About Me

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I currently work as a school librarian at a school in Welwyn Garden City in Herts. I am also the Chair of the Federation of Children's Book Groups a National Reading and Literacy Charity as well as being founder of National Non-Fiction Day. I also work as an indepedent consultant to publishers, schools and librarans

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Reading Research

Research carried out by Booktrust has shown an increase in children saying that they enjoy reading. It also highlighted that children felt they were distracted by television and computer games, which is something that I think we all know anyway! What i found quite interesting was that around 74% of children said that they liked to chose their own books which I think is very encouraging. As much as I love to shout about and tell people about new books I love it even more when they come to me and tell what they like and are very fimr in their choices. It gives me a chance to talk to them on a different level about why they choose the books they do and then this can lead into giving them advice about other books they may enjoy.
Another slightly more worrying point was that only 5% of children would go on what their dads told them to read. Obviously there could be a number of reasons for this but from my experience it is mostly because there is a lack of male role models who read for children. We are very lucky in our school as we have three male english teachers who are all readers and encourage the kids to read as well. This though is not the same everywhere. I've worked in schools where there are no male english teachers and you can see the effect that it has. If a child grows up without knowing that its ok for boys to like, enjoy reading because they don't see the male figures in their lives doing it, it does have a detrimental effect on them.
But it is the same all over, all children need to see positive reading role models whether they are male or female. Now whether of not you believe that there is a problem with boys reading, we can't just look at one area and improve that only to find in the future that we have neglected all the other areas and now there is a problem with them. We need to make sure that we are always tuned into everyone's reading tastes and habits, providing in the book world a non-discriminative view point on age, sex, race, culture because as soon as we start catergorising things we break things down into groups and not everyone fits into a group. When we truly view reading as something for everyone and don't try to put labels on things then we will see a change in the whole rather than the spectrum. It may not sound radical to some but it does require people to think differently.

St Albans art forum

Last night I attended a meeting in St Albans to dicuss the possiblity of an arts froum being set up in the city. The idea would be that its not going to be council run, although funding may be available from local gov but that it is for the people by the people. There were certainly some interesting people there. Most people had very similar ideas ass to what was needed if this were a thing that could actually happen. Something was needed where there was a central database of information both for the different arts groups but also for other people wanting to find out what was going on. It was also suggested that there should be more tying up of organisations and idviduals with more people working together towards a common shared vision. It was felt that one person in overall charge leading a steering group and a committee was also needed.
It was certainly an interesting proposal and something that could prove to be very useful for St Albans' art and also for the individuals taking part.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Books cont..

I thought maybe I should let you know the books that I have been reading over the last few days. I'm quite pleased that I've managed to get back into the swing of reading books in a quick space of time. I used to be able to read around 5 or so books a week as I'm a pretty quick reader. Anyway a couple of what I've read since sat!! When I was Joe by Keren David. It was a proof book i got in the post a couple of days ago, really really enjoyed it! Its about a young boy who witnesses a stabbing in a park and has to go into witness protection along with his mum so he can testify against the people that were involved. As he moves into witness protection it takes him a while to get used to be someone different but it also allows him to start over again to be someone new, someone different from his character. He finds out that he is good at running, very good, and also that he has suddenly a lot of female attention. As Joe starts to get used to things there is always the threat of someone trying to get to him to stop him from testifying and then when things start to go wrong in his life when he makes friends with someone who has an even bigger secret to hide everything begins to fall apart again! A really good read from Frances Lincoln.
The next book is Marcus Sedgwick's new one Revolver. A really fast pace book which has you on the end of your seat all the way through. It is about the power of guns, but set in the past in the town of Nome where there was once a gold-rush this is not an issues book. The story is set in a cabin and is about the life of one family and in particular a father and a son. The story starts with the death of Sig's father who has fallen into the ice and died. Sig is waiting for his sister and his step mother to go and get help when a knock on the door silences Sig's thoughts. Upon opening the door Sig's life changes forever. At the door is a man who has been tracking Sig's father for ten years believing that he owes him a lot of money. As Sig's father has died the man decides that it is up to Sig to take on the ownership of the crime. As the story progresses the power of the gun that Sig has in the cupboard becomes stronger and stronger but will he have to courage to use it?
Abother book that I've just finished today is If You're Reading this it's too Late. It's a really good adventure mystery, which although isn't the best story of piece of written work ever does get you hooked and gives a certain amount of pleasure as you work your way through the mystery behind some very unsavoury characters and the great Max-Ernest, one of the heroes of the story!!


It's great so many book related competitions out there at the moment. I have come across three really good ones in the last couple of days and for someone who enjoys writing there is one really good one from Frances Lincoln that looks brilliant.
As part of their diverse voices children's book award they want to celebrate cultural diversity by having an unpublished author submit a piece of work that they feel emcourages and promotes diversity within children's fiction. With a minimum of 15,000 and a maximum of 35,000 words anyone over 16 can enter.
Another competition which you may want to enter has one of the federation's exectutive members on its judging panel. Martin Kromer has been asked to sit on the panel for the Seven Stones competition. The competiton gives children a chance to become a character in a book. All they have to do is read the book The Seven Stones and write in no more than 100 words what your fave charater was and why!
The third competition is from Penguin and gives readers of Charlie Higsons new zombie book The Enemy a chance to win a really frightening experience at Thorpe Park on halloween. All you need to do is visit and www.the-enemy.co.uk/halloween good luck!!


I have been quite lucky so far this half term and have managed to read a few books already. In our library we shadow so many book awards through the year (in total we run 14 book groups through the year) that keeping up with all those books as well as making sure i am reading books for the Red House Book Award its always hard to be on top of things. I am hoping to finish off this half term the Teenage Book Award but also to read some of the books that have been piled up next to my bed!!

Our School

A little bit of a personal one now as for the first half term of school we have been extremely busy in our school library. Of course we have been continuing to test as many books as possible with some becoming extremely popular. At the moment we are all loving the Hunger Games, an excellent read that has had all talking at break and lunchtimes about it. We have also been shadowing the Teenage Book Award, which has been a great list and has given us loads of things to talk about, whether good or bad!!
We have also been celebrating Black History Month and National Poetry Day throughout October and have run a number of really fun interactive events including invited rapper and poet BREIS to our library to work with students on creating their own raps. We booked BREIS through the excellent website Apples and Snakes and would highly recommend them and BREIS.
In Herts we also have a big history with the abolition of the Slave Trade and visited our county archives to learn more. Having a background myself in creative writing it was great to have the students partake in some imaginative writing using the excellent archives as inspirations for their stories.
Another project that includes writing has been the Write Path International Story writing project which we also took part in. It was great fun to write stories that had been started by top authors and then contributed to by schools all over the world. The students that took part loved it so much they have started their own version of it between them and as a school we are also writing another story that has been contricuted to by staff and students. It was a project we started last year and proved so successful we decided to do another one!!
One new thing for our library has been to turn it into a eco friendly and sustainable one. We have set up a group called the committee whose job it is to work within the library to make sure we are meeting certain requirements. We are also going to be working within the local community sharing stories with primary schools, raising money for the local children's hospital and Great Ormond Street, planting tress in a new local forest and also working to raise books for a school in South Africa that we have recently been twinned with. We hope that we can make our library work as hard as possible to become a major part of our local community and to help other libraries around the world and area enjoy reading as much as we do!!


Since my last post its been great to see the support that the reading campaigns are getting. Alan Gibbons is doing sterling work and finally it seems that Cilip the Professional body for librarians has got on board. My feelings about Cilip are not unknown in the fact that all the work Alan is doing is amazing but for those librarians who pay their fees to Cilip you wonder what their job is if its not to defend the rights of libraries and librarians.
It is though encouraging to see so many people supporting Alan and there was a also a really positive article in the Yorkshire Post last week highlighting the campaign and the ways in which it is helping to bring this issue into open.


Well after thinking that it would be nice to take a couple of weeks of on holiday it seems that that has turned into, well, a couple of months. I cannot believe how much time has gone since i last posted on here. But I can promise you that it has defiantely not been through a lack of activity! Since the last post I have spent a lot of time having meetings in dark rooms about very exciting porjects that are going to be taking place over the next year! At the moment it's all a little hush hush but I can say I am very excited indeed!!