Icy inspiration from Matt Dickinson

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Second time around for us, and so we knew what to expect from a Matt Dickinson event. With the success of his visit to us two years ago, we planned talks to Y7 and Y8 in our main hall so that all students could benefit from his tales of climbing Everest and sailing to the Antarctic. Matt knows exactly what will appeal to this age group and held the students enthralled with true stories and a few tall tales! Students had the opportunity to add their own opinions and to ask questions. At the end of the events we had sold over 130 books and have had to order more to satisfy demand for The Everest Files and Mortal Chaos. There was also a lot of interest for Lie Kill Walk Away, Matt’s latest title which was actually released the day he visited.

A lucky Y8 English class came to the Library for a Writing Workshop with the author, who encouraged them to add detail to their emotions, characters and descriptions. Some beautifully descriptive work came out of the session heavily influenced by Matt’s travels.

At lunchtime we held our usual literary picnic for our visiting author, with six Y7 students who wrote asking to come because they enjoyed reading, wished to meet an author or were interested in film making.

Today staff and students are still buzzing – what a lovely atmosphere for a Friday! Here are some of the things they have been saying:

I liked the bit when Matt joked about the brain! I think he was very funny but serious at the same time. I had a great time and he’s a lovely guy.           Zack Y7

The visit from Matt Dickinson was amazing. I felt as if I was at Everest and I was pursuing my dream. I hope other people felt like this too.     Lauren Y7

I thought it was amazing! My favourite part was when he was telling about buying Toffee Crisps which exploded! I bought his new book, Lie Kill Walk Away and am about 10 pages through and I already love it.   Charlie Y7

Climbing up Everest looked and sounded absolutely thrilling yet at the same time, terrifying. His presentation showed how even through struggles, you can achieve your dreams.     Anya Y7

Matt really inspired me to be a filmer because I would like to travel the world. I got the Everest Files and am really enjoying it.     Jake Y8

The part I most enjoyed was the video of him reaching the top of Mount Everest! Matt was really nice when we met him to sign our books. I got Lie Kill Walk Away which is very graphic and detailed, with an amazing story line with loads of plot twists. I want to say thank you to all the librarians for organising this event because it must have been a lot of work! Thank you!                Katie Y7 

Wow, I’ve been Googling him! What an amazing man!     Mr Blakey  Maths teacher

I only got to hear the last 5 minutes. Make sure I can come to listen to it all next year.                    Mrs Byrne   Modern Languages

All in all, we had a great day and Matt complimented our students for their attention and enthusiasm.  The Library Ladiez would like to thank everyone on the staff who helped them run everything smoothly – Toffee crisp rewards are on their way!

Summer time…..and the reading is easy!

Sounds like a song!!

Easy, because we all have the time to wallow in books of our choice. Not necessarily easy, but something we can engage with, enjoy and maybe learn from.

At this time of year The Library Ladiez are regularly asked for Summer Read suggestions by students and staff. Rather than compile the kind of Top 10 lists you see in the press we thought we would point you in the direction of books shortlisted for awards this year. The variety of titles highlighted is plentiful and wide and each chosen by different kinds of judging panels. There should be something for everyone here.

Year 7 students have been doing some fantastic reading in their Library Lessons, and at home. We have compiled a list of their favourites, and a few that we would like to recommend.

Summer read cover

Summer Reading for Y7s 2016

Children's book award

The Children’s Book Award 2016 has some great titles on their shortlist. Scroll down for those suitable for Younger and Older Readers, all chosen by young readers themselves:



Our Carnegie Reading Group (made up of 34 keen readers from Y7-10) relished the titles on this year’s Carnegie Book Award shortlist of books vying for the award for the best written book of the year. The adult Judges chose the author Sarah Crossan for her elliptical novel written in free verse about conjoined teenage twins, One, but we (along with Churchill Academy students) proclaimed The Lies we tell ourselves by Robin Talley our winner. This story is set during 1959 in Virginia where the lives of two girls attending the same school for the first time. They are on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights but their lives will be changed forever.

Imogen,Y9 reviewed it saying:  “I loved this book it had me hooked right from the start. The plot was interesting enough to keep you reading with well-built characters who I thought were realistic. There was a fair few plot twists, a few of which took me completely by surprise! I enjoyed the ending because although it did work out well there was still things that weren’t perfect which is like real life. I would definitely recommend this book!”

To see the shortlisted titles which were all strong contenders, take a look at:


YA award

For older teenagers, the YA Book Prize with its edgy, thought provoking titles is a good place to look:


Stan lee excelsior

For Graphic novel fans, try checking out this year’s Stan Lee Excelsior Award shortlist. For the first time this year, we bought the books ahead of the award announcement and our lunchtime readers looked them over and helped out with the voting:


barrington s tints

Barrington Stokes Tints – ereader editions of stories for dyslexic readers

Barrington Stokes publish titles for the children with dyslexia who struggle with bright white or see-through paper. Their books are also suitable for readers who haven’t built up the reading stamina yet to manage complex language structures and non-linear plots. And of course this makes them appeal to those who love their gaming, their friends or football more than reading and really don’t want to sit down to seven hundred pages.

Their latest development is in the field of e-reading and their app Tints provides on-­screen, dyslexia-­friendly fiction written by best-­selling authors for students with reading ages 7 and 8. The app uses their unique dyslexia­-friendly layout plus a range of coloured page tints and a sliding ruler to provide reading support. Sample chapters and content for parents are free and full books are priced at the same level as the print editions. To find out more, follow this link:


And lastly, don’t forget the links in the right hand box of the blog, to reviewing websites for young people which will have plenty of other suggestions.

As for Mrs Gibson’s Summer To-read pile, check out her Good Reads, also to the right of this!






The People’s Carnegie

This is the school’s 15th year shadowing the Carnegie Book Award given by CILIP for the best written book published in the UK during the past year. And we were pleased to see such a varied and accessible list of titles:


After a swelling of numbers last year, our turnout to most meetings has continued to be healthy whilst we have all been reading the 8 books shortlisted this year, with an enthusiastic new contingent from Y7. Eventually 22 students made it to the end, having read 5 or more of the shortlisted titles which qualified them to join our Carnegie Lunch Day with our partner group from Churchill Academy.


Carnegie Reading Group 2016

We usually share the Medal Day on the actual day of announcement from the adult judges. However this year, due to various reasons, we had to postpone our event until a couple of weeks later. Although we all knew the winner, this did not dampen our fighting spirit and we concentrated on OUR views (which are frequently different to the adult judges anyway!)

So, for The People’s Carnegie Day, we shared a morning of activities based on Truth & Lies (3 of the books had lies in the title and themes) and of course, The Big Quiz which tested teams to the limit.

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We broke for lunch with the traditional highlight being the literary cakes baked by the visiting team, and were not disappointed! See if you can guess which books they are all based on:

This was followed by the Great Debate which this year included EVERY student’s comments. We divided them into small teams and each had to provide a short argument for or against a book winning the award. Students told us later they preferred this to a general discussion which tends to be dominated by the fearless and sweeps over less popular books. Group leaders from both schools were impressed with the imaginative and articulate presentations.

We finished with a vote and the title winning over the most students was The Lies we tell ourselves by Robin Talley which won the the Amnesty CILIP Honour, awarded to the author  that most distinctively illuminates, communicates, or celebrates our personal rights and freedoms.


In case you are wondering, and haven’t heard, the overall winner as judged by the CILIP panel was One, a novel about conjoined twins, written in free verse, by Sarah Crossan


Yr 9 Avoiding Trouble with Non Pratt

It took a while to finalize dates and events with the new writer on the block, Non Pratt, but so worth it! She came into school on Wednesday after a 5.15am start from Enfield and worked with our Y9 students non stop until the end of school.

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We ran 2 workshops in the morning for selected students, on Character building and Devilish dialogue – and the Library Ladiez think they were our most successful ones to date. Non came well prepared to deliver 1hr 20 minute lessons with pace, humour and plenty of feedback. All students eagerly participated in describing characters from popular culture (from Dora the Explorer to Cat Woman) and reading aloud from their work to collect positive and constructive feedback from Non. The dialogue students worked on creating interesting and insightful words that might have been spoken by Hansel & Gretel – with the help of a Norwegian badger (but that is another story!).

Great fun! The activities were good and got you thinking very easily.      Ben & Rowan

I was expecting someone trying to make an aspect of writing I thought boring, sound fun in a cheesy over-excited manner but Non wasn’t like that at all. She made everything sound interesting, even fairy tales.        Helen

I really enjoyed the workshop! Non made even the simplest things seem exciting. She was hilarious and all the activities were very interesting. The time flew by and I wish it could have been longer.       Amber

We invited some keen readers and writers to a picnic lunch with a couple of English teachers and our Library Link Governor before taking over the 6th form theatre – for Non to present a thought provoking show about Gender stereotypes in popular culture to 150 English students.

Non was very engaging and the issues she talked about were relevant. She used points that were correct and persuasive. she made you think.      Molly

The talk that Non gave was really interesting because I didn’t realise how much women are stereotyped and put into passive roles in films and books. I really enjoyed the talk and it made me think.      Becky

Totally rad.        Anon

The talk made us think about how girls don’t get as much credit/opportunity and Non addressed it to the right audience.    Lucy, Chelsea & James


Find more words and information from Non at https://authorallsorts.wordpress.com/non-pratt/


Thank you Non, for stirring us up for the day. We now have waiting lists for you books!

1340 books recorded for Read for my school

So, Read for my school has finished after 4 months of reading and logging for our Y7s. The final total was 1340 books, mostly read in print but a few digital too. The winners are 7Q3 seen here with their trophy:


Archie, Grace, Lily, Ruby and Olivia all read a good deal and took the trouble to log their book titles throughout the period. The tutor group as a whole won a special lesson, with free reading and a video of the graphic novel authors, The Etherington Brothers at the Hay Festival – along with a few sweeties! 7Q1 will also experience this as their tutor group had the most students recording their reading.

Overall the tallies look like this:

Running total

And there are individual winners to be rewarded in each tutor group.

This was a new initiative with Y7 in our continuing search for ways to challenge and encourage our younger readers. And one, the Library Ladiez feel is not worth running again. We had heard of other schools in the area using the on-line competition (www.readformyschool.co.uk) with librarians keen to use the administration offered by the website and have their students record their own reading. Problems we discovered were too many to make this worthwhile in the future:

  • Although the website sign-up was set as homework, it took some students a long time to do so. And the Sign-up process was not very user-friendly
  • Students had to be responsible for their own reading records and register their books in their own time at home or in school during break. Most did in January and February but only a few continued throughout the 4 month period.
  • We suspect a number of students just recorded all the books on their bedroom bookshelf, without using the library to try new authors and titles!
  • Only a few tried out the digital reads, and obviously had difficulty in choosing texts suitable for their reading ability. Year 7s can be rather canny, clicking their way through the pages in a number of minutes in order to be able to click “Complete”!

We think Read for my school is a great activity, but probably one more suited to Primary classes, where the teacher has constant contact and input with their students. The automatic records and statistics are great (which is how we know about the rapid digital reading!) and so time-saving, but only if students remain enthusiastic and are entirely truthful when recording.

So, onwards and upwards – watch this space next January, when we try something new and probably more home-grown.

In the meantime we will be encouraging our readers to fill out their Reading passport Bingo Cards over the next few months, which will hopefully add some quality to the quantity. Maybe even set it up as a challenge for each tutor group with students working on different books/squares. There should be something for everyone.

Bingo card


The Day After

The Day After, is probably a life experience our 6th formers are dealing with in many ways, but today it was all about celebrating World Book Night which was actually on Saturday 23rd April, Will Shakespeare’s birthday!

Books list

Mrs Atkins (our cover administrator) and Mr Pritchard from Science successfully applied to give books from the list (Band of Brother, Too good to be true & Last bus to Coffeeville)


Several staff from the Admin Team and Teaching Staff generously gifted a book, from their own book shelves, which they thought would interest a 6th form student. These we packaged up with labels from the teachers:

So, we had about 6o books to offer our hard working students; something to help them relax for a while during their exam period.


Interestingly, the individually packaged books were the first to be devoured, so we must try this again next year.






Fantastic Book Fair

We have had an amazing week with the Scholastic Book Fair ensconced in the Library Reading Room.


All Y7-9 classes have been in to view while collecting their World Book Day £1 vouchers, and we have been open every lunchtime with our trusty shop assistants (recruited from the Carnegie Reading Group)


It is great to see everyone so excited about new books (thought it might just be the Library Ladiez who liked that new-book-smell!)

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By Friday afternoon our takings had rocketed up to £1400! We have begun taking out books on commission already, along with students from Education Support!

We would like to send out HUGE THANKS to all who supported us and

HAPPY READING over the weekend.