Author Podcasts now available!

Snip20150225_7Cotsen Children’s Library has interviewed children’s authors since 2009, and has just made these interviews available for free as podcasts.  There is a good mixture of well known authors on there – Philip Pullman, Sharon Creech, Joseph Delaney and Kaye Umansky, to name a few.  To read about the programme, and how the author Lloyd Alexander inspired the interviews, see here.  To read more about the featured authors including transcripts of the interviews, see here. This is a great archive that Cotsen Children’s Library has built up – thanks to them for making all of this freely available.

BiblioFiles artwork by Aliisa Lee. Used with permission.

One Million Minutes – are you taking part?



Can our primary school children really read for One Million Minutes in just two weeks?

 Leading education charity Achievement for All teams up with Peters Books & Furniture to launch the One Million Minutes reading challenge in Bristol, Bath and Somerset.Leading education charity Achievement for All and Peters Books & Furniture are asking primary school children across the area to join together to read for a collective total of one million minutes in just two weeks.

It’s hoped the challenge will help promote a love of literacy and put reading right at the heart of each and every school day. With a powerful competitive element, and the opportunity to win a great prize for your school, the brains behind the One Million Minutes challenge are hoping children across the area will want to be involved.

Children can register with the help of their teacher at

They are then asked to contribute the number of minutes they read for each day to the Readometer, which will keep track of running totals and show which individuals are contributing the most via the leader board.

If all that wasn’t reason enough to take part – there’s also a great prize to be won for the winning child’s school! Peters Books & Furniture are donating a brand new fully equipped reading corner complete with a range of fabulous new books worth over a thousand pounds!

 CEO of Achievement for All Professor Sonia Blandford said:

 “Just ten minutes of reading a day can make such a difference to a child, that’s really the minimum we as parents should be striving for. But we hope this challenge is going to see children doing far more than that. We hope all primary schools will sign their children up to the challenge, and celebrate literacy and a love of reading by makingOne Million Minutes part of the school day.”

Achievement for All is one of a coalition of charities leading the Read On. Get On.campaign that aims to see every child reading well by the age of 11 by 2025, and hopes the One Million Minutes challenge will encourage more children to read, and for longer, both at home and at school.

 The challenge will begin on 23rd February 2015 and finish on 9th March. 

  • New research by Read On. Get On shows the UK has the strongest link among developed nations between poor literacy and unemployment.
  • Last year a quarter of all children left primary education without reading well, that figure rises to two in four poorer children.
  • New analysis for the Read On. Get On. Campaign demonstrates how only one other country in Europe, Romaina, has more unequal reading attainment among ten-year-olds.
  • The gap between the best and the worst ten-year-old readers in England is broadly equivalent to seven years.



Harry Potter Night at the Grey Coat Hospital School Library

We held a HP party for 60 girls, with decorations and activities.
Librarian Penny (aka Madam Trelawney) and her assistant (Tonks) had a wonderful time in the library on Harry Potter Night. This is her account of the time, along with some wonderful pictures.  Penny reports:


Harry frame

“We sorted them as they arrived, with a hat and badges in a bag, then they were photographed in a ‘Have you seen this wizard’ frame.
Then 4 prefects each took their house to a different lesson which were:
Charms with floating rings
Transfiguration with card tricks
Care of magical creatures with a bring-your-own creature competition
Divination making paper fortune tellers

As each 10 minute lesson ended, I cried “finite incantatem!”, and the moved on.
We finished with a magical creatures final, and party bags with re-packaged sweets, and very special bookmarks designed by my brilliant assistant.

We were totally exhausted, but it was such fun!   Already planning next year’s!”

Harry CauldronDementor chocolate 1 Hufflepuff Bookmark copy

Harry Potter Night at Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School

Harry Potter-007

Anita, Librarian at Merchant Taylors’ school in Liverpool, sent me her account of what they got up to on Harry Potter Night.  It sounds fantastic! She says:

“I had 80 years 3 and 4 for 90 minutes doing three of a ten activity programme. Somehow I managed to persuade eleven teachers to run an activity after school for no extra pay (lots of approval points though) and then further persuade our deputy head to be Professor McGonagall complete with sorting hat. Altogether there were 20 of us last night all gowned up, playing Quidditch,making mini Hedwigs,watching an amazing science demonstration,learning Latin spells,following a mischief map,learning about the history of magic,doing mini science ,astronomy and making wands. Even refreshments were HP themed green jelly with sour spiders,pumpkin juice and cupcakes.”

A fuller description and photos can be found on the school website.  Pictured here is Deputy Head Jane Tyndall in the guise of Professor McGonagall.

National Storytelling Week 2015

Storyteller Sue AllonbyQEGS were delighted to be a part of National Storytelling Week and celebrated in the Library with a wealth of stories and tales all during this special storytelling week. From our Telling Tales group sharing scary tales to Mrs Verner reading The Viper, to our key event and guest storyteller Sue Allonby who shared lots of traditional tales including working with different year groups and also presenting a lunchtime event – to Mr Hargreaves complete with his flat cap and then finally to Mrs Foxley adding her own original touch to her delightful story which included delicate bones, frogs, lashing reeds and Little Duke.

Head of Library, Mrs Dewhurst commented ” it’s been an exciting week packed with a variety of stories and different members of staff volunteering to read – for which I am extremely grateful. A web of stories was spun, exciting sessions created much interest, with all events being extremely well attended. NSW is celebrated by all ages and often includes folk tales, fairy lore, figments, phantoms, dragons, serpents, storms at sea.  A good teller will conjure intriguingly –  our storytellers did just that!  It’s good to see that NSW appears to be steadily growing each year as more and more schools now get involved and celebrate, we are very proud of our contribution. My thanks must go to all storytellers including my own Telling Tales group, and also to many of Year 7 who joined in with the celebrations. A very big thank you to the Grandmother of Ruth Brown (8RMW) and Jane Brown (7NJP) who created a beautiful handmade storyteller’s gift for our visitor/storyteller, Sue Allonby. This has been a busy, eventful and successful week, which now leads on to our annual Book Week in March when we will welcome author Tom Palmer.”

Do let me know if you also celebrate National Storytelling Week – and how you do it!