Books we love…

To celebrate Shakespeare Week, we are reviewing a play we love…HAMLET – the best ever written who-done-it tragedy!

This week’s blog post is written by Zvezdana, revealing some interesting facts and background about classic Shakespearean mystery story. 

He is young, handsome, clever, eloquent, honest, well-educated; he is rich, and he is a prince. What could possibly go wrong in this young man’s life?  

Well, firstly, his father dies in suspicious circumstances.  

Secondly, only two months later, his mother re-marries; swept from her feet, like a teenage girl, full of love – for her brother-in-law!   

Spies are everywhere, and the prince is suddenly questioning everything and everyone – his mother, his uncle/ “father”, his girlfriend, his friends from university, the ghost of his late father, and even questions his own existence!

The murderers of his father will not cease at anything. His life is in imminent danger, unless, he could fake his madness.   

Will he be able to solve his father’s murder and punish the culprits, before they silence him?  

Wow! The best Nordic Noir crime writers could not have done it better!  

William Shakespeare wrote ‘The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’, often shortened to ‘Hamlet’, between 1599 and 1601.  

This revenge tragedy is Shakespeare’s longest play and it is considered one of the most powerful and influential works of world literature.  

Richard Burbage, from the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, was the first actor to play Hamlet in 1601.

Since that time, for the next four hundred years (and counting), it has been every famous actor’s dream to play that role.  

Hamlet is available to borrow from our libraries in multiple formats. Click on the follow link to view our catalogue:  

Obtain your free library card here:$N?pc=ILSWS_RBKC


Books we love…

…Playwrights we love!

In preparation for Shakespeare Week, Zvezdana from Chelsea Library has given us the context, history and importance of Shakespeare in today’s world, as well as her experience of using Shakespeare’s works to engage with our communities.  We’ve also got an intriguing activity too! 

Over to Zvezdana to tell us more… 

If you were not aware, Shakespeare Week is almost upon us (15-21 March 2021). It is a national annual celebration giving primary school children opportunities to enrich their early experiences of Shakespeare. This celebration has been organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in collaboration with many other organisations, writers, actors, illustrators… The most important partnership is with the schools, parents and children.  

This year all the activities are online. Visit the website, register and enjoy the stories, art, craft and various fun materials prepared for you, available all year round – perfect whether school is in, or out. (

Perhaps someone would ask – why Celebrate Shakespeare? 

He lived 400 years ago, and his language and his style of writing are so old-fashioned, so complicated and difficult to understand. NO! Completely wrong assumption!  “Shakespeare’s language can cast a light on the complexity of human emotions and is a wonderful way to explore and understand our own and others’ feelings.” 

Many British children encounter Shakespeare only in their teens as a mandatory topic in secondary schools. Therefore, Shakespeare Week opens the door to Shakespeare and ensures that children are given a chance to have a great first experience with one of the world’s most famous playwrights. 

Do you know that Shakespeare is a named author on the curriculum in 65% of countries, studied by around half of the world’s schoolchildren every year? And if you were not aware, William Shakespeare has been hailed as the UK’s greatest cultural export?  

And what about Shakespeare’s language!? Many words were invented by Shakespeare, introduced to the us through his plays! Can you spot in this short text any words that were coined by Shakespeare? 

Maria’s birthplace was an old farmhouse. She shared her bedroom with two siblings. It was a gloomy and noiseless late evening when she tiptoed downstairs and heard her aunt’s gossip about an alligator found in the well.”  

                                                              You will find the answer at the bottom of this blog. 

If you are too young to read Shakespeare’s plays, find in libraries retold versions, or read information books about his life and life in the Elizabethan era. Arguably, Shakespeare’s biggest achievement was not writing the sonnets or Hamlet, but, plainly surviving his first year in plague-ridden England. We do not even know for sure when he was born. By tradition, it is agreed to be 23 April, St George’s Day. This is the national day of England and, coincidentally also the date on which Shakespeare died fifty-two years later. Since Shakespeare was born under the old Julian calendar, not the Gregorian, there are many very curious combinations coming out of the calendar chaos! Check Bill Bryson’s book “Shakespeare” about that and many other interesting, inquisitive and eccentric facts from that time. 

To conclude, I am happy and privileged to meet some young enthusiastic readers while running Chatterbooks. On 6th of March we had a great Shakespeare themed Chatterbooks session- All the World’s a Stage. The children showed great knowledge about Shakespeare’s time, his comedies and his tragedies. Twelve years old, Maximilian Lubin recorded Puck’s famous soliloquy, ‘If we shadows have offended’, from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. You can listen to his audio on Our Community is Reading. Thank you, Max.   

To reward the Chatterbookers, I invited a special guest – an actress, Maya Barcot, who has performed a few Shakespeare roles in the theatre – Titania and Hermia in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Rosalind in ‘As you Like it’ and Lady Macbeth.  

Image of staff with special guest Maya Barcot!

Maya talked about why we’re still doing Shakespeare today and performed, especially for us, Titania’s “forgeries of jealousy” monologue.  Titania and Oberon’s quarrel can be seen as the driving forces behind the climate change.   

So, if you didn’t know, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is not “only” about love and mischief! Titania certainly knows the best! 

Why not have a browse of the rest of our Shakespeare collection in our libraries catalogue –

Please join us next week for more interesting insights into the world of Shakespeare! 

ANSWER: Maria’s birthplace was an old farmhouse. She shared her bedroom with two siblings.  It was a gloomy and noiseless late evening when she tiptoed downstairs and  heard her aunt’s gossip about an alligator found in the well. 

Summer in London for Kids

So many of you enjoyed the blog post last December from Kensington Mums, Christmas in London for Kids that when they offered to write something similar for the summer  we said yes please! And if you’re looking to see what’s happening in our libraries this summer – check out our Summer Reading Challenge events page.

Now over to Kensington Mums….

Kensington Mums logo
Kensington Mums logo

It’s the Summer Holidays, that means six weeks of entertaining your little ones while ‘trying’ to keep sane. Apparently, it only takes 66 days to form a new habit, so summer is the perfect time to be forming good learning routines.  Just saying :)

It is also a beautiful endless summer waiting to be filled with memories. Here are our local picks of more than a dozen things to do with kids this summer in London. If you are staying in the capital then read on as no stone was left unturned in my quest to find the best local activities and places to visit to keep your little ones entertained this Summer. There are loads of fun things to do with your little ones this summer, most of which are FREE!

Kensington Mums summer drinks invitation
Kensington Mums summer drinks invitation

Kensington Mums is having a social networking event on the 16 August with the lovely members of the group. Dads are welcome too. Get in touch to register. This event is by invitation only. Enjoy your holidays and let us know what you are planning to get up to and have enjoyed the most by joining the conversation on our Facebook Page, any recommendations or suggestions are also welcome. To be kept in the loop you can follow us on Twitter @KensingtonMums

What’s on this summer for you and your little ones

Ecology Centre in Holland Park
Ecology Centre in Holland Park

London’s parks

The sun is shining, enjoy some outdoor fun in our local parks and paddling pools.

Ecology Holiday Activity Programme 2013 at Holland Park. Great sessions morning and afternoon for your little ones to explore nature’s beauty and learn with hands on activities.

Diana Memorial Playground. Little ones can play in ‘Peter Pan’ themed playground with a huge wooden pirate ship and teepees to explore and for the kids to run around and let some steam off. Expect long queues during peak times.

Diana Memorial Fountain is great for little ones to splash around and just around the corner you will find the Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool which are great for both adults and children. Expect long queues during peak times.

Kensington Memorial Park not far from the buzzing streets of Portobello Market is heaven for little ones especially in these hot summer days. The modern, interactive water play area which consists of 22 different water-play items. There is also a sand pit, slides and a rocket frame for kids to climb onto. Highly recommend it! Just don’t forget your swim suit and towel!

Kyoto Garden in Holland Park
Kyoto Garden in Holland Park

Holland Park also has a lovely sandy play area for little ones and don’t forget to have a nice walk in the beautiful Kyoto Garden.

Shape Up in Holland Park, every Wednesday until 4 September as part of the Council’s summer programme of health activities for adults. There is something on every weekday.  Whether you fancy toning your body with Tai Chi or using the new outdoor gym, or enjoying a healthy walk in the leafy environs of Holland Park there’s something for everybody. Prices vary from free to £5 and the events take place late mornings and lunchtimes. For more information and a full schedule please contact : 020 7938 8182 or email:

One of our Royal Parks
One of our Royal Parks

Experience the magic of the Royal Parks! They are organising summer holiday activities, from guided walks to nature talks to family learning and discovery days. Click here for family experiences and here for children experiences.

Hanging basket at Opera Holland Park
Hanging basket at Opera Holland Park

The Opera Holland Park 2013 Season is here including Madame Butterfly and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  as well as Luna Cinema which presents Summer Cinema at Opera Holland Park – classic films on the big screen at London’s most beautiful theatre.

Museums and galleries

Victoria and Albert Museum are hosting many summer activities, including the Imagination Station, Pop-Up Performances and Drop in Design. While you are there, young and old alike will enjoy paddling pool in the courtyard.

Family workshops at Saatchi Gallery are running on 17 and 24 August. Little ones will exploring the current exhibitions Paper and New Order and go on an interactive tour of the exhibition followed by a fun, creative workshop in response to the artist of the week. Booking required. Please note these workshops are suitable for families with children aged 3 to 12 years old.

The Museum of London are organising lots of family fun sessions including a musical playground, interactive performances and storytelling sessions.

Free Theatre – More London Free Festival 2013. It’s free, it’s family friendly and it celebrates the local community. There are no tickets – just take your seat, first come first served! Every Wednesday to Sunday in August experience award-winning Theatre from London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season.

The Museum of Childhood has Summer holiday activities, Thursday  25 July – Monday 2 September and a Family Chess Club, Saturdays 22 June, 6 and 20 July 3, 17 and 31 August.

Sensational butterflies!
Sensational butterflies!

Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum. Read our full review here.

Free Drop-in Workshops: The Drawing Station at Somerset House, every Saturday in August.

Science Museum Live: The Energy Show. 22 July – 31 August 2013: throughout the summer holidays. While you are there, don’t miss the 3D Summer at the Science Museum from Thursday 25 July to Sunday 1 September 2013.

Fashion Rules! – Fun Fridays at Kensington Palace this summer. 26 July and 2,9,16,23 August 11.00 – 16.00.

Head to Covent Gardens and visit the London Transport Museum,over the holidays they have organised some family station activities from 6 July as well as demonstrations, story time and make and take workshops.

Gallery Pavilion 2013
Gallery Pavilion 2013

Visit the Serpentine Gallery to visit the Gallery Pavilion 2013 which is designed by multi award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Open Studio at the Tate Modern every weekend and Thursdays and Fridays in the school holidays.

And the rest

Despicable Me 2
Despicable Me 2

Escape the heat and head into your local cinema to watch Despicable Me 2. Its great family movie the whole family will enjoy.

Little Creatures family festival at London Zoo. From Friday 30 August – Sunday 1 September, ZSL London Zoo will open its doors for a weekend of big fun for your little ones.

Westfield White City are hosting ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ sessions and ‘Kids in the Garden’ every Monday and Wednesday from 12 noon to 5pm and Storytelling at the Tipi every Tuesday 11am  to 4pm.

Enjoy your holidays and remember: every-summer-has-a-story-257x300