A love of reading

You’re never too young to enjoy a good story, and at your local library children are welcome to join from birth. It’s absolutely free and for children there aren’t any fines for returning books late.

Did you know that all families with babies aged 0-12 months are eligible for a free Bookstart baby pack?  Each pack contains two books, a rhyme sheet and a booklet of tips and ideas for sharing stories with your child. Pop into your local library to pick yours up today.

If you’re interested in getting involved in your local reading community, check out the fun under-fives activities on offer at your local library.

And remember, we understand that children can be noisy (and sometimes messy!) so don’t worry too much about being quiet; we love to see young children enjoying our libraries and welcome their enthusiasm!

By taking out books and reading with your child every day you can help their physical, mental and emotional development as well as language and listening skills. Plus, you get to enjoy some fantastic stories!

“A love of reading is more important in academic achievement than a child’s social or economic background.” –Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ‘Reading for change’ 2001

Happy reading!

Harriet Skinner

Libraries Children’s Officer

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Black History Month event at Chelsea Library

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Caged bird by Maya Angelou

Black History Month did not pass unnoticed at Chelsea Library. We were well prepared with a rich collection of books for children, teenagers and adults – and we had information displays throughout the library.

On Saturday 21 October, the library held a very successful Black History Month story and craft session. I invited Ade Akinbi, a teacher from a local primary school to be our special guest. As our events are free, and families can just come along – you never know how many will come, how old the children will be, and whether the planned activities will be appropriate for them. Therefore, I prepared for all possibilities – and hoped for the best!

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After my short introduction, Ade read ‘Caged bird’, Maya Angelou’s famous poem.

I then read Julia Donaldson’s ‘The ugly five’. This story is such a great fun and a fantastic introduction to our craft session – making animal masks. Tigers were absolutely the favourite choice, as you can see. Monkeys, lions, hippos, giraffes and cows (acting as wildebeests) could not compete with them.

After the first fifteen minutes of hubbub and excitement, everybody gradually got quiet and listened to songs from The Lion King in the background. (By the way – this is a guaranteed recipe for home-family-art-craft-workshop: talking book playing in the background and all sorts of craft materials on the kitchen table.)

The children and adults seemed content in designing, colouring and cutting, and I seized the moment for Ade to read another story – ‘When the rains come’ by Tom Pow and Malika Favre, set in a village in Malawi. We all enjoyed it, even learnt how to say “Hello, how are you?” “Moni. Muli bwanji.”

Six year old Christina made three masks – all tigers! Agynes (8), twins Phillip and Luke (7), Camilla (6) and Victoria (4) and many others, who had to leave earlier, spent a dynamic and creative afternoon with us.

Zvezdana, Chelsea Library

Dancing bunnies at Kensal Library

We just had to share these lovely pictures with you all – Kensal Library held a very special baby rhyme time on Friday last week to celebrate National Bookstart Week 2017.

There was lots of singing and dancing as prompted by Bookstart’s chosen book ‘Everybunny Dance’ by Ellie Sandall. Each child received a copy of the book plus a special rhyme sheet and a pair of cute bunny ears.

All the children had a fun time and loved the story followed by some great rhymes like Sleeping Bunnies and Jelly on a Plate.

Don’t worry if you missed out last week, Kensal Library’s baby rhyme time is every Friday, 10.30 to 11am – hope to see you there soon!

The staff at Kensal Library

Saturday Story & Craft at Kensal Library

Shamrock faces for St Patrick's Day 2017 at Kensal LibraryAt our regular story and craft session we made these cute shamrock faces to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

We started with a template of a shamrock printed onto green paper and drew on a face and added googly eyes.  Next we put a small amount of tissue paper and then stuck on the other side of the shamrock to make it puffy and finally tied a piece of ribbon around the stalk.

Hope you all had a great St Patrick’s Day!

Our next Story & Craft will be on Saturday 8 April.

[Natasha]

Dr Seuss Day at Kensal Library

We celebrated the wonderful world of Dr Seuss on Thursday 2 March which was also World Book Day so we had some children wearing great costumes in the library.  There was a ladybird from ‘What the ladybird heard’, Catwoman, Woody from Toy Story, a spy, Spiderman and later we were joined by The Woman in Black!

Our first craft was making a mini version of the Cat in the Hat’s hat.  Look at how cute they turned out!

Next we made The Lorax’s face from polystyrene balls cut in half which we coloured orange and stuck on eyebrows and a moustache made from yellow felt, googly eyes and a sweet mini pom pom nose.

Dr Seuss activity at Kensal Library, March 2017

Then everybody decorated and made some cool Cat in the Hat bookmarks.

Dr Seuss activity at Kensal Library, March 2017

Dr Seuss would have been 113 years old on the 2 March 2017! His books are still immensely popular and his quotes continue to inspire.

Below are a few of my favourite Dr Seuss quotes:

‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’
I Can Read with My Eyes Shut

  “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Oh, the Places You’ll Go

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
– The Lorax

Hope you all had a great World Book Day.

Natasha Chaoui, SCSA, Kensal Library

Chocolate event with Canela Fina! at Brompton library

Our old friends Canela Fina! delivered yet another great event for Brompton library with their chocolate event for children. We had a full house with everyone champing at the bit to get to the eating part of the event. Of course, that came at the end, so before that we had a history of where chocolate came from and how it’s made, all with graphics on our screen, and then the chocolate song with hand actions that was so fast in the end no-one could keep up with it… but had great fun trying!

Then came the part that everyone had been waiting for – tasting the white, brown and black chocolate before drawing pictures of the Aztec god of chocolate (I hadn’t known there was one!) and then, even better, being given two little doughnuts to decorate with chocolate sauce (white and brown) and sprinkles.

Well, you can’t go wrong with chocolate, can you?

[Stephanie]

Harry Potter Book Night at Brompton and Chelsea Libraries!

“Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

Who could resist Potter madness?

Brompton and Chelsea libraries certainly couldn’t and fully embraced the Harry Potter Book Night madness with magical craft sessions of their own.

We captured a few pictures from the events, take a look at the ‘mischief managed’!

Continue reading “Harry Potter Book Night at Brompton and Chelsea Libraries!”

Brompton gets down and dirty!

On a drizzly, wet afternoon after school last week Brompton Library was pleased to welcome our friend Matthew from the Ecology Centre who brightened everyone’s day with the promise of growth and renewal by the planting of a pea!

Plant Potters activity at Brompton LibraryMatthew was inundated with keen kids and their carers who were shown how to make an environmentally friendly plant pot with newspaper and a wooden press. They then added some compost and the seed and Hey Presto! – they had a seed to nurture at home.

In this part of the borough most of the housing is in flats, whether they’re in mansion blocks with their own garden squares or social housing with a local park, so many kids won’t be used to getting their hands stuck in to garden soil or watching their own plant grow from a seed to an edible vegetable.

Let’s hope that at least some survive (though I have my doubts!)

Many thanks to the Ecology Centre – the plant potters event is new to libraries this academic year and I hope it’s as well received at other libraries as it was here. See our latest events listing or ask in your nearest RBKC library for the next Plant Potters event.

Plant Potters activity at Brompton Library     Plant Potters activity at Brompton Library

[Stephanie Webb]

A Christmas Display at North Kensington Library

Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2017 Year !

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I am sure that now and then we all come across a new picture book in our libraries that bursts out with that special WOW! factor when your fingers and your heart just itch to make your own picture book, make illustrations just like those, retell the story to all the children in library, at home or in nursery.

Continue reading “A Christmas Display at North Kensington Library”

Kensington Mums celebrate their 5th blog anniversary & announce their second Kensington Christmas Fair

Find out more about one of Kensington and Chelsea’s community groups, Kensington Mums (who have blogged for us before), a support network for local mums and mums-to-be, and join them at their Family Christmas Fair on the 27th November. Over to our guest blogger, Dina…

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Award winning ‘Mummy group’ and parenting support network, Kensington Mums, has reached its 5th blog anniversary and to celebrate has announced its second Family Christmas Fair which will be taking place this month on 27th November 2016 at the stylish Kensington Close Hotel from 10am to 5pm in support of the charity Best Beginnings.

Throughout the fair there will be lots going on to keep little ones entertained: arts and crafts, face painting, hair braiding and nail stamping to name but a few of the day’s activities and surprises. Parents, in the meantime, can enjoy festive shopping, with various exhibitors at the fair, including Bambini and Me, Club Petit Pierrot, Hesper Fox and Finns of Chelsea. The exhibitors at the fair are also mums in business, and Kensington Mums use the fair as a way of supporting and financially empowering these entrepreneurial mothers.

How did Kensington Mums start?
Kensington Mums founder, Dina Maktabi, first created the group when she found herself living in Kensington as a new mum. She was two thousand miles from her Beirut homeland with just her husband for support and the challenge of new motherhood hit hard and she struggled in isolation for months with Post Natal Depression.

More than eight years ago, with her new born in her hands, she recalls grabbing handfuls of outfits in high-street stores in the pretence of shopping, and retreating to the changing rooms to breastfeed, as the high-street had yet to cater to mothers and babies effectively.

Thankfully there has been some progress in societal views around breastfeeding and its public acceptance, but the isolation which many new mothers experience remains, particularly for ex-pat mums who are without the support network of their own family to cushion them through the early stages of starting and raising a family.

Kensington Mums was birthed in 2011 out of Dina’s desire to reconnect with other women and create the support network she was missing, and has become a celebrated free support network open to mothers from all over London.

“The friends I began to make through the launch of Kensington Mums became my family and inspired my desire to reach and help other mothers who might be experiencing the same thing. It turned out that I was not the only one. In 2014 Nathalie Bernadotte came on board and now we are an unstoppable duo with a growing ‘family’” says Dina. Today the network command an audience of over 24,000 London based mothers, many of whom live outside of the Kensington area but tap into the community for its blend of events, advice and connectivity.

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The group has many awards under its belt: winning the Mumpreneur UK’s bronze award for Best Website; shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards; and was listed as a Top 100 winner of the Mumsclub Business Mum Award. Kensington Mums has also garnered support from celebrity mums Tamara Beckwith, Tamara Ecclestone, Caprice Bourret and HRH Marie Chantal and their vision is to expand their offering and reach mummy communities internationally. In 2014 sister site Mums in Beirut  was launched in the Middle East, becoming an instant hit with mothers in the region, and is now viewed as Beirut’s answer to ‘Mumsnet’.

Keeping Mums in the loop with the latest trends and family outings, Kensington Mums provides everything from family friendly healthy and delicious recipes, to regular competitions giving families a chance to win prizes from a host of well-known brands. Kensington Mums has become a destination website for honest reviews of products and services for London families. The ‘mumthly’ events held in a host of desirable London venues, have ranged from inspiring mum get-togethers to nutrition coffee mornings with expert advice on the impact of diet on toddlers and expectant mothers. The brand’s online motherhood exhibition was included in New York’s Museum of Motherhood in 2013 after the success of their original exhibition in Chelsea.

“When the opportunity to team up with Dina came in 2014, I didn’t think about it twice. I wanted to help and be part of the community that once helped me so much.  Not having family close by and being the first to have a baby within my close circle of friends, I often didn’t know who to talk to – about my labour and birth fears or who to ask advice and share tips on breastfeeding, burps and naps. I felt very lucky to have found Kensington Mums which brought me amazing friendships and helped me gain confidence in being a mother every day” says Nathalie.

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In 2014 Kensington Mums launched a (free to download) KM App, meaning modern mums have instant access to the online magazine’s resources. The App is available on ITunes and GooglePlay.

Boasting an increasing group of ex-pat mothers who connect with the network before they have even made their move to London, the need for support and shared experience by like minds is evident. In an age where networking has become increasingly digital, Kensington Mums are successfully illustrating that the online landscape can be a fantastic resource for creating relationships, which cross over into ‘real’ life.

Look here for further information on Kensington Mums Christmas Fair on 27th November 2016, and here for  Beirut Mums.

Dina Maktabi, Kenisngton Mums

Have a look here for our A-Z directory of other community groups and services.