Bear Hunt Summer Reading Challenge

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 day Claire Balding came to King’s, 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.’

 

 

Celebrity authors and World Book Day books

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!

Roald Dahl inspires WBD fun in Fulneck School in Leeds

To celebrate World Book Day, we decided to hold a Roald Dahl inspired event for our year 8 and 9 students. Beforehand, students were handed golden tickets to get them through Willy Wonka’s factory gates. Once inside, they were put into teams for the afternoon. Each group worked their way around the different themed stations, the Dirty Beasts live animals proved to be a hit with the students! Other stations included Willy Wonka’s Bean Boozled Beans, BFG’s Dream Jar Creation Station, George’s Slime making, Willy Wonka’s Blind Chocolate Tasting, BFG Breakout puzzle and the Roald Dahl Quiz. There was a real buzz about the afternoon, student feedback included:

‘I mostly enjoyed petting the animals. I especially enjoyed handling the bearded dragon’

‘I really enjoyed the dream jars and the animals. It was really fun to pet animals that you don’t normally see!’

‘The animal corner was my favourite; I especially enjoyed holding the snake. The jars were also very fun, however messy!’

‘My favourite parts were holding Monty the Snake and the puzzle station.’

 

Southwark Book Award 2017

 

 

Top to Bottom: Alex Wheatle, MG Leonard, Taran Matharu

On Thursday March 9th 2017, selected children from several different schools around Southwark packed into Canada Water Library to find out the results of the Southwark Book Award 2017. The Award had been relaunched this year, with six shortlisted books published during the school year 2015/2016, and voting was open to children in Years 7 & 8.

Three of the shortlisted authors – Taran Matharu (The Novice)  M.G.Leonard (Beetle Boy) and Alex Wheatle (Crongton Knights) were present at the ceremony, which caused an extra frisson of excitement amongst the children present. The three other shortlisted books were The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.

The pupils had already voted for their favourite book online, but once at Canada Water Library they were split into groups to discuss and rank each book in terms of its style, characterisation, plot, setting and theme. Later, they were treated to a short talk from each of the authors present.

The highlight of the morning was the presentation of the Award. Jo Mead, Learning Resources Manager at Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich, first announced the results of the morning’s discussion – which saw the honours for the different elements of the books fairly equally divided between the six titles. The overall winner of the Southwark Book Award 2017 however, was Andrew Norriss, for his book Jessica’s Ghost. Sadly, the author was unable to be with us on Thursday, but he sent a video in which he professed himself “absolutely delighted” and thanked all the students for their votes.

Before leaving to return to their respective schools, the students swarmed the authors present with requests for books, posters and bookmarks to be signed – a sure sign that a love of reading is alive and well in Southwark!

The Southwark Book Award is organised by the Southwark Education Librarians’ Forum, and we’re looking forward to making it even bigger and better next year. Southwark schools who would like to take part in future awards should contact Jo Mead (J.Mead@harrisdulwichboys.org.uk) to join our mailing list.

 

 

 

 

How School Librarians engage with parents

A little while ago, before Christmas 2016, I was asked by MicroLibrarian systems to give a short talk on how Librarians engage with parents in their schools.  I delivered this talk at the BETT show in January 2017.  I had put the enquiry out on my Twitter, Facebook and mailing list networks, so that the topic was crowdsourced and covered lots of exciting ways to engage with parents, for both senior and junior schools.  There are lots of good ideas there which I intend to adopt in my school – hope you find something of interest as well.

UKEd nomination for best Educational blog!

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I am proud to announce that Heart of the School has been nominated as one of the best Educational Blogs in 2016!  This is in UKEd Magazine, and the blog is featured alongside teacher’s blogs.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed stories to Heart – all your hard work has been acknowledged!  Please do keep your contributions coming in – everything from lessons you teach on information literacy to displays you put up.  It is really important to show the breadth of things that school librarians do – we don’t just stamp books, we have a vital role to play in educating children.  If you wish to read the UKEd magazine with the nomination in, then you can download it from here.  Thank you everyone – and keep it coming!  We passionately want to show that school librarians make a difference to every school!

Library lessons – designing a Library

 

School Librarian Kim Davis from Fort Pitt School in Chatham recently shared her excellent lesson plan for getting pupils to think about libraries and their purpose.  This is what Kim said about her innovative activity:

‘I thought that possibly some of [the students] would have only experienced one type of library and that might have formed their impression of all libraries. We did a little library history, looking a bit at the great Library in Alexandria and why it was so important, the concept of chained books and then Carnegie libraries- how books were made accessible.

We also looked at cool libraries around the world- a pop up library on Bondi beach, Biblo Toyen in Oslo and Stuttgart’s crisp white cube library. Finally we looked at an infographic of weird things some libraries loan and also a meme about what librarians do.

The students sourced their own materials, although I kept some boxes aside in case. They were allowed to present it in any way they wanted so some just drew a picture, others presented me a floor plan and one even used design software to create the library. … one of the libraries[was] made of post-its as that was all they had at home! One created an eco-friendly library using their recycling. They didn’t have any lesson time but they had a month after the presentation to complete.’

The libraries are lovely, and what a great way to get pupils really thinking about the function of a library!

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Programme

This year, nanowrimoin my school, we plan to take part in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.  There is a Young Writer’s Programme for the under-18’s.  So I have created my Virtual Classroom, added in the participating students and their teacher, and await November 1st to see how it all pans out.  Has anyone else taken part in this with their students?  How did it go for you?  Leave a comment!

Here’s the website if you want to join in too: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/