doomspell trilogy, as well as books for younger children. You can see the books he has written, and learn more about his school visits on his website here.
The six guides are entitled The 4 Basic Stories, Five Easy Steps to Creating a Great Story, Creating great Heroes/Heroines in your stories, Creating Great Villains in Your Stories How to Write a Fantasy Story and How to Write a Ghost Story.
I hope that you find these really helpful to your school. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or go to his website to find out more.
Today a missive has been fired in the battle to try and halt the fast rate at which school libraries are closing. With school budgets increasingly squeezed, it is very often that school librarians find they are suffering. ‘Best’ case scenario is that the school library finds that it has no operating budget, and so pupils are left without access to the latest and best children’s books, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal books. Worst case, the library is closed, or they make the librarian redundant and let the ‘library’ stumble on as a room full of books. For of course, as we all know, a room full of books doesn’t become a library until and unless it has a skilled practitioner at the helm. And a budget!
Former school librarian, author, and past CILIP President Dawn Finch had had enough. After one particularly poignant tweet she decided to contact Nick Poole, the CEO of CILIP, and together they drafted a letter to Justine Greening. As Chair of CILIP’s School Libraries Group I was also contacted, and was very proud to be a signatory to the letter. At about five yesterday there were about 20 signatures. Just before he went into a meeting Nick Poole tweeted that he wondered if any more authors would like to join in and sign. When he turned his phone on after the meeting. Nick said ‘twitter had melted!‘ By the time the letter was published this morning, there were 150 signatures. But authors have continued to tweet their support, and so the list of those who support school libraries is growing. The Bookseller also wrote a great piece in support of the cause.
The letter has now been sent to Justine Greening, and you can read the full text of it here. There is so much more to add – as others have pointed out, we haven’t even touched on the role that librarians play in digital literacy yet, or in wellbeing. But first things first!
There is also a hashtag going around called #schoollibrariesmatter. Please tweet using this hashtag. Follow @NickPoole1 @dawnafinch and @CILIPSLG to retweet all the wonderful replies. Let’s give this legs!
Finally, for a piece of work connected to this, Nick Poole has asked me to collect data around the running costs of STATE school libraries. Please could you add your data to this Google Document. It is completely anonymous – all we want is Salary+budget and County. If more than one librarian included in that salary please indicate, and if zero budget please indicate too.
Thank you all!
As the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day was Freedom, Librarian Rita Halsey wrote to share the activity she set up in her school. She says: ‘We celebrated National Poetry Day on Thursday 28 September, with a lunchtime event in the Library. As the theme was Freedom we used kite templates for our budding poets’ compositions, enticing them in with a tasty selection of cakes, sweets and biscuits.’
Her Marketing Department tweeted about the event, and it generated a lot of interest – as it would, being such an unusual event! National Poetry Day twitter account was very enthusiastic, as you can see.
Twitter is such a good medium for reaching people – anything you want Heart to retweet, just copy me in on @HeartOTSchool and I will do so.
Librarian Rosie Pike from Bishop’s Stortford College wrote to me about the wonderful Summer Reading Challenge she ran. It attracted 25 entries from pupils between years 3 and 6. She writes:
‘It was based on We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and there were 8 different challenges to complete. Photos of the work have been displayed in the library since the beginning of the term.Photo diaries of travelling bears have seen them captured in places as far afield as the top of Ben Nevis, theatre shows in London, Lanzarote, and an unknown journey which looks remarkably like being back at school! Equally impressive are the many different versions of the Michael Rosen poem, which see them going on a ghost hunt, a person hunt or a hare hunt. All of the pupils were awarded a certificate and prize.’
The School Library Association’s most prestigious Award, honouring the best school librarian that year, from a very highly qualified shortlist, is Lucas Maxwell from Glenthorn Hight School in Sutton.
There is a sense of fun in Lucas’s library. From timed Lego competitions to interactive and engaging library lessons. Lucas adds a playfulness and light touch to the library that the students overwhelmingly respond to. The contribution that the library makes to the school is felt well outside of its walls. Staff speak glowingly of how Lucas has enriched their teaching and enthused the whole school about reading for pleasure. Tricia Adams, Director of the SLA, said: ‘‘Lucas is a worthy winner and shows that school libraries are successful champions of both books and technology. His library is obviously fun to be in and his ‘Poem in my Pocket’ initiative and ‘Open Mic’ nights make the library a much-loved centre in his school”
The two other school librarians on the Honour List are: Mairéad Duggan – Mount Carmel Secondary School, Dublin and Shelagh Toonen – Elgin Academy, Moray All bring a passion and enthusiasm to their work that is thoroughly deserving of recognition by this award. To read the profiles of all the librarians on the Honour List visit the SLA website at: www.sla.org.uk The work of all the librarians on the Honour List, including the overall winner of School Librarian of the Year 2017, was celebrated at a ceremony held on Monday 9th October 2017 at The Hive, Worcester.
As told by librarian Annabel Jeffery:
‘On Tuesday October 3rd we were absolutely delighted to be chosen to host an author event with none other than Clare Balding. Pupils from all three foundation schools were present, along with children from three local primary schools. With so many young pupils queueing for signing and needing to be organised, we could not have done without the help of a group of U6 who enjoyed a rather different key Skills session to the Research Skills that was timetabled! They were all fantastic on the day.
From the moment she arrived -to be greeted by a very excited and delightful U6 Reception Committee – to the moment she left after entertaining 500 children and staff in College Hall and signing 100s of books, she created a buzz wherever she went. (Even in the cathedral cloisters where lucky visitors may have noticed her whilst passing by her as she ate her lunch and chatted to Sixth formers.)
Clare’s talk was full of enjoyable anecdotes about her childhood spent surrounded by animals, many of which taught her valuable life lessons (as well as being the inspiration for her new children’s books about racehorses), such as the importance of belief in yourself, doing what you enjoy, trying everything without fear of failure and not worrying about being different. But the highlight was the way in which she engaged and interacted with the children.
College Hall will never see the likes again of Clare Balding cavorting with great drama and commitment on stage, to re-enact great sporting moments of recent times with the help of King’s St Albans children who were brilliant. Firstly she re-staged the final of the triathlon world series in September 2016 when Jonny (played by Henry Hawes of KSA) was helped over the line by his brother Alistair, thus illustrating the power of selflessness in sport. Fen Harper and Martha Burden from St Albans (by chance in their hockey kit) then had the chance to act as the favoured Dutch hockey players in the Rio Olympic final, taking on Clare as Maddie Hinchliffe. Despite their skill, Clare (as Maddie) proved that belief and preparation can help you to win against the odds.
She was also very brave in inviting up on stage young writers of the future from each school to interview them about their ideas for a story. I don’t think she was expecting to have the kind of complex synopsis such as that given by Amalie Prewer-Jenkinson!
The line of pupils queueing patiently with books seemed to be endless, but Clare waited until the last book had been signed and the last pupil hoping for a selfie (each one granted) had turned up. She was even happy to give Miss Jeffery’s spaniel a birthday hug!
Clare Balding was a passionate and inspirational speaker, who will have left many of us with unforgettable memories of the day that she came to King’s.’
It cannot have escaped your notice, if you are in the UK, that there is a lot of fuss about this year’s World Book day £1 book offering. The problem centres around the fact that four of the books are by celebrities and one is a Marvel Comic. Librarians and authors have been incensed by this, pointing out that in the past these WBD books have been successfully promoted as tasters, and children have gone on to read and love the authors represented – authors such as Malorie Blackman, Cressida Cowell, Robert Muchamore, David Almond to name but a few. This article from the Guardian sums up the situation perfectly. I know my Facebook feed and Twitter feed have been full in the last couple of days of people really angry about the fact that WBD isn’t about encouraging children to read books by excellent children’s authors, but seems to have fallen prey to the cult of celebrity instead.
This isn’t a new thought. There have been questions about Zoella’s book club before, with opinion divided on what her choosing criteria are. But this is different. First World Book Day is turned into Dressing up Day – mostly by primaries and often nothing to do with books – and now there are fears that World Book Day is becoming just another outlet for already overexposed celebrities.
What do you think? Do you think it is harmless, that children should just read? or do you support the authors who feel that their talent is being degraded by celebrities writing children’s books because, after all, how hard can it be? Very hard – judging by the Carnegie and Greenaway Award Winners!
Join in the debate!