Summer reading suggestions Part 1 – Fiction

I am often asked for suggestions of novels which are particularly accessible and engaging for our new Y9 and  current Y10. Here is a quick list of some titles which have proved popular in the past with our students. Some are so well regarded that they are considered modern young adult or children’s classics such as ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar and ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Philip Pullman (the first book is ‘Northern Lights’)

  • Holes – Louis Sachar
  • Noughts and Crosses series and Pig-Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman
  • My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick (chilling Gothic vampire tale)
  • The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (the original teenage rebel story, a young adult classic which is still readable and relevant today)
  • Pompeii and Archangel by Robert Harris
  • The Chocolate War – Robert Cormier (not for the faint-hearted!)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (short dystopian novel written in 1953 set in a future American society where owning books is illegal and ‘firemen’ are sent to burn any books they discover)
  • Any of John Green’s novels
  • Smart by Kim Slater (for fans of The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon)
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  • The Gone series by Michael Grant
  • The Robert Galbraith(aka J.K. Rowling) detective/murder mysteries
  • Itch books by Simon Mayo (for those interested in action packed adventure stories on a scientific theme.)

‘Boy X’ by Dan Smith and ‘Lifers’ by Martin Griffin are two recently published young adult novels which a number of current Y10 form boys raved about. They recommended ‘Lifers’ for fans of ‘The Maze Runner’ series.

See the reading lists page and reading recommendations for  further recommendations

Happy holiday reading!

Bean bags and creative revision this Summer Term

It’s lovely to see so many students (and the occasional member of staff) enjoying the bean bags on the grass in the Water Library in Princes’ Quad. They are proving popular with students revising – testing each other on exam topics, working on laptops and others just relaxing, taking a break and socialising. One of the benefits has been more space for students doing intensive revision in the Library. Students have developed creative revision habits this year – unprompted they have been using the glass walls of the pods to write revision notes – very effective re-usable white boards! Good luck to everyone with revision and exams.library revision

This week saw the announcement of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 winner. The prize, formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction, was founded in 1996 and celebrates

‘excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world’. It was won by Lisa McInerney with her debut novel Glorious Heresies. The chair of the judges described it as “a superbly original, compassionate novel that delivers insights into the very darkest of lives through humour and skilful storytelling. A fresh new voice and a wonderful winner.” The six shortlisted books are available in the Library – I have much reading to catch up on!

 

New e-books May 2016

new e-books may 2016bDon’t miss the new e-books on the VLebooks platform. Visit the e-Library on SharePoint and use the VLebooks link to read any of the books through your browser or download books to your smartphone or iPad.  Ask the Library staff if you need help setting this up. Be prepared for half-term and stock up with e-books. There’s something for everyone ranging from a number of the Carnegie Shortlisted books to Science non-fiction and books for teachers. You can browse the stock using ‘Library Lists’ to search by category.

The Carnegie Book Award 2016 shadowing takes off!

Carnegie group 2016The Carnegie Book Award Shortlist 2016 has been announced and our Y9 shadowing group members have collected their first books to read over the Easter holidays. It’s a fantastic shortlist this year including ‘The Lie Tree’ by Frances Hardinge; Costa Book of the Year 2015 and much praised and recommended by both librarians here. I thought ‘One’ was amazing and Sarah Crossan’s trademark style of writing in blank verse works well with the subject matter. Tipi and Grace are conjoined teenage twins and each chapter conveys a poetic snapshot of their life.

Read more about the shortlists here  You can watch author and illustrator videos here

Guardian reviews of all the books can be found here

Having multiple copies of the shortlisted books enables a large group of students to read the books simultaneously and provokes heated discussions about the merits and drawbacks of all of them. After the award process is over they become useful sets of contemporary fiction which can be read by tutor groups.

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The 8 shortlisted books are:

One by Sarah Crossan

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Y9 Mini Literature Festival Friday 4th March

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Y9 enjoyed a continuation of the celebrations of books and reading the day after World Book Day with a morning of author talks. We were excited to welcome one of own authors – Virginia Macgregor, twice published author and English teacher here at Wellington. Virginia talked about the inspiration for her novels and read an excerpt from “The astonishing return of Norah Wells”. The students were full of questions and a number of them felt inspired to continue with their own creative writing projects including writing their own novels.

After break we welcomed award-winning young adult author Marcus Sedgwick to the theatre. Y9 were all given a copy of ‘Revolver’ by Marcus to read over the summer before their arrival at Wellington. His books have proved popular with a large number of our students, in particular ‘My Swordhand is singing’ and many of the students have read his Carnegie-shortlisted novel ‘Midwinterblood’. He opened his talk with a debate about the pros and cons of being a writer. He talked about his interest in coincidence and how it became a major theme in ‘She is not invisible’. How many hidden references to the number 354 can you find in the book?

The strong message that came across from both authors was that writing is something they love and can’t do without. They urged the young people to do something they really enjoy with their lives and then it doesn’t feel like work!

World Book Day – 3rd March 2016 – Drop Everything and Read!

World Book Day 3rd March

Next week is a celebratory time for books and reading. Thursday 3rd March is World Book Day and to demonstrate our commitment to reading across the whole school we are running a D.E.A.R. – Drop Everything and Read event. Where possible we are hoping that all staff, including non-teaching staff, and students will stop what they are doing and read a book for sheer enjoyment at the start of lesson 3 on Thursday. So this will be 20 minutes of engrossed silence from 11.15am! All staff and students are welcome to come to the Library at break to stock up on refreshments and choose books or magazines to read. It is wonderful to see people of all ages enjoying reading and provides an opportunity to share favourites and make reading recommendations. For exam sets, teachers may provide subject specific articles or chapters of books for the whole group to read and discuss afterwards – an opportunity for students to be inspired and challenged in a more curriculum-related way. We have The New Scientist Archive Online as well as The Economist, New York Times, History Today, Philosophy Now and Cambridge Companions Online to name but a selection of our electronic resources which enable whole classes to read the same material simultaneously.

Parents, why not talk to your children about what they are reading at the moment and share your favourites with them? If you are looking for suggestions for Y9 –Y11 the Carnegie Book Award longlist has just been announced and includes some impressive contemporary fiction (many of which we have in the Library)

On Friday 4th March the Y9 are in for a literary treat. They are hearing two author talks in the theatre. Wellington English teacher, Virginia Macgregor has recently had her second novel published – The astonishing return of Norah Wells and will be talking to the students about her inspiration for her books and her writing process. Award-winning young adult novelist, Marcus Sedgwick will also be joining us and discussing his books and writing. Y9 read his novel ‘Revolver’ in the summer prior to arriving at Wellington. There will be plenty of opportunity for the students to ask questions.

Happy reading!

‘The Lie Tree’ by Frances Hardinge wins the Costa Book Award 2015

Ms Dahlke writes: 

Congratulations to Frances Hardinge for winning the Costa Book of the Year award for her young adult novel, The Lie Tree. Despite the award being established in 1971, this is only the second time a book for young people has won it. I’m not surprised that it won the overall award, I read it over the summer holidays and have been recommending it to people (of all ages) ever since.

The book is set in Victorian times and begins with Faith, a teenage girl, and her family arriving on an island in order to escape the scandal that engulfed them in London. What was the scandal? And why is her natural scientist father so reluctant to talk about it? Faith is determined to find out.

This book has an original and tightly structured plot, which keeps the suspense going until the very end. Faith – stubborn and spiky, but with a sense of honour that wins out in the end – is a great character. It’s an entertaining read that will also raise questions about the nature of truth and lies. 

I would agree that this is a unique and fascinating novel, appealing to all ages. More information is available in an interesting article from Telegraph books

 

Christmas reading and puzzles 2015

Helen Smith, the librarian at Eckington School has kindly shared her library Christmas Reading Times with us again this year. This is a marvellous publication listing all the Christmas TV based on books. She also reminds us not to miss the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures at 8pm on BBC 4 on Monday 28th, Tuesday 29th and Wednesday 30th December. This year the theme is survival in space and the lectures are presented by Kevin Fong.

Don’t miss the Royal Institution’s space themed online Advent Calendar – A Place called Space  – it includes animations, infographics and archive footage of early space exploration missions. It’s already proving popular with Physics teachers and I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of December brings us.

On the subject of advent calendars have a look at the Book Trust advent calendar 2015 for 24 favourite children’s books. For Maths challenges try the NRICH advent calendar There’s a primary one here for younger children.

For a truly testing brainteaser this Christmas holiday try the GCHQ Christmas puzzle This has been entertaining and infuriating many of our teachers and students over the past few days.

For news junkies you can test your knowledge of the year’s key stories with The Day’s News Mega Quiz

The Y9s have been encouraged to read the same book as the rest of their tutor group and come back and discuss it in January. Here is the list of suggested reads they chose from – 3rd form Christmas books 2015

 

 

 

 

Y9 recommended reads and reading for pleasure at Wellington

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We’ve had a wonderful start to this academic year in terms of seeing a great deal of the new Y9s in the Library. Not only have they been joining us for research sessions during their geography lessons (getting to grips with the wealth of online resources on the e-Library) but they are also coming to us for ‘book chat’ tutorials – sharing their likes and dislikes and recommending books to their peers. This year each tutor group will have a discussion with one of the librarians – starting off with a Kahoot to quiz what they remember about ‘Revolver’ by Marcus Sedgwick (the book they were all given to read over the summer) and another to hear about their responses to it.

Each Y9 class is having a one hour session in the Library every fortnight providing the opportunity to choose books freely, bring books or e-readers from home, recommend books for new stock and where multiple copies exist read the same book as friends so that they can discuss it afterwards. We are particularly encouraging the pupils to try different types of books and are currently developing our collection of graphic novels – both in size and range. We now have our first Manga and comic books and graphic novels on topics in history such as Palestine by Joe Sacco and Barefoot Gen: a cartoon story of Hiroshima. Author Sarah Crossan did an excellent presentation on verse novels at a librarians’ conference and we have a small collection of free verse novels – an unusual form but surprisingly compelling as well as generally quick to read.

It has been incredibly encouraging to see how enthusiastically the new students have shared their favourite books and at the same time how honest others have been about not being ‘readers’. We have a hugely supportive staff who share their reading recommendations through posters on their classroom doors, the loan of books and chatting to students. Here is a blog post by an American school librarian that I wholeheartedly agree with:  Learning to read alone is not enough. Your students need a reading champion. 

Let’s hope we can keep this reading momentum as they progress up the school!

Here are some of the Y9 student suggestions (many more to come!)

Y9 Orange Book Recommendations

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz (this was the first official new Sherlock Holmes mystery)

Before I Die – Jenny Downham

Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge

My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult

The secrets we keep – Jonathan Harvey

An island of our own – Sally Nicholls

The London Eye mystery – Siobhan Dowd

Cherub series by Robert Muchamore

We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver

The Leopard – Jo Nesbo (and any of his crime novels!)

It’s kind of a funny story – Ned Vizzini

We all looked up – Tommy Wallach (the story of an asteroid on a potential collision course with Earth as told from the alternating viewpoints of four high school students.)

Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom (on the Wellbeing Top Ten Reads list)

Mum, can you lend me twenty quid? – Elizabeth Burton-Phillips (subtitled: What drugs did to my family)

Archangel – Robert Harris

An officer and a spy – Robert Harris

Y9 Picton – recommended reads:

Noughts and Crosses series – Malorie Blackman

My swordhand is singing – Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinter Blood – Marcus Sedgwick

Paper Towns – John Green

Alex Rider series

Holes – Louis Sachar

Journey’s End – R.C. Sherriff

Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time – Mark Haddon

Pig-heart Boy – Malorie Blackman

Tell me no lies – Malorie Blackman

Any and all of John Green’s books

‘If you haven’t read the whole of the Harry Potter series you haven’t lived’ Lucas

See more pupil book reviews here

reading lesson

 

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