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.
BTR Bookstart logo and guidelines update_2.0
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.
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
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
Hello to you all from our three libraries in the north.
Everyone’s a winner at North Kensington Library
The Summer Reading Challenge came to an end 14 September 2013 and this was our most successful challenge yet. Between the three libraries of Kensal, North Kensington and Notting Hill Gate we had nearly 150 children complete the challenge. To do this they had to read 6 books over the summer holiday period. To celebrate the children’s success we organised a party at North Kensington Library on Saturday 5 October. 47 children and 21 adults attended.
We opened the party with a Creepy House Story and spooky music. There were some warm up games and then the children completed a Creepy House Treasure Hunt where they had to find all the Creepy House characters which were hidden all around the library. To make it more interesting I had one over my ID card. It took a long time before anyone noticed and then I was swamped by children as the message got out.
Ishwari, one of our Senior Customer Services Assistants led a pairs game where the children were given the name of a famous personality or character and then had to introduce themselves to the other children until they found their partner – e.g. Wallace & Grommit, Batman & Robin, Dennis the Menace and Gnasher. It was great fun.
All the children received prizes, sweets and refreshments were presented with a signed Creepy House completers certificate. I’m not sure who had the most fun, whether it was the children or the staff who threw themselves into the party with much energy and enthusiasm. Even some of the parents joined in the fun.
Messy but fun at Notting Hill Gate Library!
The Notting Hill Gate Library’s story and craft session this month was fun and messy. The kids dressed up in their favourite characters and then had loads of fun playing with our games. We had a cowboy who wasn’t feeling very well and had to pay a visit to the nurse…
The kids then made some super flying aeroplanes which they flew all over the library, A few times we had to duck so we didn’t get hit :$
Fancy dress and games are available at Notting Hill Gate Library every school holiday where the kids can come in and let their imagination lead them.
Senior Customer Services Assistant
October has been a busy month for Kensal. We celebrated Black History Month and had some great displays as well as lots of customer interest.
Scary spiders at Kensal Library
I had prepared a wonderful Halloween session for our Chatterbooks reading group (for kids aged 8 to 12. The children who came loved the spooky stories and activities and there were plenty of treats to go around, I think I might play some tricks on the children who missed this months meeting!
We have some spooky displays around the library for Halloween and already lots of books have gone from them, we are constantly topping up!
On Thursday 31st October we are having a half term event and I have prepared a great activity to go with our story. We will be attempting to make pom pom spiders and younger members can make their own scary pumpkin faces. So be warned…there will be lots of scary spiders in the North Kensington area!
Hello to you all from the staff at Kensington Central Library! Autumn seems to have started but don’t worry – we have plenty of events happening that’ll keep you out of the wind and rain…..
Events past and coming up
On Saturday 21 September, some scary monsters appeared in Kensington Central Children’s Library, the scariest was the Gruffalo himself! Everyone gathered round for the story of a little mouse who plays a big trick on his fellow animals. Then we made masks to disguise ourselves as all the different animals. There were lots of animal noises to be heard for a while afterwards!
We are now holding a story and craft session every Saturday in the children’s library at 2pm, until 3pm. Come and join us, for more creative fun!
Senior Customer Services Assistant
We’re extremley to lucky to have some great authors speaking at Kensington Central LIbrary this month –
John McHugo talks about his latest book, Sophie Parkin explores bohemian Soho, and Lucinda Hawksley marches with the Suffragettes.
John McHugo will be appearing this evening Tuesday 15 October, 6.30 to 8pm, Sophie Parkin will be here on Thursday 17 October, 6.30 to 8pm and Lucinda Hawksley on Tuesday 29 October, 6.30 to 8pm. Tickets will be available on the door.
Like to learn more about Facebook and Twitter? We’ve a free training session at Kensington Central Reference Library on Friday 25 October, 10am to 12 noon. Places are limited so book your place soon at the library.
Half term fun!
Half term in the Royal Borough is week commencing Monday 28 October and we’ve plenty of events to keep your kids of all ages busy.
They’ll be a Halloween story and craft session on Wednesday 30 October, 2 to 3pm for four to ten year olds.
Also we two Persian themed workshops – Persian dance on Tuesday 29 October, 2 to 4pm for eight to fourteen year olds and Persian art on Thursday 31 October, 2 to 4pm for five to eleven year olds. Both these events are part of the Nour Festival of Arts and can be booked on www.nourfestival.eventbrite.co.uk
We’ve some new book displays this month that have been put together by our creative staff – pop in and take a look!
Hello to you all from the staff at Kensington Central Library – we hope you’ve had an enjoyable summer. We’ve got that ‘back to school’ feeling with lots of new things happening at our library – from new events to new displays.
Bye bye to the Summer Reading Challenge
It’s been a fantastic summer for the kids at Kensington Central Library – along with our normal regular events for our youngest library members we had a weekly story and craft session on Thursday afternoons to support this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. During the last session – the kids made some great creepy houses out of a tissue paper which they really enjoyed.
We’re really proud of the children who’ve taken part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge – at the last count over 250 children took part and just over 100 of them completed. That mean’s they read six or more books each – in fact we’ve worked out that over 660 books have been read!
As our story and craft sessions are so popular – we’ll now be having a regular weekly session every Saturday. So if your kids enjoy listening to stories and like to get creative – bring them along on Saturdays at 2pm!
We’ve got some new and diverse books on display at the moment – right by the library entrance so they’re easy to find:
A new series of The Great British Bake Off has recently started on BBC 2 so we have an amazing display of books for anyone who’s been inspired to bake. (there’s more information about The Great British Bake Off on the BBC website)
To carry on the food theme – we’ve a healthy eating book display. We’ve included Jamie Oliver’s latest book which is to do with healthy eating on a budget – just perfect timing for students off to university.
We were very sad to hear about the death of Seamus Heaney so it was important for us to pay tribute to this important poet.
And finally some more treasures from our biography collection – this time we have some unpleasant characters for you to find out about.
We have two new events programmes that can be collected from the library – events for all ages in September to December and the London History Festival. All of the events are also listed on our news and events page. Here’s a quick summary of what’s happening at Kensington Central Library in the next month or so:
Arthritis Care talk
Thursday 19 September, 1 to 2pm
Do you suffer with arthritis? Arthritis Care will give a talk on arthritis and pain – why you get pain and how to cope with it. There will also be a chance to ask questions.
Fashion – Press the Fast Forward Button
Tuesday 24 September, 6.30 to 8pm
Are you interested in the fashion industry? Thinking of starting a fashion business as a designer, retailer, importer or exporter? Then don’t miss this opportunity to hear from expert fashion management consultant David Jones and successful designer and entrepreneur Francesca Marcenaro. This session is in partnership with Colin Rutt from Portobello Business Centre.
Business information: professional resources made available for free from your library Thursday 26 September, 2 to 4pm at Kensington Central Reference Library
At this session we will guide you through how to use two great business research websites which are available free through your library: Mint UK and also Cobra. Mint UK provides access to a wealth of company information including company data, directors, news and market research. Cobra is a continually updated information resource for anyone who is running a small business or thinking of setting up a business. Here you will find practical information and advice such as start-up business ideas and profiles, guides to business support in different areas of the UK and much more.
You can book a FREE place to any of these events at Kensington Central Library in person, by calling 020 7361 3010 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Hello from us all at Kensington Central Library! Our blog post this month has a pieces from our lending and reference libraries which perfectly illustrates we have something for everyone.
A wizard and ghosts in the children’s library!
As the school holidays are in full swing we’ve had some amazing events for kids in our children’s library to support this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.
Mr Wiz the Wizard came to see us last week – he needed help building his creepy house in the children’s library. He had plenty of dinosaur eggs (Haribo eggs thankfully!) and balloon animals which he gave out to the children that helped him. The children had a great time as they also had the chance to spin plates, burst bubbles and sing songs.
We’ve been having a story and craft session every Thursday afternoon at 2pm since the start of the summer holidays. We’ve been reading some scary stories and creating some scary things which the children have loved. Last Thursday the children made ghosts by drawing round their hands and spiders from fingerprints. They also came up with some great names for their spiders – Vegeta and Ushar being two of them!
We’ve another story and craft session this Thursday (15 August) & we’ll be making witches – bring the kids along!
Headlines and back issues
Did you know that we keep a range of current newspapers and magazines in our libraries? We also have a treasure trove in our historical and special collections of back issues of not only current titles but also newspapers and magazines that have long since gone out of print.
Our most popular titles include:
Illustrated London News – going back to 1842
Microfiche of The Times – 1785 – 1997
Punch – going back to 1841
Harpers Bazaar – going back to 1950
Vanity Fair – going back to 1956
Vogue – going back to 1923
A full list of all the newspapers and magazines that we have and how far back we keep them can be found on our ‘Reference and information and special collections’ web page. If you want to check we have issue – do phone us on 020 7361 3010 so we can confirm that the newspaper or magazine you need is available.
Did you know we have newspapers and magazines for children and young adults too? We have reorganised the young adult magazines in the young adult library at Kensington Central Library so that the current issues are in some sturdy green folders and the back issues are now kept in box files on the shelves just behind where the current issues are. They now look a lot tidier and more importantly are more accessible.
Chelsea Library were delighted to welcome Wafa Tarnowska to the newly refurbished children’s library on Saturday 29 June.
Wafa was entranced by both the library and the welcome she received. She was here to read from her new translation of some of the stories from The Arabian Nights. The children themselves sat entranced as Wafa took them on a magic carpet ride to the Orient.
After a short introduction as to the origins of the stories, how they were collected from many countries, the life or death reason for their telling and of the first european translation into french three hundred years ago.Were there really one thousand and one tales?
Wafa, with much expression, began – our journey focused on the strong women characters which her own grandmother in the Lebanon had told her about.
We took off with ‘The Diamond Anklet’, which had echoes of the western fable ‘Cinderella’, the children were attentive with the promise of a follow-up quiz offering a large edition of her book as a prize for the winner.
The magic of eastern promise thrilled our listeners. A skilled story-teller she weaved in history and the traditional into the magic. She explained to the children Arabic words such as jjinn which is here translated as genie, at the same time keeping pace with the tale.
The children, and grown ups, wanted more, and Wafa weaved straight into the follow-up tale , which gives an unexpected twist to the traditional western fairy tale. The quiz worked well and Wafa was able to go amongst the children and explain and help them with the questions.
A winner was declared but everyone left feeling they had won a moment away from London – a trip through the window and into a land a thousand and one nights away.
June has been a busy month at Chelsea Library — over to the staff there to tell us more.
There hasn’t been a spare chair to sit on especially in the refurbished children’s library with its cool blue walls and sparkling windows. We held a story and craft event at the beginning of the month with a chicken theme. Chicken Licken went down well (nearly as well as that unfortunate chicken). It might be an idea to reread the stories beforehand and prepare for the sudden ending when the entire cast of animals are eaten by a fox in a waistcoat with a voice like Leslie Phillips. Diane designed some brilliant custard yellow chickens that rocked backwards and forwards. We had so many requests that we read the story again.
Last Thursday we hosted the first of our quiz afternoons in the Walker Room. We had a great turn out – lots of old friends and some new faces with hidden talents. The five teams slugged it out between bouts of tea, fruit juice and bread pudding. The A Team won with an impressive 30 out of a possible 35, even tackling the difficult trick question:
Has the United States of America ever had a King and , if so, who was he?
Answers in the comments section at the bottom of this piece please!
After the quiz there was a raffle and a sing song. We started the singing off with a rendition of The Lambeth Walk and it was followed byStanding on the Corner — a song about spending an afternoon on main street giving the girls the eye.
Vintage Guitars and Baby Rhyme Time
Baby rhyme time has been drawing big crowds; part of its popularity is the game of musical statues at the end giving carers and mothers the chance to dance as well as the children.
We’re now using a vintage guitar – a Danelectro in vivid ‘agent orange’ during the sessions. The children like the traditional songs but really respond to rock and roll – it gives them a great opportunity to stagger, dance and fall over. One little girl with a hearing aid enjoys the event because she can hear it quite clearly.
Diane Day, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Daniel Jeffreys, Customer Services Assistant
Great facts about Chelsea Reference Library
#3: The Walker Room
Behind the scenes of Chelsea Reference Library is the Walker Room, which is not only home to our archived magazines and newspapers, but is also where our expert staff run classes on how to find out about just about anything using our online databases – from Berg Fashion Library to Ancestry to business start-up information.
Check out the events page for the next classes and you can find full details of Berg Fashion Library, Ancestry and business information on our online databases page.
Another month has rapidly passed and we reach the mid-point of the year. As holiday season is approaching, students are cramming for final exams, people are preparing for their summer holidays and the British public look forward to the birth of a Royal baby, here is what has been happening at Brompton Library since we last posted.
(If you’re joining us for the first time, this is the monthly blog post from Brompton Library that highlights some of the events, activities and services that our library provides.)
Books on Prescription
June saw the launch of Books on Prescription scheme in which healthcare professionals welcomed members of the public into our meeting room and offered a range of free advice, health checks, head massages and free fruit deserts for the afternoon.
This was a chance to promote an initiative to help people to use self-help books to manage common conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress through reading books based on CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I got a chance to speak with a few patrons who were really impressed with the ideas and advice that was on offer. Another positive day in the library!
Bear masks, Dear Zoo and a new Children’s Laureate
The Brompton Children’s Library half term craft event was well attended. We read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and had colouring pictures of the bears out walking and another of baby bear discovering Goldilocks in his bed! We made bear masks so we could be pretend to be bears as well.
The first Saturday of every month we have a story and craft session. This month we read Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. We made a surprise picture with a flap like the illustrations in Dear Zoo. Everyone liked the dog picture we had to go under the flap. We are very pleased to hear that Malorie Blackman is the new Children’s Laureate. We have displayed books of hers that we have in stock.
Senior Customer Services Assistant
Our monthly reading group met and discussed The Thread by Victoria Hislop this month.
Set in Thessaloniki, it is as much a biography of the city’s turbulent history as it is of the characters within the book. Set in the current time, a young man is considering relocating there or moving back to the UK. Surprised by his grandparent’s devotion to this city, they start to recount their own lives, through war, desolation, strife, and love.
This is a powerfully moving story and it was a gripping read. Victoria Hislop has really done her research into this place. The real events and politics of this country and the varying cultures of their land ripped into this city – its survival of all that happens to it is inspiring in itself. Everyone really enjoyed this book and it sparked off a debate about politics. That’s what I love about our reading group, we can dovetail into fascinating discussions – strong views are welcomed!
The only thing which we did find disappointing about the book was that it tended to go off into a Mills and Boon ending, where things got tied up very neatly. Overall though we all thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.
Next month we’ll be reading ‘Various Pets Alive and Dead’ by Marina Lewycka. I am really looking forward to this! Details of when and where we meet can be found on the reading groups page on our website.