Crystal Peaks Library | World Book Day | Save Our Libraries

An important community event in aid of World Book Day (3 March 2011) is taking place in Crystal Peaks Library to help promote libraries in a bid to 'Save our libraries'.

A full day of events taking place for adults and children, including readings from famous authors and a visit from The Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

Michelin Starred TV Chef and author Tessa Bramley talks about her books and books that have influenced her life.

Award winning play write and novelist Elizabeth Baines, reads from her books and talks about how libraries played a role in her life.

Local author Martyn Johnson reads from his book "What's tha up to, memoirs of an Attercliffe Bobby
" and talks about his involvement in the making of the book Black Diamonds.

Local poet Rob Hindle reads from his books and talks.

Local Community theatre group read from children's books and plays.

Workshop on reading to your children.

I am not going to make it, I'll be at the FOOTSEY Expo, but I hope some Reading Matters representatives will be there.

World Book Day 2011

Thursday 3 March 2011 is World Book Day 2011. As usual there are a fantastic array of activities and resources to get involved with. I particularly like the look of some of the £1 books available this year; in particular Dr Seuss on the Loose, S.W.I.T.C.H Bug Battle by Ali Sparkes and Traction City by Philip Reeve.

Also new is the Digi-Tale website, with some cool looking gear to be won.

I may have missed it in previous years, but there seems to be a lot more promotion of the Quick Reads programme for older readers. They too have a fine line-up of books for 2011, including Bloody Valentine by James Patterson, Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones and Tackling Life by Charlie Oatway. Whilst browsing the Quick Reads site, I found a smart looking book Worlds Beyond Words: True Stories About the Power of Literacy, and a lovely video by one of the contributors.


Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes - Guinness World Record attempt

On 1 March 10.30-11.15, across the country people will be coming together to break the record for the largest number of children, parents and carers performing ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’.

In Sheffield where I live, people are assembling in the Peace Gardens in Sheffield City Centre, part of the ESCAL project.

It is happening nationally as part of this years Chatterbox Challenge.

My daughter, Rose, will be there. Unfortunately I won't be. Instead I'll be meeting Reading Matters new Young Embedded Advisor in partnership with Chantry YMCA in Rotherham. It's a pretty exciting project too, but maybe not quite as much fun as a mass 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'!


Useless by Tanya Landman - Barrington Stoke Book 42

Right from the first page there are some great phrases in Useless by Tanya Landman. A phrase like "her lips shut tight as a cat's bum", is going to catch anyone's attention. Just the right level of naughtiness for a reading partnership.

Despite this tone, the book covers some serious issues. Rob's dad left and he blames his Mum. Despite not seeing him for two years, Rob hero worships his departed Dad. So when a new man arrives in the house, he is instantly "the enemy".

I really like books where the reader can't trust everything a character is telling us. I believe it is called an unreliable narrator. It credits the reader with some intelligence as they can read-between-the-lines. I also think it makes the book ideal for discussion and prediction, so again, perfect for a reading partnership.

Rob begins to see sense. He gets to like his Mum's new man, "it was like peace had been declared". And when his Dad arrives on the scene, he gets a deeper understanding.

The tone is jokey, and there are just 40 pages of text and 10 intriguing illustrations. But Useless covers some traumatic themes, including alcoholism, very sensitively.


Watcher by Lee Weatherly - Barrington Stoke Book 41

Watcher is inspired by the by Lee Weatherly's visit to a school to do a writing workshop. I just wanted to take the opportunity to recommend this sort of work. I know a local school here in Sheffield where Bali Rai visited. This was a bit controversial, he is not the most 'politically correct' speaker, but this is exactly his appeal to the children he met.

Meeting authors in this way makes it clear they are just regular people with no super powers. Being a writer or whatever is accessible to anyone with the dedication.

The other benefit of authors visiting schools is new inspiration for books like Watcher.

It is a proper novel with dense chapters that move the story along and builds the tension.

Sarah tells her story, she is bullied and lonely and self-conscious about her weight. This in part due to her mum leaving seven years ago with little explanation. Sarah learns that her mum is living nearby and stalks her for an opportunity for revenge for her departure. This makes her even more moody and temperamental, and affects her relationship with her father and friends. Her behaviour becomes more an more extreme as she seeks to 'break in' to her mum's life.

The book ends quite suddenly after a dramatic resolution. We are left knowing Sarah's future is not going to be easy. But with everything out in the open, it is going to be better.

I know a lot of people will relate to Sarah's tale, feeling let down by her parents affects all aspects of her life, at one point she announces she is "fatter than ever". A modern story for older readers.

Free book on World Book Night

I have been selected to be one of 20,000 givers on the first World Book Night on 5 March 2011.

I’ll have 50 copies of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon to give away. I’ll be giving them out to our wonderful Reading Mentors and School Co-ordinators, to read, share and talk about in school, but I am sure I could find a spare one for you too!

If you would like a free book I will be at Waterstone’s in Orchard Square in Sheffield on the inaugural World Book Night onSaturday 5 March 2011 from 5pm-8pm.

Waterstone's will be staying open later than usual. There will be bands playing and readings taking place to celebrate the night. There is a Costa Coffee on site that will be open too.

You can use Facebook to let me know if you'll be coming, I'll reserve you a book.
It should be fun.


Flint by Chris Powling - Barrington Stoke Book 40

The first thing to say about Flint by Chris Powling is that it is really short, but from page one, you'll be hooked (excuse the bad pirate pun). This is because the action is in full flow when we pick up the story with cabin-boy Edmund and the bosun imprisoned by Flint, the evil pirate chief with a 'snake-like smile'.

The next thing to say is that it is pretty grizzly. Flint flogs to death the captain of Edmund's ship. There is even a picture to back-up the gruesome text.

Third point is the nice terminology, we learn what bilges, bosuns and cat o' nine tails are. The language is pretty fruity too, Edmund feels "as if the Devil himself has just farted in my face'.

The length, less than 50 pages and the blood n' guts and pirate talk, mean Flint will really appeal to blood-thirsty pirate lovers looking for a gripping read.

Edmund learns that he and the bosun are just being kept alive to bury the treasure, after which Flint will kill them, so only he knows the location. They even have to dig their own graves. I hope I don't spoil things by saying that by the end of the story no one is what they seemed at the start.

Death Leap by Simon Chapman - Barrington Stoke Book 39

The Barrington Stoke website describes Death Leap by Simon Chapman like this:
Jake sees a murder and the hitmen are after him. He needs all his biking skills to survive.
And that really is all that happens, it is perhaps the shortest book I have read. The time period covered is a matter of minutes. The website also adds:
Adrenaline-fuelled page-turner.
And that is so true too. The short length and the fact that the action takes place in no time at all, means the story grips from page one and the pace doesn't let up until the end.

The minimal text is supplemented with great pictures of mountain bike action, gunmen and bloody injuries. It is a very simple story, but that is the point, it would be a perfect first book for an older reluctant or struggling reader, or a younger reader looking for a challenging 'older' book.

Reading, Communicating, Mentoring

This week I was at the northern launch of the National Year of Communication - Hello, it was a different audience than I am used to, lots of Speech and Language Therapists and people from Early Years settings such as Children's Centres. There are some good resources on the Hello website if you want more information.

It reminded me about how reading is just once facet of communication, but also what a difference the reading partnerships we help facilitate can make to all aspects of children's lives, a sample quote;
At 11 years old only a fifth of children with significant speech, language and communication needs reach the expected levels for their age in both English and Maths
Another benefit of successful reading partnerships is the supportive relationships they help build. Reading Matters have been working with the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation to really explore this aspect of the reading partnerships.Their Supporting Life's Journeys Campaign is a great way for anyone to sign up to the the cause.


Shhh! - National Day of Action for Libraries

What are you doing this Saturday? Why not pop along to your local libary to support Shhh! - National Day of Action for Libraries.

Look at the Guadian's map for an event near you. I'll be at Sheffield Central Library taking out my quaota of 15 books!

Whether you can make it or not you can get involved in all sorts of ways see the CILIP website (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

There is also a super set of images in support of the campaign by Phil Bradley in the style of World War 2 posters.


Reading Partnerships in Action

Since October 2010 I have been working in a new role, which has meant I have not caught up with our Reading Mentors and Reading Leaders as much as I used to. This week I did get into a few schools to see some reading partnerships in action. It reminded what a great job I have!

It is great to see what a difference the simple half hour reading sessions make, how varied, fun and engaging they are. It is the enthusiasm and positivity of the Reading Mentors at Yewlands School and Reading Leaders at Seven Hills School that really inspires. However, I wanted to share a few of the reading resources the Reading Mentors at Yewlands School and Reading Leaders at Seven Hill School had found for their reading partnerships. In no particular order:
It is quite a list, and reflects the dedication, time and effort our Reading Mentors and Reading Leaders put in.