When I first started doing the under-5s at Chelsea I had no experience at all, in fact I had come from delivering the housebound service in Hammersmith, so I was used to dealing with the very elderly who were often slow on their feet and very polite. I was in no way prepared for the chaos of pre-schoolers: the tired and distracted mothers and the nannies on their mobiles.
My God they were a tough audience!
I soon realise why so many people were reluctant to take on the responsibility. Some fellow workers were not brave enough to put on the baritone voice of the ogre in The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
There was almost a sense that the children’s library should be free of noise and chaos.
Did we really need class visits when books were left strewn across the carpet? Well, yes we did! We needed to embrace the chaos.
I soon developed a taste for amateur theatrics and found myself thinking my way inside Mr Bear’s mind in the wonderful ‘Peace At Last’ where the adults are amused by Mr Bear’s wretched sleepless night, his snoring wife and the horrible brown letter from the Inland Revenue which appears at the end and is clearly responsible for the wiggly lines etched round his eyes.
Last month I was sent on a story-time training session in Barnet where I hoped to pick up some new tips.
Would there be some hints on puppetry?
How to throw your voice or even a magic spell to aid concentration?
The session in Barnet was led by three high octane women. They had a personal interest in all the stories and like fans of music they felt a special relationship with Lucy Cousins and Jez Alborough. They had taken ownership of the books. Their enthusiasm was a little daunting for the first timer. I both appreciated the course and squirmed with embarrassment at having to sit on a small inflatable ring in a mock-up of a farm yard. Story-time means you have to let go, become cartoonish, engage the children with eye contact and big swirling gestures.
What I learnt is that repetition in a story is great, less text too, stories that elicit a call and answer response and some of those almost silent books such as ‘Hug’ which repeat one word over and over are the best. Most important of all don’t be afraid of repeating the same story. They will soon know Jack and the Beanstalk by heart.
We had a busy Summer Reading Challenge party and began with some themed record breaker questions for the completers. No one was prepared for the weird questions quizmaster Vince Symmons prepared: the length of the longest nose hair or the greatest distance covered by a skate-boarding goat?
Answers on a postcard please.
The more absurd the question the better the children responded.
Story-craft this month was structured around monsters. Di devised some brilliantly huggable creatures with folding arms and big furry bodies – a bit like an angry sporran. Earlier we designed frogs with red woollen tongues and a squashed fly on the end.
We also had a visit from the Holland Park ecology centre. The staff brought cockroaches and millipedes to the library and they did very well with our very own two-legged mini beasts!
By DanielJeffreys Customer Service Assistant, Chelsea Library
Notting Hill Gate Library had a busy October this year, which included our Halloween display and the first Halloween Story and Craft Event on Saturday 24th October. This was a great opportunity for the children to dress up as their favourite characters and celebrate the holiday. The turn out was great and the afternoon was memorable. However, this could not have happened without the help and support from both parents and our kind volunteer Karima, who is a Primary School Teacher.
We began the afternoon with a scary story called Spooky House by Roger Priddy, in which we all participated in the reading together. After this, with the help of Karima’s teaching experience, we explained health and safety measures to the children.
With limited space in the Library, sitting on the floor worked to our advantage as it brought everyone together. The children were hooked in the making of their spider webs and loved the challenge when weaving the wool. After this, we had played a game of pass-the-parcel which engaged everyone’s attention, including the parents who also joined in.
To promote healthy eating, we created our very own pumpkins from oranges (the pumpkin’s body) and celery (the pumpkin’s stalk). In addition to this, we also made ghosts from bananas and raisins were used for the eyes. It proved to be a success.
At the end of the day everyone was sad the afternoon was over, but were cheered as each were given Halloween goody bags filled with raisins and a Halloween activity booklet.
To encourage reading I asked parents to take out a book for each child from the display, in which I had drawn inspiration from The Wizard of Oz. We all know how inspirational books can be and as it has been said ‘Today a reader, tomorrow a leader!’
Come along and join us for our next Story and Craft event on Saturday 21st November 2015 but please book early to avoid disappointment!
Chatterbooks, as we all know, is the national reading group for children and this year 11th – 18th October is Chatterbooks Week.
We got in a few days early with a great event from the very popular children’s author Steve Cole. Steve is the author of, amongst other things, the Astrosaurs and Cows in Action series, has taken over the Young Bond series from Charlie Higson and has also written episodes of Dr Who.
Over 100 KS2 pupils from local schools witnessed the most energetic author event I’ve ever seen, with Steve leaping on and off the stage and running up and down the aisles taking questions. When I asked the Reading Agency if he’d be bringing any equipment with him (I was thinking laptop, usb stick) I was told no, just his ukulele! His songs had the children screaming along with the choruses.
Steve was really strong in exemplifying the role of imagination in storytelling, improvising stories from the names of children’s (and teacher’s) pets, playing with words and making it all such fun.
The Chatterbooks reading groups are a great forum for children who enjoy reading to meet up and talk about their reading experiences, recommend books to each other and maybe do some fun activities related to reading and books like word searches and quizzes.
They are held monthly at most of the RBKC libraries – check here to find the nearest to you.
Since its launch earlier this summer, nearly 900 children have joined this year’s Summer Reading Challenge “Record Breakers” – so far! More than 300 young people have completed the challenge already, by reading 6 books and collecting stickers and other rewards along the way.
Kensal Library has been especially busy with over a quarter more children joining than last year, but not a busy as Notting Hill Gate Library, which has seen the number of children joining doubling since last year and more of these children have completed the challenge than they did over the whole of the summer last year!
It’s not too late for you to sign up to the Challenge and there is still plenty of time to read the six books – and get your medal for finishing the challenge. What a good way to finish the summer!
We’ve added some pictures above, highlighting all the record-breaking fun we’ve had over the summer.
Schools have well and truly broken up for the summer and several more weeks of long holiday lie ahead… what will your children be doing? Visit your local library this summer to see all theevents and activities for childrenwhich are on offer. There are events on throughout the holidays, so there is lots to choose from!
If your children like a Challenge, why not bring them to join this year’s Record Breakers? All they need to do is read 6 library books over the holidays, and they’ll receive stickers and rewards for telling us about them.
It’s free to join, just visit your nearest library to sign up – all that’s needed is a library card. There’s a medal for everyone who reads 6 books!
What weird, wonderful or wacky records will you and your kids discover?
Natasha, Senior Customer Services Assistant at Kensal library, writes…
It’s been a busy six months at Kensal Library, with a packed program of events for our young users. Below, we share pictures from some of the stand out sessions.
March: African Dance Session
We had an African Dance Session in March. As you can tell from the photos, it was a great experience and everyone had a lot of fun and enjoyed the music.
Mother’s Day Craft
We made wonderful Mother’s Day rosettes in March and the children couldn’t wait to give them to their mums.
Bear Hunt in the Library!
We had the bear hunt in conjunction with Go Golborne in May. The children wore great bear hats and the hunt around the library proved to be as adventurous as any real bear hunt! All of this was followed by tasty, healthy snacks.
A stall in front of the library about healthy eating also proved to be very popular.
Mini Beasts & Creepy Crawlies:
In June we had a Minibeast workshop hosted by Holland Park Ecology Centre. The children had a chance to hold and examine a hissing cockroach or a giant Madagascan millipede. Lots of interesting questions and observations were made and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.
Now it’s finally summer and we are looking forward to this year’s Summer Reading Challenge – Record Breakers – which starts on 11 July. Come along and register for great incentives and a super gold medal if you complete the challenge.
Last week, Brompton, Chelsea, Kensington Central and North Kensington libraries had the pleasure of hosting Canela Fina! who ran their “Quiero Bailar Flamenco” interactive Flamenco storytelling session in Spanish and English.
We hear a lot of Spanish as we’re floor-walking, especially after school when the kids have come into the library, so we expected a good turnout for this workshop – and we weren’t disappointed!
Not all the attendees were Spanish speakers, but amongst those who were, some came along in their own beautiful flamenco dresses.
For the others, workshop instructor Maria brought along all manner of accessories to help them get into that Spanish spirit: flowers, hair combs, bracelets and shawls.
Although most of the children started off a little shy and hesitant, by the end of the session there was plenty of rhythmic footwork and ¡Olé!s coming through the walls and ceilings as the children (alongside their parents and carers!) gradually lost their inhibitions and really threw themselves into the spirit of the dance! And who wouldn’t move to the familiar sound of Bamboleo? (Not strictly speaking a well-known flamenco song but undoubtedly Spanish!)
Everyone learnt some Spanish words and were really pleased they’d come to the session.
Now in its 17th year, World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators and books and most importantly reading. Across the Triborough area it is a major event in the school year and we at Kensington Central Library were privileged to host the multiple award-winning children’s author Jeremy Strong. His titles include the “My brother’s famous bottom” series, the “Hundred-mile-an-hour dog” series and his latest title, “Romans on the rampage” He had an audience of over 250 people roaring with laughter when he visited the library on World Book Day, Thursday 5 March.
The interactive sessions were attended by 8 school classes, teachers and volunteers from Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.
Jeremy kept everyone amused with tales of his childhood and the inspirations for his bestselling books. He explained why all writers need a fridge and shared with us his very first reworking of the legend of Jason and the Argonauts (written at the age of about 8 and complete with spelling mistakes and the castle door with no handle!). He also answered a range of burning questions and signed copies of his books which were available for sale.
As has become traditional on World Book Day, many pupils and teachers came along dressed as their favourite book characters so we had several Matildas (Roald Dahl), several Dr. Suess’s and a Captain Underpants (but, thankfully, no characters from “50 Shades of Grey”!)
As an encore, Jeremy kindly signed two books which will be the prize for an upcoming competition. Watch this space!
A big thanks to Jeremy and everyone who turned out to see him on that breezy morning.
Stephanie Webb, Lending Librarian at Brompton Library, writes:
The Chatterbooks session on Monday 9 March was both a happy and a sad occasion as it was the last one led by Babita Sinha. Babita is leaving at the end of March and has led Chatterbooks here at Brompton for five years and before that at Chelsea for three years. She has a devoted following of children who will be very sad to see her go.
However, she went out in style with a (slightly premature) Shakespeare Week event which had the kids searching the children’s area for Shakespearean clues, followed by word searches and other quizzes and some readings from the bard. All this was helped along with some naughty nibbles to mark Babita’s last session.
So, Babita is leaving (Boo-hoo!) but Katie Collis will be taking over (Hurrah!) in May.
There’s still room for a few more at our Chatterbooks reading group which is on the third Monday of each month at 3.45pm