Reading Challenge 2015 – Join our Reading Bingo!

As a fun challenge to encourage us all to try new books, genres, formats for 2015 we’ve adopted Random House Canada’s reading bingo challenge from image

All are welcome to pick up a bingo card in the Library and start making a line. The ultimate challenge is to read 25 books by the end of the Summer Term or by the end of December 2015. The Hopetoun Y9 girls had a session in the Library during tutorial on Monday and enthusiastically took up our challenge.

We’re looking forward to hearing about all your reading choices and are hoping to make a huge bingo card to display all the books read as post it notes on all the squares.

I read ’13 reasons why’ by Jay Asher at the very end of 2014 so sadly can’t use this amazing book as my “Book with a number in the title” for this year. However, I read ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters (highly recommended and beautifully written – a literary page turner) and it was 560 pages so that qualifies for the top left square. I’ve just completed the wonderful ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi. This book is one of a kind  – the biography of Marj growing up as a young girl in Iran told as a graphic novel. Her strong, defiant character is powerfully portrayed along with her humour. As well as a personal coming of age story it is incredibly informative about life in Iran from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.



Christmas Holiday Reading recommendations – Staff picks from 2014

Books of the Year 2014 and holiday recommendations

I’ve been canvassing opinion for some of the favourite books read or published this year. Here is the eclectic mix of choices from some of our teachers and the Library staff.

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban –  Malala Yousafzai

Ms Atherton The things they carried – Tim O’Brien. This book was recommended to me some years ago and I finally read it over the summer. It is an incredible book – both a novel and collection of inter-linked stories of the men in a platoon in the Vietnam War. It is a fictional account but the  author based it on his own experiences of the Vietnam War. The detail and experiences of the soldiers feel so real and the book has become a powerful anti-war classic.

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

We were liars – E. Lockhart

Dr Williams recommends the crime fiction of Canadian writer Louise Penny

Lewis Dartnell has written a book this year entitled The Knowledge: How to rebuild our world from scratch

It has been described  by The Guardian as “A terrifically engrossing History of Science and Technology” and by Nature journal as “The Ultimate do-it-yourself guide to ‘rebooting’ human civilisation”

What Milo Saw – Virginia Macgregor

Mr Hendrick – Stoner by John Williams, Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Mr Atherton (Maths) Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre – The fascinating true spy story that changed the course of World War II

Dr Rosen (Biology) told us that he is working his way through  the free classics on his Kindle! One he found amazing was The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. An epic exploration of the human psyche.

Ms Wright(Library Assistant) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys This proved a hugely popular book when it was on the Carnegie Shortlist in 2012. It is a moving account of a Lithuanian family’s arrest and deportation to Siberia following the Russian occupation of their country during World War II. See a pupil’s review here

Mrs Wayman – A Tale for the Time being by Ruth Ozeki and  The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Man Booker Prize Winner 2014)



Booker Prize Announcement 2014 and holiday reading suggestions

Holiday Reading

flanagan cover image

On Tuesday 14th October the Booker Prize winner was announced. This year marked the first time non-Commonwealth writers were eligible for the prize. Contrary to the fears of an American takeover it was won by Australian writer Richard Flanagan with his book ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’. The novel recounts the experiences of a fictional surgeon in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on the Thailand-Burma railway. Flanagan’s father was a Japanese prisoner of war in a camp on the Thailand-Burma railway and Flanagan felt compelled to write the book – in fact it took him 12 years and five versions to finish it. Read more about it here and have a browse of the other shortlisted titles. Another brilliant book on this harrowing subject is ‘The Railway Man’ by Eric Lomax. This is a first-hand account of the ordeal of being a prisoner on the Thailand-Burma railway (made into a film in 2013). If this is too much misery I am assured that Booker Shortlisted title ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ by Karen Jay Fowler is “hilarious and heartbreaking” so definitely some humour amidst the sadness.

For non-fiction and subject specific suggestions don’t forget the Top 10 Books and for more fiction suggestions try Tom Wayman’s Wellington 100 and Middle School Reading List

Extreme Reading Photo Competition Winners – Summer 2014

Extreme Reading Photo Competition Winners 

This year our new photographer and designer, Josh Moses, had the tough task of judging the ‘Extreme Reading Competition’. This was done anonymously of course. We were inundated with amazing and creative photos and want to thank all of you for taking part. Look out for the display of all the entries on the panels outside the library and full list of runners up and highly commended.

KC cycling extreme photoMany congratulations to the winners: 

Wellington College Students

1st – Katya (cycling in the rain in Moscow)

2nd – Dominic (accidental scientist explosion)

3rd – Olly  (cave in cliffs)

4th – Posy (in the Blue Cave in Croatia)


Highly commended:

Will , 9Bd (feeding an elephant)

Thomas  9R (in a dragon statue)

Jamie, 9S (jumping off a sea wall)

Jasmine , 9Ap (swinging off a tower)

Felix , 9Bd (reading the Outsiders on a water ski)

Charlie, 9Bl (backflip off a boat)

Drew , 9Hl (reading on Inferno rollercoaster)

Noah , 9Bd (Land’s end sign)

Eve , 9W (on a post in a lake)

William, 9L (mountain bike)

Kitty, 9C (The Pyranees)

Harry , 9Bn (waterskiing reading ‘Diplomatic Immunity)

Nils(top of mast)

Louis  (reading with a dolphin)

Eagle House Students

1st – George, Eagle House 7 (on castle ruins)

2nd – Olly, Eagle House (set of three photos of canoe going over rapids)

3rd – Ben, Eagle House (in the stocks)

4th – Sophia, Eagle House (long jump)

Librarians’ choice award – Sofia (The Diamond Heist)


Winner – Mr Allcock (Head of Classics) on top of the Old Man of Hoy

old man of hoygb extreme reading

Don’t forget the Extreme Reading Photo Competition!

Slack-line reading in France

Slack-line reading in France

The Summer Holiday Extreme Reading Photo Competition is back by popular demand!

Take a photo of yourself reading in an “extreme” place. Be as creative or imaginative as you like (without putting yourself in danger!)  You could win an e-reader.

Encourage your  families to join in!

Email your photos to the Library: before 8th September.












outsiders cover

If you are looking for an exciting and thought-provoking read for the summer try The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

All the new 3rd form will receive a copy of this excellent book from the Librarians. Let’s make it the Wellington Summer Read!

It’s a coming of age story of gangs in the USA, written by a 17 year old girl. It is brilliantly written, has appeal for all ages and doesn’t take long to read.

Read the book and take the brief online book quiz in September. Prizes for the House with the most readers.

You could combine it with the Extreme reading photo competition and read it in an unusual or exotic location.

Two book recommendations – I’ve finally got around to reading ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury and ‘The things they carried’ by Tim O’Brien this summer. Both books are incredible. Ray Bradbury wrote his disturbing, futuristic story in 1953. His first version of the novel took him 9 days to write and he often wrote on hired typewriters in public libraries. In his dystopian world the job of firemen is to burn books as they are forbidden, being deemed the source of all unhappiness.

‘The things they carried’ is a book of short stories linked together through the young US soldiers whose experiences shape the stories. It is a fictional account of the Vietnam war narrated by a veteran. The writing is haunting and disturbing and it has become a classic anti-war book.


More reading suggestions and book lists

Avid readers and pupils keen to read a wide range of styles and genres this summer have a look at Mr Wayman’s Middle School Reading List. There is something for everyone here, from incoming 3rd form to U6th in fact. How many of the books have your parents read? Fahrenheit 451 is on my “to be read” pile!

Mr Wayman also includes some excellent advice on how to choose the ideal book for you.

Don’t forget to re-visit the Wellington Top Ten reads, chosen by the academic departments and designed to help you extend your subject specific reading. The lists are structured so that the first book is the most accessible to younger pupils and the final book the most challenging.

A reminder of a stylish website which is a fantastic source of reading suggestions – Five Books.

Five Books asks authors and experts to recommend the best books in their subject. In an interview they then discuss why the books are important and what they are about. You can browse by topic or interview or search for a particular book or author/expert. It covers a huge range of subjects range from Espionage to The Mind and Comedy to How to Be Good.

Try Tom Holland on Ancient Rome, Jo Nesbo on Norwegian Crime Writing or Marcus du Sautoy on The Beauty of Maths. There’s a whole section on Being a Parent and plenty of Fiction suggestions too. Definitely something for everyone on this very attractive website.

Happy Reading!

Here’s a fun infographic proposing routes to finding the perfect book.

summer reading

Summer reading suggestions and Extreme Reading Photo Competition 2014

The Summer Holiday Extreme Reading photo competition is back by popular demand

4th Prize to our Scottish mountain Extreme Reader. Pictured reading '101 Ideas that Changed the World'

4th Prize to our Scottish mountain Extreme Reader. Pictured reading ‘101 Ideas that Changed the World’

Take a photo of yourself reading in an “extreme” place. Be as creative or imaginative as you like (without putting yourself in danger!)  You could win an e-reader.

Encourage your  families to join in. You could combine it with the ‘Extreme Reading Photo Competition’ and read the book in an exotic or unusual place.

Email your photos to the Library: before 8th September.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton outsiders cover

If you are looking for an exciting and thought-provoking read for the summer try The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

All the new 3rd form will receive a copy of this excellent book from the Librarians. Let’s make it the Wellington Summer Read!

It’s a coming of age story of gangs in the USA, written by a 17 year old girl. It is brilliantly written, has appeal for all ages and doesn’t take long to read.

Read the book and take the  brief online book quiz in September. Prizes for the House with the most readers.

Holiday Reading – Library recommendations

I love having the time to read during the summer – my “to be read” pile is large and varied, including Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Don’t forget to look at the Top Ten reads for suggestions of subject specific books and Mr Wayman’s Wellington English100 for an eclectic mix of classic literature and modern fiction.

Fiction fans are in for a treat on 31st July with the publication of “What Milo Saw”; the first novel  by Wellington English teacher, Virginia Macgregor.milo cover

I feel privileged to have been able to read this touching book in advance of publication. It tells the story of Milo Moon, a young boy suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, who sees the world through a pinhole. He sets out to expose the problems at his gran’s nursing home (accompanied by Hamlet, his pet pig). The story is peopled with a wonderful mix of flawed but interesting characters. There is plenty of humour amidst the adversity and Milo is a hugely appealing protagonist.  Although intended for adults, the book “will be adored by fans of child-narrated fiction like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and Wonder” but for me it had parallels with Frank Cottrell Boyce’s ‘Millions’ and an arch-villain reminiscent of Miss Trunchbull in Matilda. It’s quirky, thought-provoking with big themes and an entertaining  plot. This beautifully written book stayed with me a long time after the first reading – but I’m looking forward to re-reading it, discussing it with my friends and family and seeing the final published version.

WC Advertising – Carnegie Book Openings

I’m constantly trying to spread the word about great new books in the library and I hit upon free advertising space in the ladies’ loos. To promote shortlisted Carnegie titles we created laminated A4 posters displaying the book cover image and the opening page. These were placed on the toilet doors. Apart from brightening up the place they have had the desired effect of directing people to the library to borrow the books, intrigued to know more.  I am ridiculously pleased that three copies of ‘Rooftoppers’ and two of ‘Blood Family’ have been borrowed by our wonderful support staff.   A number of staff have commented on how much they like the idea and enjoy reading about books they wouldn’t normally discover. Two 6th form girls have borrowed the books too having read the opening pages. No sign of any men borrowing these books yet although my male helpers insist they did put the posters up in the mens!

Teaching and support staff  get ready for the Summer YA Challenge – more information soon.

Pupils get ready for more book openings on toilet doors and a brilliant summer read coming your way.

I’m already looking forward to National Poetry Day on 2nd October 2014 so we can do ‘WC Poetry’!

all the truth openingrooftoppersbunker opening

‘Enquiring Minds’ – Conference Feedback (CILIP School Libraries Group Conference 2014)

The CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals)  School Libraries Group Conference in April was an excellent opportunity for professional learning. The programme was varied and inspiring and the opportunity to share ideas with school librarians from a wide range of different schools invaluable.

Here is a presentation on the Conference delivered by Sue Bastone, Conference Programme Director and Head of Learning Resources at LVS Ascot, to the Rugby Group Librarians at their recent meeting.

Here are some brief thoughts on the key messages I took away from the conference:

  • Importance of reading aloud. Teachers and librarians should increase the times they read out loud to pupils. It’s also important for pupils to read out loud to each other. I took the opportunity to read an excerpt from ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’ to a 3rd form tutor group during a discussion on diary reading and writing last Saturday. It was not something they knew but they seemed to enjoy it and we had a lively discussion. They will be submitting 12th May Diaries to the Mass Observation Archive.
  • Illustrators. We had two fascinating talks by book illustrators about their work. Jim Kay showed us how he created the brilliant illustrations in “A Monster Calls” and talked about how pictures can be a  good way of taking in information and remembering things for people like him. Something that came across strongly was an illustrator’s striving for perfection and never being content with their work. I’m keen to invite book illustrators to come and talk to our Art students and also to Shadow the Greenaway Book Award (awarded for illustration).
  • All schools should have a reading for pleasure policy. Pupils should be reading widely and often for pleasure and information was one of the key messages of Patricia Metham’s presentation. Patricia is the Lead Inspector for English for OFSTED. Her inspiring talk emphasized the importance of school libraries and librarians to English and literacy levels. She also stated that librarians should be involved in curriculum committees and planning.
  • School library award: Warwickshire School Library Service are doing excellent work in the area of school library self-assessment. Their pilot scheme enables school libraries to audit their services  and obtain 3 different levels of awards. (Librarians assess a range of criteria on 3 levels: Developing, Establishing or Enhancing). This is something I would like to follow up at Wellington.
  • Connell Guides  As a direct result of the Conference the Library now has a full set of the Connell Guides to English Literature.  These attractive, well-written, pocket size books are extremely useful to students of English. The online content accessed via the e-library contains additional material such as essays and quizzes. 

Lucy Atherton, Senior Librarian, Wellington College