Lent term newsletter

This term we have been busy, as ever, in our libraries, so for a little extra news about what we’ve been up to, please click on the link below to retrieve our end of term newsletter:

Lent 2017

 

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This Star Won’t Go Out (Esther Earl) and The Fault In Our Stars (John Green)

I felt that it was about time that, having seen the film, The Fault In Our Stars, this librarian read the book by John Green and delved a little deeper into the story behind the novel.  Many of our readers here at Berkhamsted already knew the book, told us that John was their favourite author and asked us whether we could wait to see the film… So, being one of the slower librarians on the uptake, I have finally read the novel (which I loved), seen the film and looked more closely into the background, which our students may not know too much about.  I quickly found that John was inspired to write the novel after meeting and getting to know Esther Grace Earl at LeakyCon 2009 (now known as GeekyCon, originally a Harry Potter fan-orientated convention based in the USA and Canada, now embracing all kinds of geeky things, music from rock bands ‘Harry and the Potters‘ and ‘The Whomping Willows‘, to name but two, nerdfighters and so much more…).

This Star Won’t Go Out is a book by Esther and her family, and includes pages from her journal and recollections from Esther’s parents, Lori and Wayne Earl, about her diagnosis as a sufferer of thyroid cancer, aged 12, how she coped and managed her illness, and her thoughts about life and how it was, to suffer in this way.  It is a wonderful book, and whilst desperately moving, Esther’s sense of fun, thoughtfulness on her illness as well as for others and how they were affected by it, shines throughout.  She doesn’t say much about what she achieves and how she reaches out to others, but the testament of her parents and friends, both IRL (in real life!) and online, speak volumes about her ability to encourage others to pull through in the face of adversity.  One thing thing which struck me when reading this book was very much the positive aspects of online social media.  The best of support chatrooms, YouTube videos, and blogs is apparent and the help these media can offer to young people who are suffering is immense.  In an age where we are encouraged to be very wary of the worst aspects of social media, it was enlightening to find so many examples of the best.  John Green wrote the introduction to the book, and I was moved to read how she was the inspiration (although not the basis) for Hazel Grace Lancaster, his heroine.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Fault In Our Stars tooreading it solidly in between working and family life, in a very short time.  I found it moving, devastating, amusing (the sense of humour exhibited by the young cancer sufferers made me think about things which go wrong in my life and how it is possible to see chinks of humour in almost any situation), and uplifting.  I feel that the author clearly understands how teenagers work and how they think, let alone how they may feel about things that happen to them, and, by the popularity of his writing, teens agree with this.  I also loved that the film’s storyline was so close to the novel, making it resonate for readers, who are so often disappointed by such adaptations.  The acting was superb and a testament to the abilities of the cast, particularly its younger members: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff.

In our libraries we have copies of both books, so now I am going to display them both together, I’m sure that they will fly off the shelves, as The Fault In Our Stars does permanently!

I would like to share the following links with you, in case you’d like to learn more about Esther Earl and John Green:

Esther’s parents have founded a charity of the same name as their book: This Star Won’t Go Out, click on this title to visit their website.  The charity does important work in helping to support the families of young cancer sufferers, as well as the children themselves.

To follow John Green on Facebook: click here, twitter: here, tumblr: here and finally on his own website here.  John also creates videoblogs together with his brother, Hank, and they are well-worth watching, they’re fun and educational: https://www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers

It’s the end of term!

Hear ye, hear ye! Read all about it!

Here at Berkhamsted, we have just half a day left of this term, and so, to finish, we produced a newsletter letting everyone in school know what we’ve been doing in the libraries this term.  We would like to share this with you.  How do you communicate with the rest of your schools and organisations about what you do?  It would be great to hear about what happens in other libraries…

The major event of the term has been the official opening of our School Archive Exhibition Room, which features on pages 4 and 5.  We have developed the Archive extensively over the past two to three years, with one of our librarians obtaining archivist qualifications, meaning that she is now the school’s official archivist, and the assignment of three rooms, fittingly, in the oldest part of the school to house the Exhibition Room, Archive Office and Store.  We hold fascinating material covering the life of the school since its foundation in 1541, from an original building, to seals of appointments of Headmasters, and a prefect book (annotated by Charles Henry Greene, author Graham Greene’s father, with details of old boys who died during the Great War,  he was Headmaster here during that time).  We have samples of uniform which spans the early decades of the twentieth century, for both boys and girls, copies of school magazines and much much more.  If you are an Old Berkhamstedian, perhaps you would like to make arrangements to visit one day.  Please do take a look at our website dedicated to the archive, by clicking here.

We have also housed an exhibition of students’ artwork which was undertaken to reflect what World War I meant to Berkhamsted School.  Give that our library on our Castle Campus is a Memorial Library to the memory of boys and members of all staff who served during the War, it seemed very fitting for us to display this artwork.

We also cover our subscriptions to e-resources and our celebration of World Book Day 2015, which took place on Thursday 5th March.

We hope that you enjoy taking a look!

first page lent 15

Click on the link below to read!

Lent 2015 blog ed.

The Memory Book (Rowan Coleman)

I very much enjoyed reading local author (to Berkhamsted), Rowan Coleman’s latest novel, The Memory Book, recently.  I was lucky enough to have a little time around New Year and so read it in a couple of days!

The novel tells the story of a woman who develops early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in her forties, and how her teenage and toddler daughters, together with her new husband and mother manage the disease and their own feelings as they watch Claire gradually descend into a state when little makes sense to her any more.  To make the most of Claire’s diminishing number of days of lucidity, they decide to start writing in a book of memories, mainly filled by Claire’s own memories of her life and experiences, but also those of her husband, Greg, elder daughter, Caitlin and mother, Ruth.  At times, it seems as though the only person who truly understands Claire is toddler Esther.  The story is eloquently told and, as a reader, one gets  a sense of all the emotions felt by each member of the family and those with whom Claire is in touch outside the home.  Memories are not only recorded, they are are created, and forge new feelings of connection between the main characters.  There are many wonderful, yet poignant, moments, which are often punctuated with a good sense of humour.  The novel ends on an upbeat level with the promise of new beginnings… Read it and enjoy!

memory book

Día europeo de las lenguas 2014 : Berkhamsted School

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

World Book Day 2014: celebrations in school (2)

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!

Library newsletters….

About eighteen months ago, I wrote about how we keep the rest of our school updated with library news and what we’ve done and achieved (please click here to view)…  Well, we still like to keep our colleagues and pupils in touch and produce a fresh copy at the end of each term.  For the last two terms, we have been trying out a new layout when casting our news to everyone at school, and we are happy with the results!  Please see our latest version below:

Summer 2013_Page_1

We used issuu software (to be found on issuu.com ) which is free to use and turns your publications into an interactive resource, more akin to the physical article of a print publication but with the advantage of using no ink or paper and can be easily manipulated to display a larger font, should this be necessary.  To turn a page, simply click on the arrows appearing either side of the document on screen, so easy!  You need to set up an account and then download your publication in a PDF format for free:  issuu does the hard work.

We were aware of issuu a little while ago, but were looking for the right opportunity to use it when it suddenly occurred to us that we could utilise the software to get our message across in a completely new and much more exciting way than by simply sending out a pdf document which is non-interactive and that you scroll down to look at.

This software programme has also been used by the organisers behind a new and fascinating magazine produced entirely by Sixth Formers and students in Year 11 at our school,  Ink.   Ink has already won  awards for Best Design and Layout, Best Overall Editorial Content and Best Feature Article, with Highly Commended for Best Original Artwork and Photography in the Shine School Media Awards:  and this is after the publication of only two issues!

INK_online_ad

Whilst we don’t aspire to compete with this expertly produced magazine, we trust that you will enjoy both on their own merits.  Whereas the former is merely a snippet of what we get up to in the libraries, the latter is engendering some serious journalistic talent!  But who knows what we will get up to next?!

Staying Away at Christmas (Katie Fforde)

Wishing you the best of the Season’s Greetings, fellow readers!   So far this holiday I have managed to complete a work of non-fiction, which has had rather an impact on me but more of that in a later post…  I have also read Katie Fforde‘s story Staying Away at Christmas on my new e-book reader, the Barnes & Noble nook!  The story was only released digitally and so I thought I would enjoy the nook for the first time by downloading and reading it.

Katie’s new story was a nice vignette of how two families unknown to one another come to celebrate Christmas together, and enjoy it against the odds.  Both believed they have booked a converted barn to spend Christmas in and when they arrive on Christmas Eve, are shocked to find that one family hadn’t confirmed their booking.  Forced by circumstances to make a decision, they agree to spend time together and soon find they might like to extend their acquaintance!stayingaway

 

For the past few years, I have sworn that I would never forsake the printed book, I do enjoy the feel of it in my hands and have believed that there is no experience on earth which compares with turning the pages to reach the end, with a satisfaction like no other!  However, what with more and more of our students and my own children enjoying both the printed and the electronic version, I knew it was time to give it a chance.  I have to say that I am more than pleasantly surprised at the experience, and with the nook came the bonus of fewer books to tidy and dust in the house!  It’s a touch screen version which is so good when you are tired, it is light and easy to use.  I find it easy to download books and buying them from the nook store straight onto the device could not be simpler. You can also download e-books from your local library service, they disappear when your loan expires so you are not faced with overdue fines,nook and share books with other people who also own a nook.  I am converted.  However, I do still love the feel of the book which I can’t imagine to translate to an electronic reader, there is still a place for beautiful books full of photographs, and images…  Why not try an e-reader and let me know how you get on?

 

Mood Boosting Week, 19-23 November 2012

Earlier in the year, we were inspired by The Reading Agency’s Mood Boosting Books initiative to provide a new collection for our students and staff.  We consulted The Reading Agency’s website and obtained their flyers containing two lists of books:  one reflecting books chosen by young people and the other detailing books recommended by older people.  These recommendations are based on books which readers have identified as having lifted their spirits and are definitely not self-help books.  There are some fabulous books on each list.  We obtained two copies of each of the young people’s books and one of each of the books offered by older people, took them to the staff rooms on both sites of our school and then to both libraries and much interest was shown.  mood_boosting_header

Click here to go to the page to find out a lot more about the initiative and here to find more information about reading groups (why not join a reading group for tea/wine, cake and book chat, all of which go well together!) :

reading groups for everyone

It’s so easy to forget how reading can transport you into another world, whether to forget about your worries for a while or to seek reassurance about the decisions you are facing, but, whatever the reason, we mustn’t forget that reading truly does give pleasure…

Read Vita Sackville-West‘s All Passion Spent and Annie Proulx‘s Bird Cloud from the list for older people and Michelle Magorian‘s novel Goodnight Mister Tom and Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery by Keren David from the list for young people…

all-passion-spent bird-cloud-by-annie-proulx Goodnight Mr Tom lia

World Book Night, 23rd April 2013

World Book Night
World Book Night (Photo credit: danbruell)

We are so happy with the excellent titles of the books included on next year’s bookgivers’ list (World Book Night takes place on April 23rd 2013 and is designed to share books and the giver’s love of reading, anyone can get involved) and are very hopeful that we can join in again! Take a look at the superlist here and tell us which one you’d choose to share with others and why…

We first got involved in the year when the book giveaway began, in March 2011.  Here’s an extract from our library newsletter from the summer last year:

World Book Night, on Saturday 5th March 2011, was also celebrated in school by the giving-away of 45 copies of Ben Macintyre’s Agent Zigzag at football fixtures on Chesham Fields against Haileybury School on the day.  Mrs Maxted gave the books to footballers, coaches and families of both teams, as well as our catering team and members of St John Ambulance who attended the matches.  It appeared that the bookgiving was successful, with all copies disappearing.

Mrs Koulouris and Mrs Maxted also attended the World Book Night launch on Friday 4th March where they heard various authors, whose books were included in the giveaway, read extracts from their books, together with actors such as Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell and Rupert Everett read poems and songs.  With Graham Norton officiating, it was a great evening! ”

This year, Miss Guy, Head of Learning Resources, participated by giving copies of Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel The Time Traveller’s Wife to staff and students who came clamouring to the door!   And for 2013, I feel inspired.  Take a look and see…