Warwickshire Schools Library Service Supporting reading and learning in schools
September 2019

Reading Promotions

Year 4 Reading Celebration 2020!


Following another successful Year 4 Reading Celebration in 2019, we are delighted to offer this again in 2020 in partnership with Warwickshire’s public library service (#Y4RC20).

This is a lovely way to celebrate reading and support Government objectives and your own work encouraging reading for pleasure in school. We hope to inspire young pupils to enjoy reading and to use their school and local libraries.

Participating pupils will be asked to borrow and read any four books from their local library and record their thoughts in a specially designed Reading Log, which will be sent to schools in January 2020. There will be a class challenge in response to their reading and the school will select a team of four pupils to attend the Final Celebration Event that will take place in March 2020 at a Warwickshire Library in your area (please see the dates below). Your school will need to be able to send a team to the relevant area Final Celebration Event as outlined below. The teams will bring with them the class challenge work that the whole class has completed, and this will be part of the competition at the final event. Teams will take part in activities, such as book-related quizzes in a fun atmosphere and compete against other schools in the County. The winning team will be given a trophy to keep and display at school and each team member will receive a Star Reader medal and goody bag.  All participating Year 4 pupils will also receive a certificate.
To sign-up please fill in the online form.
Please email angelaedwards@warwickshire.gov.uk for more information.

Year 4 Reading Celebration 2019!


We had another successful Y4RC this year. Schools from across Warwickshire attended our Final Celebration events at Nuneaton, Lillington, Stratford and Warwick public libraries. Schools took part in fun book related quizzes and winning schools took home a trophy for their school and individual medals and goodie bags.

As part of the Y4RC19, schools were asked (as a class) to prepare a Creative Response. This year the theme was Shakespeare and the schools' team of 4 pupils brought their Creative Responses to the Final Celebrations and presented these to the other schools. We were really impressed with all the hard work that had clearly gone into this work. The pictures below show just a few of the wonderful pieces of work that were created...


Warwickshire Libraries Fantastic Fun With Words 2019!

Is your school in Warwickshire?
Then you could bring a school group to Warwickshire Libraries' eleventh Fantastic Fun With Words Festival this autumn!
Every day of the week of Monday 14th to Friday 18th October and Monday 21st to Friday 25th October 2019 seven wonderful writers will be in libraries across our county, ready to meet and inspire pupils from Years 3 to 12. 

You choose a morning or afternoon session. Either of these can be up to 90 minutes time in total and can be a whole session with one group or split into two 45-minute sessions for two groups.  A small charge of £75 per total 90-minute session is payable (£60 for schools who subscribe to Warwickshire School Library Service), although it may be possible in some cases for charges to be reduced further.

How to book
Please complete our online Booking Form by Friday 14th June 2019.
Final details of your visit will then be confirmed to you before the end of the summer term. The form will ask for your preferences for library and some options on dates. Please be as flexible as possible so that we can meet the wishes of as many schools as possible.

Watch the film below and read the details of all of the authors involved:

Ben Davis:
Suitable for: Years 3 - 12
Ben DaviesBen Davis writes funny books for older children and teenagers. His first book,The Private Blog of Joe Cowley series has been hailed as a Wimpy Kid for a new generation. Ben Davies JacketHe has also written standalone books for younger readers, like the super villain tale, Danny Dread, and the critically acclaimed My Embarrassing Dad's Gone Viral.

Here’s what Ben says about his work with schools…
I begin with a talk about how I use real life experience of my own embarrassing family members, followed by readings from my books which demonstrate that. Then, I lead an interactive activity where we create our own embarrassing family member characters as a group, and come up with story ideas for them.

What Pupils Will Take Away From The Session…
Pupils will come away with a deeper understanding of how to put together memorable characters and plots.  They will also gain insight into how they can turn their own real-life experiences into fiction.  Above all, they should come away feeling that writing can be fun.

Ann Evans:
Suitable for Years 4 - 12
FFWW Ann Evans PhotoAnn Evans is a multi-published, award-winning author and feature writer. She has over 30 books published to date. She writes for children, young adults and reluctant teenage readers, as well as books for grown-ups. She also writes non-fiction on a wide variety of topics from animals to toys for various magazines.  She is also a former feature writer for the Coventry Telegraph.
She loves to help budding writers to improve their writing skills. She runs workshops in and out of school for children and adults. Ann particularly enjoys writing thrillers and finds that the majority of her books for young people are mysteries, often with a touch of the supernatural or a ghostly element to them – or occasionally, a bit of horror! The start of 2019 saw her reluctant reader book, A Little Secret, published by Badger Learning winning the Rapid Reads category in the 2019 Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. The book is also short listed in the Reading Rampage 2019 – Leicester’s Secondary School Book Award. Winners announced in June. She is a member of a number of societies: The Society of Women Writers & Journalists; The National Association of Writers in Education; The Crime Writers’ Association, The Romantic Novelists’ Association and she is vice chair of the Coventry Writers’ Group.

Here’s what Ann says about her work with schools …
I love working with school groups to talk about books, stories and writing. My talks and workshops can be geared specifically to what the class teacher wants, such as character and plot development, writing great dialogue, editing and polishing etc. I talk about my own journey to becoming a published writer – which is an exercise in perseverance! I talk about how an idea can develop into a story or even a book. My talks are interactive with the children being free to chip in with comments and questions. I tend to have a display of some of my published books with me as well as an actual manuscript. There’s an opportunity for Q & A, and I always read an exciting extract or two. Writing workshops for children 7 and upwards, focus on one particular aspect of writing, which always results in great pieces being written.

What pupils will take away from the session…
The children come away inspired to write, confident in their own abilities and loving reading and writing even more. They also come away understanding the process of writing stories and how books are made.

Liz Hyder:
Suitable for Years 8 - 9:
Liz HyderLiz Hyder’s debut young adult novel Bearmouth is published by Pushkin Press in hardback in September 2019. Winner of the 2018 Moniack Mhor Emerging Writer Award, Liz is also an experienced creative writing workshop leader. She trained with Spread the Word in London to run creative writing workshops, and has been leading Writing West Midlands’ young writers group, Spark, in Shrewsbury, since 2016  She has run workshops everywhere from schools and mosques to libraries. In 2016 Liz co-founded The Wordshoppers with poet Jean Atkin to offer a range of interactive and fun creative workshops for all ages  She is a member of NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) and of Writing West Midlands’ Room 204 development scheme for writers. A past member of the National Youth Theatre, she has a BA in Drama from the University of Bristol and is on the board of Wales Arts Review. 

What a creative session with Liz will involve…
Liz’s sessions for Years 8-9 involve a creative writing workshop exploring the world of child miners in Britain. A fast paced workshop, it starts with an informal chat about child labour roles before using the collective imagination of the group to leap back in time to the early Victorian period when children as young as four worked six days a week down dangerous and filthy mines. With two writing exercises and one around editing, the workshop uses the past to inspire storytelling and explores ideas around censorship, bias and point of view.  All stories come from the imagination, and Liz will offer tips and tricks to get those creative juices flowing!

What pupils will take away from the session…
Pupils will get a sense of the fun of using history as inspiration for stories and an understanding of how writing can be affected by censorship. They’ll improve their ability to understand point of view, context, bias and prejudice in writing and have fun experimenting with these ideas. The workshop will also give them confidence in their imagination and storytelling abilities.

Lauren James
Suitable for Years 7 - 12:
Lauren James Lauren James is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series. She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. Her writing has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.FFWW 2019 Lauren James Book Cover
Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a physics calculation she was assigned at university.  Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles.  The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.

Here’s what Lauren says about her work with schools…
I talk about my writing with a focus specifically on how I came to write science fiction after studying Chemistry and Physics at Masters’ level. I discuss how scientific research that I’ve done has inspired events in my novels. I also show a presentation including examples of spreadsheets used to accurately calculate the figures involved in my writing, such as spaceship travel times and time travel figures.  I include discussion of Einstein’s theory of relativity, time dilation, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and more science, talked about in an enthusiastic, easy-to-understand way. I also read from my latest novel and offer a Q&A session.

Bali Rai:
Suitable for Years 5 to 11
FFWW Bali RaiBali Rai is the multiple award-winning writer of over forty books for children, teenagers and young adults.  He is extremely popular on the school visit circuit, both UK and worldwide. Stay A Bit Longer was published by Barrington Stoke last summer, while his new book Now or never tells the poignant story of an Indian soldier at Dunkirk in word War II. His first ever novel, (un)arranged marriage has been made a Penguin Original, to sit alongside his writing hero, Sue Townsend. Bali is passionate about promoting reading and creative writing for young people, and has been involved in literacy projects since 2001.

What a creative session with Bali will involve…
For Years 5 to 7
Bali Rai's sessions will encourage pupils to use everyday items, themselves and their own world as the basis for stories, whether fantastical or realistic. Can that Store Room lead to an alternate universe?  Is the crossing guide actually a demon in disguise?  If you let your imagination roam freely, you can come up with hundreds of ideas for awesome stories.
For Years 8 to 11
Bali will look at how and why stories work, and helps the pupils to understand structure and the importance of giving your protagonist/s an emotional arc to follow.
For Years 10 or 11
All stories stem from emotional journeys undertaken by characters, whether they be Harry Potter or Private Peaceful.  Give your characters an emotional motivation, and watch the words tumble onto the page!  In addition, Bali is very happy to tailor any Year 10-11 sessions towards the GCSE English Language spec.  (He has great experience in this area).
What pupils will take away from the session…
Pupils will get a sense that writing can be fun and exciting, and that they can tell stories. They will also get an understanding that they, too, can be the main players in stories. And they’ll improve their ability to imagine, construct and follow simple story arcs, and will understand why story arcs are so important. All this comes with Increased self-confidence in their writing abilities.Bali Rai Books







Mandy Ross:
Suitable for Years 3 - 6
Mandy RossMandy Ross has written over 60 children’s books, including picture books, stories and non-fiction. Her children’s poetry book, Animal Lullabies, is currently being dramatised as a theatre piece for young children. As well as children’s books, Mandy loves writing poetry, songs and plays – and riddles and jokes too. Mandy has wide experience of helping children to find their writing inspiration in the familiar, real-life world around them, looking out for clues, seeds, memories and stories in the local environment.
“Mandy is expert at drawing little nuggets of inspiration into something special and making the children believe they can do the same.”   Headteacher, Pelsall Village School.Animal Lullabies Mandy Ross

What a creative session with Mandy will involve...
Mandy’s sessions will encourage children to gather ideas and vocabulary, and then write freely and ambitiously in a range of genres including poetry, dialogue and narrative, fostering excitement and fun in the process. Using riddles and word play to enrich their writing, children will create individual and collective work that they will feel proud of, often making miniature books, puppets or simple paper crafts to encourage creativity at home.

What pupils will take away from the session…
Pupils will get a sense of the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from the creative process in writing and making. They will take pride in capturing and sharing their ideas to entertain and intrigue an audience. Their language awareness and enjoyment will be enhanced as they look out for puns and wordplay, building writing confidence in the process.

Maria Whatton:
Suitable for Years 4-8:
Maria WhattonMaria Whatton is an author and storyteller who prizes the stories that her father and grandmother passed down to her, sparking her lively imagination. She has a passion for promoting positive ways of telling stories, running training for teachers, librarians and health workers in storytelling and writing. In 2013 Maria won “Outstanding Female Storyteller of Great Britain” at the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence. She tours crafted storytelling shows with the folk musician Sarah Matthews. Maria is currently Artistic Director for the “Stars and Stories” project which creates performances with cared-for young people about astronomy and ancient legends. She is also Writer in Residence (2016 to date) at Newhall Junior School, Swadlincote, where she runs creative writing workshops for students and in-service teacher training. Her coming of age tale “Silver in the Quarter” was published by Orion alongside Stewart Lee’s memoir “In the Ape’s Shadow” in 2018.

What a creative session with Maria will involve…
For years 4-6: Storytelling into Writing – Inside the Story
Maria will tell interactive, fun, traditional tales that will engage and enthuse young writers. The session allows students to “step inside” the story, taking on roles of characters and using drama techniques to create a living story book. Students will increase understanding of the internal world of the character as well as story structure from dramatic opening, story build up, conflict/problem, resolution and ending.

For years 7 and 8: Storytelling into Writing - The Power of Perspective
Maria will read a section from “Silver in the Quarter” (first person perspective) and then tell a short, dynamic traditional tale. Students will have an opportunity to take a character from the traditional tale and be guided in writing a story opener from first person perspective that will hook the reader. Students will then scaffold the character’s emotional journey in preparation for crafting their own version of the story.

What pupils will take away from the session…
The ancient stories have survived because they contain the ingredients that grip our imaginations. Pupils will get a chance to be spellbound by the magic of story and utilise the elements that engage the listener to inform their own story making. They will take away the sense that story creation and writing can be great fun, an adventure of the imagination.

How to book:
Please complete our online Booking Form by Friday 14th June 2019.
Final details of your visit will then be confirmed to you before the end of the summer term. The form will ask for your preferences for library and some options on dates. Please be as flexible as possible so that we can meet the wishes of as many schools as possible. If you would like further information please contact: fantasticfunwithwords@warwickshire.gov.uk 

We are Reading: November 2018

A Children's Book of Mindfulness: Happy by Nicola Edwards

This lovely picture books looks at ways we can be more mindful, by stopping to listen to the sounds around us, thinking about how we feel, discovering our senses and relaxing.  A great books to have in your library or at home.

Are we all Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne

We are introduced to Olive, the main character, in the midst of a crisis; she has taken refuge in a den she’s made in her bedroom away from all the noise of the outside world. Within the first 10 pages she hits crisis point which leads to a referral to Camp Reset “The Country’s first residential camp for brain wellness”,  The story then follows Olive’s month long stay at Camp Reset with a cast of characters dealing with a host of mental health issues.  Although it tackles some serious problems, this book achieves a level of humour which doesn’t feel forced or contrived.  I found myself rooting for Olive and her fellow residents as they attempt to infect the world with compassion and kindness in an effort to combat mental health issues and it left me with the feeling that they were onto something. I think this is a thought provoking story about an issue that we need to talk about more openly.

When the Whales Walked by Dougal Dixon, illustrated by Helen Bailey

This is one of our favourite new non fiction books that takes a look at incredible evolutionary journeys from a time when crocodiles ruled the world, when elephants were tiny and birds had teeth!   It is packed full of information about different animals  and how they have evolved into the animals we are familiar with today.  Great for evolution topic boxes and also for some fact finding reading for pleasure.





Previous Recommended Reads

For our previous book recommendations please take a look at our back issues pages.  This can be found at the bottom of this page, please select the edition you want and click go!