Harry Potter tops The Wellington College Big Book Vote 2017!

To celebrate World Book Day on Thursday 2nd March 2017  it’s time for the grand unveiling of Wellington College’s Big Book Vote 2017.

Perhaps it isn’t such a big surprise that the Harry Potter series tops the list nevertheless it is fantastic that the series that captured children and adult imaginations everywhere remains incredibly popular. Good to see Michael Grant, our visiting author from last Monday is as popular as ever with his young adult series ‘Gone’ and that Old Wellingtonian Sebastian Faulks makes it into the top 20 with his wonderful wartime novel ‘Birdsong’.

Here is the list of our top 20 most popular books:

1st Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
2nd Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3rd Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell
4th Gone by Michael Grant
5th Cherub by Robert Muchamore
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Looking for Alaska by John Green
One by Sarah Crossan
The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne
The Martian by Andy Weir
Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

We canvassed staff and student opinion about their favourite books of all time through a short survey allowing from 1 – 5 titles to be proposed. It was a completely free vote permitting all genres of book from any time period or location – ranging from children’s picture books to graphic novels, biography to fantasy. This has generated a list of around 660 books!

We counted a series as a single book as people generally voted for a series rather than one of the named individual books. Where deciders were needed we used library issue figures to determine popularity.

We’re looking forward to publicising these popular titles and looking at the list in greater detail –  for example looking at top ten most popular authors, picture books, biographies and so on.

Watch this space for more to come and the full list!

Christmas reading and TV

Christmas Reading TV Guide 2016

It’s arrived –  the eagerly awaited ‘Christmas TV Guide’ compiled by Helen Smith at Eckington School Library. Every year Helen creates her ‘Christmas Reading Times’ scouring Freeview listings to find all TV programmes based on books. This year is a deluxe version with an alphabetical listing of authors and sections giving information on ‘featured authors’ Why not read some of the books before watching the films? The original book is invariably better…but the film adaptations can be great too, especially when they are based on a brilliant story.

I’ve yet to see the film of ‘The Woman in Black’ (I’ve read the book and seen the stage adaptation twice – once here at Wellington and once many years ago at the West End.) I have yet to read ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’  – an  ambitious task before it is shown on TV on 22nd December!

Many of our students mentioned Agatha Christie, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and The Borrowers as comfort reads – all these are available as films on TV this Christmas.

Year 10 and Y11 can watch Nicholas Nickleby,  A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations (Charles Dickens),The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle  and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins to immerse themselves in the setting, language and characters of the 19th Century novel…but read the books first!

If you missed the ‘Paddington’ film when it was at the cinemas you are in for a TV treat.

Happy reading and watching this festive season!

Helen creates this list and puts in a lot of time and effort sharing it freely with other schools and librarians.   If you would like to recognize the work she puts in by donating to her chosen charity, Cancer Research, please do.  There’s absolutely no expectation that you do this, but if you can spare a small amount, every little helps!

Great new diverse reading list for 6th formers! Read around the world

English teacher Ms Kirby has just discovered an excellent new reading list created by The English and Media Centre

Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors: Book List for Sixth Formers and Confident Older Readers

(Image from EMC)

(Image from EMC)

EMC explains: This list has been compiled from texts revisited, discovered and explored while putting together an EMC course last term about teaching diverse literature. It is by no means definitive and apologies in advance for any glaring omissions. In part, this is unavoidable because we have limited each author to one entry…. look out for a companion list later this term, aimed at younger secondary readers.

It includes many books already stocked in the Library and we will be filling any gaps. Amongst the titles are old favourites, such as, ‘Between Shades of Gray’ by Ruta Sepetys which became one of our most popular books when it was shortlisted for the Carnegie Book Award in 2012. We gave the moving and inspirational true story of 10 year old Enaiatollah Akbari’s escape from Afghanistan  ‘In the sea there are crocodiles’ to all our new Y9s to read during the summer before starting at Wellington a few years ago. Many interesting discussions were sparked by this book. The Library also stocks graphic novelsaya book covers including Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and the humorous and enlightening Aya books set in the Ivory Coast.

The list ranges around the world encompassing classics such as ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison and recent Man Booker Shortlisted novels. I’ve always wanted to ‘read around the world’ and this list is a wonderful starting point for that journey of literary discovery! Why not widen your horizons with books set in other countries and cultures and by less mainstream authors?

If you like this idea then visit Ann Morgan’s blog. She set herself the task of ‘A year of reading the world’ This was a remarkable project and started a dialogue with readers and writers all over the world – including more obscure, hard to reach areas!

Of course this list isn’t restricted to 6th formers so when Y10 and Y11 fancy a break from those 19th Century novels try one from this reading list!

Books and reading on the BBC – #LovetoRead campaign this autumn

This autumn it is exciting to see and hear the high profile books and reading are getting on the BBC. This half-term break I properly became aware of the BBC iPlayerRadio and I’m now a huge fan. I’ve been enjoying listening to ‘Book at Bedtime’ on Radio 4 – 15 minute daily instalments of an abridged novel or for example Stephen King’s short story ‘The Cookie Jar’ for Halloween. The iPlayerRadio is a brilliant way of making the most of the diverse and fascinating content on BBC Radio stations at times to suit you and during commutes and journeys.

lovetoread

#LovetoRead: Celebrating the pleasures of reading

Reading is one of life’s greatest joys and can awaken our imagination, inspire and challenge us – not just as children but throughout our lives. That’s why the BBC has launched #LovetoRead, a campaign to celebrate reading. A comprehensive and exciting season of programmes is putting reading centre-stage this autumn. … programmes featuring Sue Townsend, Michael Palin, Marlon James, Willy Russell, Julie Walters, Chris Packham, Suggs, Cerys Matthews, Andrew Marr and many more.

You can browse all the programmes on the theme here and watch and listen to them on BBC iPlayer and radio player.

 

Some highlights suggested below:

One fascinating TV programme on reading was The school that got teens reading

Ripley Academy in Lancaster is the biggest and one of the most successful schools in Lancashire, but despite its outstanding Ofsted report the school can’t get its teenage pupils to engage in one of the most important skills imaginable – reading. It’s a problem secondary schools and parents are facing across the country. Now Ripley are trying something completely new. They have invited actor and comedian Javone Prince to shake things up a bit – and life in school is about to change. With the help of local lass and reading champion Helen Skelton, Javone’s mission is to inspire the school’s most reluctant readers to take the plunge and make reading for pleasure a habit for life. (BBC 2 website)

Radio 4’s ‘A Good Read’ is a great way to introduce yourself to new books. Two guests and the presenter Harriet Gilbert each champions a favourite book which they all read and discuss.(Harriet also hosts a monthly programme World Book Club on the BBC World Service

Paperback Heroes Andrew Marr explores spy novels, detective fiction and the fantasy genre in his series on BBC 4 Cover stories: Sleuths, spies, sorcerers and other paperback heroes

BBC 1 Books that made Britain

The secret life of Sue Townsend (aged 68 3/4) BBC 2 narrated by Julie Walters

Sue Townsend left school at 14 with no qualifications and in her early twenties was a single mother struggling to feed her three children. A decade later, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 was a critical and commercial smash and she had become the best-selling author of her era. (BBC website)

Scotland’s Favourite Books BBC Scotland conducted a public vote in August 2016 in partnership with The Scottish Book Trust and The Scottish Library and Information Council. Viewers choose their top ten from a list of the top 30 chosen by experts.

Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club

Why not sign up for the Authors and books newsletter here for weekly highlights every Thursday?

 

Summer reading feedback from new Y9s – ‘The boy at the top of the mountain’ by John Boyne

 

john-boyne-pcsIt was lovely to receive your postcards with comments on your responses to ‘The boy at the top of the mountain’ by John Boyne. We appreciated the positive feedback and are looking forward to having our book discussion tutorials with all of you as term progresses. This is an opportunity for all our new Y9s to share their views on a book they are read over the summer and to recommend favourite books to their peers.

Here are two insightful reviews:

‘This book is filled to the brim with emotional scenes, touching moments and inspirational messages. Although depressing and dark at times, John Boyne manages to convey a meaningful message of how the people you grow up around can influence your life forever. A similar book to this is ‘The boy in the striped pyjamas’ That book is also based on WWll and the life of a German boy during the war.’

Torsten writes:

‘To Wellington Library,

Powerful, devastating and tragic are the three wors that most strongly come to mind after reading this book. The theme of manipulation scared me and that Pierrot could be controlled and transformed into a different character…..Tragic! A must read!

(I removed a small section to avoid a plot spoiler!)

Fun and fierce competition characterised the Y9 library induction sessions. After a whistle-stop tour around the library our house groups (mixed boys and girls’ houses where possible) had a go at a Kahoot online quiz based on information about the library. We were impressed at how much they’d taken in on a very busy, information rich day!

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From Extreme Reading to Extreme Writing this summer!

This year we are having a change from the past 3 summers of the Extreme Reading Photo Competition. The English Department are challenging you to an Extreme Writing Competition – can you write 300 words about an extreme or unusual place and send in a photo of you in that location?

extreme writing

More information here

Happy reading and writing this summer holiday!

We look forward to reading your extreme writing and always like to hear your reading recommendations and book reviews.

The Big Friendly Read – Summer Reading Challenge 2016

Get down to your local public library this summer and join in the Reading Challenge fun – it’s completely free and anybody can take part.

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged 4 to 11 to read six books during the long summer holiday.

The theme for the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge is The Big Friendly Read

The Challenge launched in Scotland on Saturday 25 June and in England and Wales on Saturday 16 July.

Bracknell Forest Library Service encourage secondary school students to volunteer over the summer – assisting younger children with the reading scheme. More information about it here

Watch a lovely trailer here

I for one can’t wait to see the new BFG film – released in the UK on 22nd July!

 

Now for some non-fiction: Summer reading Part 2

For those of you who want factual books on a range of subjects you could try some of these excellent books:

Fascinating insights and entertaining analysis into the way we use words in David Crystal’s latest book:

The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works

Science:

The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery by Sam Kean (recommended by Dr Evans, Chemistry)

Strange Glow: The story of radiation by Timothy J. Jorgensen

Stuff Matters: The strange stories of the marvellous materials that shape our man-made world – Mark Miodownik

New from Marcus du Sautoy – What we cannot know: Explorations at the edge of knowledge

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

History and Classics:

SPQR by Mary Beard

Twelve years a slave by Solomon Northup

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This is the new book from the author of  The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

 
Law:

 

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!

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