World Book Day 2012: Celebrations in School, part 5

I am still receiving feedback from our lovely members of staff here at Berkhamsted who have shared books, either with each other or with their classes.  My first entry today comes from Mrs Warburton, who says:

“I always have several books on the go but I decided to share Inheritance by Christopher Paolini with my Year 7 and Year 8 as I knew many of them would have read the Eragon series and thought that they would be interested to know that I can enjoy the same things as them – and vice versa.   Having read a small section we chatted a bit about books that were films and vice versa. I left them with the idea that they must not pigeon hole books or themselves as boys/girls old/young etc.”

It is refreshing to remind ourselves that our minds should be open when it comes to reading books which are new to us, and trying different genres that we wouldn’t normally pick up can be very rewarding.

Two other members of staff have sent me reviews of books they’ve shared with others for World Book Day.  Mrs Koulouris has updated me with a review of the book she was reading when I posted my first entry on World Book Day (Celebrations in School, part 1): Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers. She tells me:

“I’m not a fan of stories that bounce from past to present throughout, but this I read in two sessions! From the saddest start, through her blue room sanctuary, I was willing Victoria an happy ending.  The acknowledgements are intriguing though, I will have to read up on the author, to find out about ‘Megan’ ?”  Perhaps this should be a challenge for all readers of the book…

Mr van Noordwyck also shared a recommendation of books he’s read recently:

” Ever since I picked up the first paperback written by the author, Andy McNab, (the title was Bravo Two Zero), the style and entertainment value of his books was something I enjoyed during my leisure time. Apparently there was a film made, but I have not seen it yet.  As it goes with film making, they never really manage to capture the thought and the emotion as successfully as an author that would write in the first person does. It is like the Bourne series – a seriously good film, but not even closely comparable with the nature and the style, the narrative version of the life of a spy.  His latest book, or should I say his last published book that I read, Zero Hour, had an interesting twist and, in reading, somehow you would then think it is all over, but this man seemingly has more lives than a cat.  Andy McNab is no ordinary author, he has seen it, lived it and has much to tell.  The books form a series, but you can just about start reading anywhere.  It is all about a secret operative, Nick Stone, who does covert operations and gets sent on missions where the average soldier would not have the grit to go and come back alive. As with most books in this series, there is always an element of surprise, a twist in the story. From conspiracies to crooked politicians to double agents, betrayal the lot – it is all in there. Certainly a good read.  [We have several of Andy McNab’s books in the library: SJM]

His very latest book, entitled War Torn, is not a pleasant read to those who think that joining the forces is a good thrill. This book is set in Afghanistan where the frontline soldiers have to fight another enemy in the form of stress and strain and the anxieties they face in modern warfare. There is much trauma and the way in it affects the families and relatives casts another perspective on life as a soldier.

Another author that I rate very high is Jeffrey Archer.  The last book I read authored by him was The Eleventh Commandment.  It is another spy type conspiracy book written about a CIA operative, Connor Fitzgerald. He is a professional, best of the best.  This man is the holder of the Medal of Honor. In the book he is portrayed as this devoted family man. He has served his country well and is about to retire when the request came.  Fitzgerald comes face to face with an enemy who, for the first time, even he cannot handle–his own boss, Helen Dexter, Director of the CIA. ‘Thou Shalt Not Be Caught.’ (Hence the Eleventh Commandment.)  But the CIA boss, Dexter’ s stranglehold on the agency, is threatened by a power greater than her own, and her only hope is to destroy Fitzgerald.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a new threat to national security is emerging in the form of a ruthless hard-line Russian president who is determined to force a military confrontation between the two superpowers.  It then is up to the intrepid Fitzgerald to pull off his most daring mission yet–save the world, and hopefully his own life.  I could not put the book down and felt frustrated not being able to have enough time to finish, it is worse than playing Call of Duty.”

I should like to extend many thanks to the contributors to this entry.  By extending their interest in reading to others, it they have shared their enjoyment of the written word.  Pupils have been encouraged by members of staff from all subject backgrounds to seek out a book choice which will interest them, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.  How fantastic is that?!

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World Book Day 2012: Celebrations in School, part 4

This is our last post today covering our World Book Day celebrations.  Our final contributors have informed us of more fascinating books which they have read.  I have learned a lot, in reading our submissions, about books that have now joined many others on my to-read list…

We start with Mr Pett’s choice:

” I discussed my book The Etymologicon, [by Mark Forsyth] which bemused my groups, I think. A worthwhile activity, I think.”  This sounds extremely interesting. As I delved a little deeper, I discovered that the book originates from Mark Forsyth’s Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words.  Must check this out further…

Continuing with the Classical Civilisation Department, Miss Bradley told me:

“I have taught Years 11, 9, 10 and 8 today and we spent at least 20 minutes talking about books. The girls shared their favourite title or a book that was special to them and why. I explained why I love [Tolkien’s] The Lord of the Rings. I read aloud to them an extract from The Return of the King and then showed them the equivalent scene from the film – we discussed which we preferred and whether the film was a good representation of the book. We also touched on how heavily influenced J K Rowling’s work is by Lord of the Rings and how the trilogy also has resonances of the historical time period in which it was written, between 1939 – 1947.

I then read aloud an extract from Book 9 of the Odyssey by Homer to some classes to show how words that were written nearly 3000 years ago can still resonate today.”  Wonderful stuff!  I wonder whether the girls preferred the book or the film and if they did think the film was a good representation?  I love the idea that Homer’s ancient words are still relevant, more recommended reading…

Mrs Instone concludes this series with her reflections:

Read my classes a bit from Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome about children having sailing adventures on the Norfolk Broads in the days of innocence when four children aged between 7 and 12 were allowed to camp on an island in the middle of the Broads without direct parental supervision for three days at a time.  They did have to report in to a local farmer to collect provisions and to leave a message for their mother that they were all right!  Oh for those days of innocence and freedom!

To the boys I also read a short extract from the latest Lee Child. All of his books have Jack Reacher , a Major in the American Military police,  as the central character. He gets into all manner of scrapes to right various wrongs in a singularly direct manner.  A good holiday read.”

I would like to thank all members of staff who have been in touch, sending in their experiences, it is a lovely thing to be able to do and to receive such positive comments.  They have shared their passion and it is very much appreciated.  I should also like to thank the children, whose responses have made the exercise worthwhile.

World Book Day 2012: Celebrations in School, part 1

Here in Berkhamsted we celebrated World Book Day yesterday, Thursday 1st March, by participating in DEAR (Drop Everything And Read).  We asked our teaching colleagues to share a favourite or current book with their classes, read an extract perhaps, and talk with students about why they are passionate about reading and what it means to them.  We also asked non-teaching staff to share with us what they like to read and, similarly, to tell us why they enjoy it as a pastime.  We have had some lovely responses so far and I’m hoping that more will get in touch.  Please read what we’ve written and let us know what you think…

Let’s begin with Mrs Ferguson, Head of Art :

“I spoke to Year 11 boys, Year 13 artists and Year 10 boys about Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I explained where my own love of reading sprang from – influenced by my mother (an avid reader) and a wonderful A-level English course, leading onto an English degree (I think some were quite surprised by this last fact!). I went on to talk about how I quite often discover new writers through their short stories and then go on to reading novels by the same writer, although with Marquez this was the other way round; the first book I read by him was Love in the Time of Cholera. I gave them a bit of biographical context and then the extract that I read out was from The Third Resignation – an early piece very much in the magical realist style and describing the first-hand experiences of a boy who is a living corpse kept by his family in a coffin. Judging from their faces, all the pupils I read this out to were suitably transfixed by what is a magnificently sensual evocation of a waking nightmare!”

Next we talked with Mrs Bailey, PA to the Head of Girls and Mrs Koulouris, one of our librarians:

“Just finished Me Before You Jojo Moyes! Fantastic book…  Heart-wrenching, believable story line.  If you don’t cry over this you haven’t got a heart”.  Mrs Koulouris says that they didn’t cry over the same parts of the story but nonetheless both equally enjoyed it.  She has just started Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers which is another lovely story.

Thirdly, Mr Binnie, a Chemistry teacher, contacted us saying:

“I read my Year 7 science class a small section of Stephen Hawking’s book The Grand Design. The passage included reference to multi universes existing which they found fascinating.  They had loads of questions and asked about aliens, evolution and all sorts of stuff. I had an exciting practical prepared for them which they always enjoy so I asked them after 20 minutes of discussion whether they wanted to do the practical. About 75% wanted to continue with the discussion so we did and there were about 5 hands up at all times in the lesson and we talked about all aspects of science.

We did this for the whole hour lesson and they really enjoyed it and I did too.”

I find it so refreshing that teachers and staff from all areas have been in touch to talk about the pleasure gained from reading, whether it be fiction or non-fiction; books, newspapers or magazines, and the fact that staff and pupils alike borrow many books from here, is extremely satisfying!