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Yesterday saw us enjoying National Poetry Day 2014!   We encouraged students and staff to write a poem on the theme of ‘Remember’ (this year’s theme decided by the Poetry Society) and send it to us so that we could display their work on our Poetry Memory Boards and we are offering a prize for both the best adult and student entries…  Watch this space for the announcement next week of the winners and publication of their poems!

We entertained some enthusiastic students, as ever, in the poetry cafés set up in the libraries on both campuses. Some classes were encouraged to write twitter poems of a maximum of 140 characters in length, which proved very challenging, some were encouraged to think about nature and to be inspired by the clouds wafting by overhead.  In our Year 9 Boys Reading Group, we thought of a memory we had which sparked off a moment of inspiration for some great poems.  One about what happened on 9/11 in particular struck us as being good, especially since the boy who wrote it would not have been born then Read the rest of this entry »

EDL_Logo1On Friday 26th September 2014, we celebrated European Day of Languages in School, and, I believe, to a resounding success!  This year, we decided to focus on our learning of Spanish and we worked with our excellent Spanish teachers to create some activities for classes for when they came into the libraries.  Some classes used iPads and computers to answer our quizzes as there were too many to visit us at some points during the day.

We devised quizzes promoting Spanish literature where the children had to match a picture of a Spanish-speaking author (from around the world) to their book cover, Spanish and South American artists to their work,  and the names of well-known Spanish celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment to their photographs.  One of our lovely teachers devised a quiz about the many varied and wonderful festivals celebrated in Spanish culture, so, all in all, in a twenty minute lesson, each class had an enlightening and fun learning experience.  Proudly displaying the Spanish flag, our catering staff enhanced the day by providing paella, filled tortillas and a delicious steamed seville orange pudding with chocolate sauce for lunch.

We also highlighted the language resources which we use in the library, from the Mary Glasgow magazines of  ¿Que Tal?, ahora and El Sol, to books (including fiction and travel guides), reference material and dvds of Spanish films.

We hope that on this day, our students from Years 7-9 renewed their enjoyment of language-learning, which will continue to be something they love throughout their lives.

Spanish table

Spanish display

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It’s the Bookbuzz time of year here in the libraries at Berkhamsted School!  We have spread the word amongst our Year 7 English classes and talked with the students about how fantastic the selection of books is this year.  They have had to make some difficult decisions about which book to choose to take home to keep, which books to read in the library and which to swap with their friends.  One of the things that I love most about Bookbuzz is the excitement and enthusiasm shown by all students and their teachers as they talk about the book they would like to receive as a Christmas present from us, the librarians!   It’s also heartwarming to see how the students are pleased to be able to choose something for themselves, without the influence of anyone else.  They have all chosen their books, the order has been submitted, but shhhhhh!  Don’t tell them, the books have already arrived!  We will keep them for Christmas…

I can understand how hard a decision to choose a book can be, especially since all of these books look like a fantastic read for our young people. Which would you choose?

 

Enjoying a Book A Day

Berkhamsted School Library:

Personally, in Berkhamsted School Library, we think that this is a splendid idea! Please participate if you you feel so inclined, you will probably be retweeted and favourited, as there are many of us booklovers out there!

Originally posted on The Reader Online:

If you’re a regular tweeter, you might have seen the #BookADay hashtag pop up in those trending topics since the beginning of June. A certain global competition has taken over in recent days (although, there are a number of titles that embrace the beautiful game – including Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby), but there’s still lots of tweet activity to be found relating to the wide and wonderful world of literature…

Alas, it’s not a declaration of a mammoth feat of devouring a whole book in the space of 24 hours, but still a very impressive celebration of reading. For the 30 days of June, Borough Press is asking people to tweet their Book A Day, with each day devoted to a different topic.

So far, the challenge has covered favourite book from childhood, a book that you have more than one copy of and a book that reminds you…

View original 134 more words

I know it’s been a little while since I last wrote, and I do apologise, the libraries at school have been rather busy of late.  I will endeavour to blog more frequently henceforth.

I have just finished reading Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, which has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal (awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children) and is the winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2014.  It is a wonderful novel, beautifully written and well-deserves its nomination for the Carnegie Medal, and Waterstone’s prize.

The novel tells Sophie’s story: she is believed to be orphaned after a shipwreck in the English Channel, in which her mother disappeared.  Sophie was found floating in the sea in an empty cello case, wrapped in the score of a Beethoven symphony for warmth, and rescued by quiet academic, Charles Maxim, who then sees it his duty and care to bring Sophie up.  She receives the attention of a father from a man who had not previously known such cares, but who does a brilliant job as an unwitting parent, even if it is, somewhat, unconventional.  They rub along nicely and uneventfully until the authorities decide that Charles should no longer look after Sophie when she reaches her 12th birthday.  Sophie and Charles then decide to embark on an adventure to find Sophie’s mother in Paris, Sophie has a strong feeling that she is still alive and that she will find her one day…  They encounter all kinds of adventures but you must read the book to discover the excitement of Paris, and Sophie’s nocturnal adventures with children who live amongst the rooftops and trees.

Enjoy this novel!  I’d like to wish Katherine Rundell all the very best with the race for the Carnegie title, she would be a very worthy winner!Rooftoppers

Welcome to part two of our posts about our celebrations for World Book Day 2014.  We took our lead from the World Book Day 2014 website  and decided to create our own ‘Writes of Passage’ noticeboard.  We had a banner made for each of our school libraries and placed them close to, or at the top of, a noticeboard.  We then invited as many people as possible to complete blank postcards with details of books which had meant a lot to them as they were reading them.  We had a terrific response!  Many were colourful and some contained entire illustrations.  Many congratulations and thanks to all who participated!

We were delighted that so many people participated – we received 322 cards and the majority of books shared were shared by only one person, and amongst them, there were only a few adults represented, thus providing an overwhelming impression that our children are reading and reading so diversely!  The children also voted outstandingly in favour of print editions over electronic versions of books.  Hooray!  Our top ten books, (including series) are as follows:

1.     The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

2.    The Fault in Our Stars John Green

3.     To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

4.     Harry Potter series J K Rowling

5.     The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

6.     The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Mark Haddon

7.     The Book Thief Markus Zusak

8.     The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Jonas Jonasson

9.     The Inheritance Cycle Christopher Paolini

10.   The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

Interesting that our top four also rank in the top four on the World Book Day 2014 list!

One week has already passed since we celebrated World Book Day in school and we thought we would share with our readers the books which our great teachers have discussed with their students in class on the day.  We followed the Drop Everything And Read initiative, whereby the teacher talked to their classes about a favourite book, or one which means a lot to them, and then this was followed a conversation about reading in general.  Here are some of the responses:

Mr Cowie, head of our Economics Department, recommended Leviathan – The Rise of Britain as a World Power by David Scott.  He says:

“How did an insignificant, rain-swept set of islands in the North Atlantic become the greatest power first in Europe and then in the world? Splendid stuff – proper history!”

leviathan

Mme Shipton wrote to say:

“I read a passage from Le Petit Prince [by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry] in French. Some girls were also keen to read out loud and invited to do so.  It was an enjoyable experience”.

le petit prince

In co-curricular club at lunch-time, historian Mr Bridle talked to his pupils about John Donne’s poem No Man is an Island :

“We were talking about why human rights abuses overseas should matter to us”.

john donne

English teacher, Mrs Tomlin, had an interesting idea:

“I read an extract from The Book Thief  [by Markus Zusak] to my classes and they had to guess whose perspective it was written from. Once they looked at the clues, many pupils guessed that it was Death. This has created intrigue as to how it can be made into a film. Some pupils even debated whether we were supposed to feel sympathy for Death!”

book thiefInspiring reads there, I think…  Our next entry will tell of our other library exploits during the day.

The_Rosie_Project_jktFollowing on from my last blog post, we have now had a book group meeting where we discussed Graeme Simsion’s novel, The Rosie Project.  We all enjoyed it so much, and could easily identify with the characters, recognising traits of Dr Don Tillman in all of us (some more than others!).  One member of the group even professed to be Don!  Some amongst us had been to meet the author at Chorleywood Library on Thursday 13th February and were treated to a very entertaining evening. Graeme Simsion talked about how he had come to write the book (originally conceived as a screenplay for a film), where he drew his inspiration from and how he has indeed, just turned the novel into a screenplay. He has also completed a sequel.  Both the film and second novel will be eagerly awaited by us!  The novel made us laugh out loud, as we did when we heard him speak.

At the back of the book, there are some cocktail recipes which Don memorises for a reunion of the medics who were contemporaries of Rosie’s mother, which look quite fun to try.  You should also take the test to see whether you are compatible with Don and would make a good wife for this Professor who likes to live his life according to schedules and regimes!  If you are male, you could view this as a test to see whether you are Don!  Why not look at the website for the book and see which character you are most like?  Click here to find out.  Four of us tried the Wife Project quiz and one of us was very nearly a good match…

We also discussed Damian Barr’s book, Maggie and me. This memoir is an account of Damian’s difficult and poverty-stricken upbringing in suburban Glasgow close to the Ravenscraig Steelworks during the era of the Thatcher government.  The views of our reading group were quite varied: ‘I didn’t like the content, but found it compelling and couldn’t put it down'; ‘It was very interesting, if uncomfortable, reading'; ‘I enjoyed it.  It is very different from the books which we usually read.  It was not as dark as it could have been, Damian kept it fairly jovial considering what he was going through’.  Definitely one for the ‘to-read’ shelf…

maggie and me

Two of our members also found the time to read Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson:

Beautiful Alyshia D’Cruz has grown up in London and Mumbai wanting for nothing. But one night she takes the wrong cab home. Charles Boxer, expert in high-stakes kidnap resolution, teams up with his ex-partner, investigative cop Mercy Danquah, who’s battling with their rebellious teenage daughter. Alyshia’s father hires Boxer, who knows all about the tycoon’s colourful career, which has made him plenty of enemies. But despite the vast D’Cruz fortune, the kidnappers don’t want cash, instead favouring a cruel and lethal game…To save Alyshia, Boxer must dodge religious fanatics, Indian mobsters and London’s homegrown crimelords. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT is a journey to the dark side of people and places that lie just out of view, waiting for the moment to tear a life apart.   Neilsen Bookdata Online.

Our members really enjoyed it and found it good to read a book from the crime genre.  One said: ‘I have also finished Capital Punishment which I loved also. Enjoyed reading an English crime novel for a change. Loved that it was based in London so I could actually visualise where they were! Liked the characters’.  The other commented that it was a good thriller and kept him turning the pages.  It’s certainly on my pile to read next.

capital punishmentHappy reading!

 

 

Happy New Year to all our Readers!  We very much hope that you enjoyed the Christmas break and were able to relax a little, we needed to after a very hectic end to last term!

Our Reading Group is starting this year with Graeme Simsion’s highly acclaimed book, The Rosie Project. We haven’t had our meeting to discuss the book yet, but I’m already receiving feedback and everyone I’ve spoken with, loved it and couldn’t put it down!  It’s certainly a great book for cheering up our wet and dark January days.  I finished this book today and can concur with the opinions of my colleagues and I felt the need to share it with you!

Professor Don Tillman is a professor of genetics at a university in Melbourne who, as he approaches the age of forty, decides that he would like to be married.  He establishes the Wife Project which is overseen by his best friend Gene (professor of psychology, formerly genetics, at the same university) and Gene’s wife, Claudia, also a psychologist.  Don displays aspects of Aspergers Syndrome, living his life by following a set of strict rules and timings and his Wife Project questionnaire is tailored to find exactly the perfect wife who would share his interests and values.  Fate intervenes and throws Rosie in his path.  Rosie is a young woman so completely different from what Don expects, could she be the one to turn his head in the end?  Rosie is searching for her real father and has come to see Don to seek his help, this being his field of expertise… She knows nothing of the Wife Project.  Don tells his tale in his own inimitable style and gets into some incredible scrapes at work and in pursuit of Rosie’s father.

Graeme Simsion talked about his debut novel in an interview with Mark Lawson on his BBC Radio4 programme Front Row : ‘I am not a psychologist, I didn’t go and read lots of books on Aspergers… People say how much research did you do into Aspergers and I say thirty years in Information Technology!’  I would heartily recommend this book to lighten the winter blues and, for all women out there who think they might match up to Don’s requirements, why not complete the questionnaire in the back of the book? You may be surprised by the results!  You can also enjoy some of the cocktails he learnt to make on his journey to find love.

The_Rosie_Project_jkt

Reading about reading…

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Usually, in a book blog, we write about books which we have read, but today I wanted to write about books that I would like to read and which are already on my to-read pile…

The first of these is a book written by Philip Davis, Professor of Psychological Sciences at Liverpool University.  His book Reading and the Reader discusses how literary reading can influence our emotions and the way we see the world.  I first came across Professor Davis whilst watching a television programme on BBC1 a few years ago, when he was talking about the impact that reading classic literature has on the human brain with particular mention of the words used by William Shakespeare in his plays.  I remember how he was enthusiastic about the use of the word ‘godded’ and how its emphasis was far greater than more common usage of the English language at the time.  I next read his work whilst reading for my master’s dissertation about bibliotherapy and his involvement with The Reader Organisation, established by his wife, Dr Jane Davis, which has inspired me greatly in the years since writing for my MA in 2010.  I am keen to begin reading Professor Davis’s book…

Next on my list is Belinda Jack’s volume, The Woman Reader.  I am intrigued to discover more about the history of women’s reading and whether women’s reading habits really do differ from those attributed to men.  I would like to know how the reading experience differs between genders and whether it actually is different…  Following the reading of this book, it would be interesting to conduct a little research of my own amongst colleagues and students!

Finally, this has also been on my reading list for a little while; Book was there : reading in electronic times by Andrew Piper, a teacher of German and European Literature at McGill University.  In this book, he discusses how the act of reading is changing, and how new reading technologies are altering our relationship with reading.  I actually have in my possession a physical version of this book, so shall report back as soon as I have read it, and tell you exactly how we need to proceed with our reading in the future!

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