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!
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.
Here at Brompton we’ve had our first Summer Reading Challenge craft event presented by our ever-popular creative genius, Eithne Farry.
Whatever theme we throw at her, Eithne always manages to come up with something new that the kids love to make. Record Breakers (this year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme) was a bit puzzling at first from a craft point of view but when Eithne arrived with examples of rosettes and medals the kids were hooked, and the mums and the grandmums, too! With day-glo coloured ribbons, wool and lots of glitter the children went away bedecked in eye-catching self-made medals.
Eithne will be visiting all the Kensington and Chelsea libraries over the course of the summer holiday, so look out for more opportunities to create your own record breaking crafts!
As we started these posts around this time last year we are proud to celebrate a full year of bloggery, fun and learning on the Old Brompton Road. This month we have been busy with class visits, craft /story-time events and our new homework club for children age 7-11 which has proved popular and is aimed at giving children extra support with their studies, hopefully helping to boost their confidence in school. Sessions run Tuesdays and Thursdays 15:30-17:00.
November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year. We’re inviting book lovers, schools, libraries and bookshops nationwide to take part and celebrate 30 unmissable books by one of our greatest writers for children.
Throughout November the Michael Morpurgo website is hosting free teacher resources, brand new author videos, audio downloads and competitions, focusing on a different book each day. From War Horse to Beowulf and the Butterfly Lion to Kensuke’s Kingdom, celebrate 70 years of Michael Morpurgo’s stories this November.
We love Mr. Morpurgo so we have made a display with a selection of his work.
Half-term craft and events
One of our favourite rhymes at our usual Thursday morning Story Time is Incy Wincy Spider. So for our half-term and Halloween craft we made paper-plate spider webs. We punched holes around a paper-plate, wove wool through and across to make the web and then stuck on a spider.
For our monthly craft session we took inspiration from autumn leaves. We cut strips of card long enough to go around our heads, stuck on a length of double sided tape and then stuck leaves onto the tape to make a leaf crown. It was very quick and successful!
On Tuesday our Reading Group discussed The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers. Set around the cathedral of Chartres, it is about a woman called Agnes Morel who cleans the cathedral but also does odd jobs for various people of the town. Agnes is anxious to stay in the background and have a quiet life, after being brought up in the harsh environment of a nunnery and experiencing a pregnancy at a young age, and is determined to forge a new life. Despite this, she touches the hearts of the many people that she helps and slowly they acknowledge this lovely but troubled woman.
I think that all of us agreed that this was an easy book to read as it was so well written. Although the story weaved back and forth in time it was very convincing. The collection of the town’s characters was well conceived; especially the sniping and gossiping friends who are really enemies who gave it a comical but also tragic edge. After reading those Booker Prize novels, this book felt like slipping into a warm bath – a book that could be enjoyed on a cold winter’s day and with a few hours to spare.
It’s amazing what topics of conversation flow in our Reading Group – from discussing The Luminaries, we then discussed the equally Antipodean The Thornbirds. We then jumped onto great TV dramas that we had watched in the eighties such as The Far Pavilions, a Passage to India and The Jewel in the Crown. Listening and discussing various topics and sharing each other’s company is equally as important as discussing the monthly book – it is a cathartic and engaging experience.
Next month’s Reading Group book is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I can’t wait to read this!
Hello to you all from the staff at Chelsea Library.
Stories, crafts and a wizard in the children’s library
This summer during the heat wave we ran two successful story and craft events – an ugly ducking session tied into the Hans Christian Anderson story. Thirty three children came to design flying swans and yellow ducklings and left with a free copy of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ (given to us by Bookstart).
Funny Bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Tickle Ghost by David and Brett McKee
Walter de la Mare
The second story and craft event had a creepy house theme. We read out Funny bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and David and Brett McKee’s The Tickle Ghost as well as Walter de la Mare’s The Listeners. We asked the children to imagine what happens next. What will those phantoms treading on the staircase do now that the traveller has gone?
Diane, one of our Senior Customer Services Assistants, designed some brilliant ghosts, little stuffed spectres and hand puppets. The children decorated them with coloured ribbons and sashes which streamed beneath them like kites. Like vampires, who after the overkill of the vampire publishing boom are in desperate need of a transfusion, ghosts can get a little clichéd. So we tried out some new shapes, among them was a Kung-fu kick boxing ghost with a Jackie Chan headband.
The summer highlight was a visit by Mr Wiz, a Fulham based wizard who played to a packed house of over 50 children. He blew bubbles, threatened to turn chatterboxes into dinosaurs and frogs (one member of staff is still suffering from the frog spell—she stares distractedly at garden ponds in her lunch hour). He magicked pineapple chunks into golden coins and led them in a dance about Five Little Speckled Frogs. The children were thumping on the floor so excitedly that the porters in their office below reported a steady fall of plaster. Each child left with their very own broomstick shaped balloon so that they could fly home chasing bubbles. It was great to see the library so busy – children were still coming through the door during the magic.
Baby rhyme time will be touring the O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium with a beefed up version of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ but until then we hope to take it outside into the Sydney Street Gardens. And if you can’t wait – come along to our weekly session on Thursdays at 11am.
Customer Services Assistant
Fashion takeover in the reference library
This week the reference librarians have taken over the Chelsea Gallery to showcase some books from our Costume Collection. There are some rarely seen books on Ancient Egyptian dress from our archives on show.
And also some great 80’s fashion images, inspired by the exhibitions currently on at the V&A and the Fashion and Textile Museum (which we’ve blogged about recently ‘Zandra Rhodes – Unseen (and seen in Vogue and Harpers and Queens)’). We’re really inspired by going to these exhibitions, so look out for more related fashion collection blog posts from us….!
Information about both of these subjects and MUCH more is available from the online Berg Fashion Library which we subscribe to. If you are interested in finding out more about this fantastic resource, please ask us in the Chelsea Reference Library.
And for a taster, here is a great image of a 1980’s cardigan from the V&A and a description of it that we found in the Berg Fashion Library.
This hand-knitted cardigan was inspired by the patterns on decorative china plates. The kaleidoscope of stitches in bright primary colours emphasises its hand-crafted appeal, and the striking patchwork effect is achieved by alternating blocks of stocking and fancy stitches. The designer, Patricia Roberts, set up a hand-knitting business in 1976 and still runs a shop in London today. She has published many pattern books and issued ranges of luxury yarn. This cardigan is typical of her innovative designs in bold colours using contrasting textures and decorative stitches.
Welcome to our blog post for June 2013 from us all at Kensington Central Library. Over to the staff to tell you what’s been happening here.
Fashion at Kensington Central Library
Fashion! Turn to the left
Fashion! Turn to the right
We are the goon squad
And we’re coming to town
(Fashion by David Bowie)
I have been working at Kensington Central Library for one month now and have been enjoying having the opportunity to be at some great events! The Fashion Design Workshop in the Children’s Library at the end of May pulled a crowd of fashionable kids who got involved in sketching designs, creating a theme and colour pallet for a collection, and even had the opportunity to be fashion models and dressers!
Our tutor was Jennifer Sturrock, who taught the children about lots of stuff including how fashion designers take inspiration from all kinds of places when creating collections – from butterflies to geometric shapes. She also taught them about how to sketch an outfit to get across an impression of it – which included drawing with their eyes closed and behind their backs!
Splishy, splashy fun with Barry the Fish!
At our last monthly story and craft session we had some splishy, splashy fun with ‘Barry the Fish who had Fingers’ (by author Sue Hendra).
Boys and girls listened to the tale of how Barry the Fish and his friend Puffer save the day. Then we made some pictures and crowns with an under the sea theme. Everyone had a whale of a time!
Our next session will be on Saturday 6 July at 2pm – hope to see you there!
Senior Customer Services Assistant
National Crime Writing Month
Do you like reading crime fiction? Well it’s National Crime Writing Month so to celebrate we’ll be having a new crime fiction display every week during this special month at Kensington Central Library.
This week we’ve concentrated on authors that have won the Crime Writers’ Association’s (CWA) Dagger in the Library award.
There’s more information about this book award on the CWA’s website.
Business/ self- employment advice
Looking for business advice or self-employment support? The Dalgarno Trust is holding sessions every Thursday afternoon at Kensington Central Library.
On Saturday 18 May the Crocheting Divas came to show us how to crochet like a Diva! This was part of our Adult Learners’ Week events.
They taught us to crochet flowers, brooches and hats. Crocheting relaxes the mind and is good for the emotional wellbeing.
If you would like to crochet (like a diva!) they will be at Kensal Library every Monday, 1.15pm to 3pm.
The DIVAS provide the wool and refreshments. Bring your own crochet hooks (size 3 and 4) and a £1 donation.
Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library
New baby rhyme time
We have recently changed our storytime session to a baby rhyme time session every Friday at 10.30 to 11.00am. We have a regular nursery group attending who are very enthusiastic and love hearing a few stories before we embark on a round of nursery rhymes ending with the very popular ‘Jumping Bean’ song.
We will be having a half term craft event on Friday 31st May at 3 to 4pm. We will be making butterfly crowns so keep a look out for any children wearing them in the north of the borough!
We had an interesting Chatterbooks session this month. The group read a fairytale (Rapunzel) and then we wrote our own fairytales but we wrote one paragraph then passed it on to the person sitting to the left of us and carried on until the story was finished. We ended up with some very wacky and funny tales!
On Thursday 25 April our Chatterbooks group met at our usual time of 4 pm in children’s library. As this was part of our Cityread London events we chose London and the London Underground as themes for this meeting. Nine children attended the session; most of them were eight years old. We had one participant who was only four years old but he desperately wanted to join us and with his mother’s assistance he enjoyed every minute of it!
First we read one story from ‘London Stories’ book written by Jim Eldrige. The stories describe London through its history up to today as seen through the eyes of the city’s children. We read the first story which gave us some facts about London in Roman times. Four children participated in reading and then we had short discussion about the historic facts in the story we read.
The second part of the session was the most enjoyable for the children as they used their creativity and imagination in creating futuristic posters for the London Underground. They cut some images and did drawings and at the end we got a few lovely posters for our display.
After successful work they all deserved quick refreshment with Jaffa Cakes. Before leaving the children wanted to know when the next meeting was going to be and they were told that our next Chatterbooks meeting is held on the last Thursday in a month – which is 30 May next time. Goodbye till then!
Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library
Words about the World – travel writing book display
Summer is coming and for the adventurous and even the armchair traveller we have we have a display of travel writing and travel guides. We also have readers’ wall inviting you to recommend your favourite book about travel or holiday destination. Contributions so far include destinations Brazil and Venice recommended travel books Brazil by Michael Palin, Lonely planet guide to Croatia and Eye witness travel guide to Vienna.
Books on display include old favourites such as Dervla Murphy’s ‘Full tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle’ and Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’. My favourite new titles are Tom Fort’s ‘The A303: Highway to the sun’ and John Osborne’s ‘Don’t need the sunshine’.
I have many treasured memories of travelling along the A303 in the 1960s to Devon and then on to Cornwall. And was there sunshine? I remember windy days playing cricket on the beach and clambering up the rocky cliffs to retrieve the ball. We had lots of fun and we didn’t need the sun.
Hello and welcome to the May edition of the Brompton Library blog. A recap for those new to us – we are located just 7 minutes walk from Earl’s Court tube station, our medium-sized library caters for a wide variety of people and offers many learning resources:
Wide selection of books including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, children’s and young adult
Audio-books and large-print titles
Newspapers and magazines
Travel guides and Ordnance Survey maps
Computers with scanning and printing facilities
Children’s story-time and singing sessions
Fortnightly coffee mornings (age 50+)
If you would like to join the library all you need is some identification with proof of UK address. The membership process takes only five minutes and once you are registered you will have access to all of our libraries across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
In addition to all of these resources there are a multitude of events and groups that meet on the first floor. Our meeting room can be hired for public and corporate events and there is also a separate learning space that features a projector with screen, ten desktop computer terminals, a scanner and colour photocopier.
Here are some of the groups and activities that meet here:
Tai-Chi and pilates classes
Job seeking support and advice club for those with learning difficulties
Reading groups for adults and children
Housing advice sessions
IT for beginners classes
There’s more information about our meeting room on our website.
Customer Services Assistant, artist, musician and Norwich City supporter David Bushell has created a display of books to inspire people to get outdoors and become involved in activities.
Brompton Library’s reading group read ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes for their May meeting.
It is about a man called Tony who is left a mysterious bequest by an ex-girlfriend’s mother. This leads him back into the days of his adolescence and university life, of four boys hanging out together, one of whom was Adrian, a dazzlingly brilliant person, destined for greatness. As Tony digs deeper into his past he uncovers more and more about the ‘missing years’ and how that compares to his rather conventional life.
Having read this book for the second time I was keen to know what the others thought about it. My first impression of Tony was that he was a rather chinless, useless character who set out to achieve great things but had quite a banal life. Reading it on the second occasion offered me the chance to change my opinion about him; I actually felt more sympathy for Tony this time round. One reader really felt that the behaviour of the young men at school and university only furnished her view that men were the cause of most of the world’s problems, so misguided and dreadful they were. Most really loathed Veronica (one of Tony’s girlfriends) and her very snobbish family, whose dad and brother did their best to make him feel uncomfortable.
What we all agreed upon was that the book started out like something from ‘The History Boys’ by Alan Bennett but then became absorbed with the Tony in later life and this slow build-up to a real bombshell, you could feel it from the few clues that were scattered about for Tony that it was going to be BIG.
I absolutely loved this book – there is a kind of philosophy running through it – and it makes you ponder – how we all view historical events and who said what can be completely blown out of the water. We are all imperfect and therefore history must be too.
Senior Customer Service Assistant
World Book Night 2013
World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift specially chosen and printed books in their communities to share their love of reading. World Book Night is celebrated on 23 April. In 2013 it was celebrated in the UK, Ireland and the USA.
Before rushing up to Kensington Central Library on World Book Night, as a book-giver I had 20 copies of Rose Tremain’s The Road Home to distribute to readers at Brompton Library. I decided to try to give them to our customers who primarily use the library’s computers.
At the end of the day there were only 2 copies left! And I gave these last copies to two of the teachers who came in with their classes the next day.
World Book Night is a good cause and it was great fun being involved with it.
Premier League Reading Stars
Premier League Reading Stars (PLRS) is a partnership between the National Literacy Trust and the Premier League to support hundreds of schools and libraries during 2012 and 2013.
At the beginning of the month, Rob Symmons from Chelsea Library and I finally played host to the first “fixture” in a season of ten PLRS sessions. A local school has selected 9 pupils who they have judged will benefit from this football-themed scheme to improve their literacy skills. It was with much trepidation that we approached this project, neither of us having had any previous experience of delivering what is really a lesson to a bunch of nine year olds but, of course, it turned out to be fine. Rob and I are on a steep learning curve but, at the end of the day, we were over the moon – no yellow cards and lots of goals!
Bookstart Bear Club
At one of our Saturday Storyland sessions this month Senior Customer Services Assistant, Katie and Customer Services Assistant, Rahima introduced the Bookstart Bear Club.
They gave out membership packs which include a booklet to collect bear paw stamps for each of the children who visit the library for story or rhyme times. For each six stamps collected the children get a certificate.
They read bear stories to the children including ‘This is the Bear’ by Sarah Hayes and ‘Copycat Bear’ by Ellie Sandall.
Our colouring pictures were from the Bookstart website, and the children made a picture by sticking on balloon shapes with the bear.
There will be another story and craft session on Thursday 30 May at 10.30am; we are continuing the bear theme using ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’.
This month the theme was spies and thrillers and true to its name it was packed with thrilling espionage activities. There were code making and code breaking puzzles, ideas for spy disguises and how to tell ‘goodie’ from a ‘baddie’.
We discussed loads of books on this theme. There was a competition on drawing a spy gadget and the best gadget which won was the DNA matching revolver. The children were very enthusiastic and it was wonderful sharing their innovative ideas.
The children also enjoyed chatting about their favourite spies and there was no confusion in choosing Mr Bond unanimously.
Our next meeting is on Monday 10 June and the theme will be comics and humour.