Prep School Library
"Regular book clubs and other opportunities to make the most of the exceptional library facilities are well attended and much enjoyed by pupils." ISI Inspection 2017
At the heart of all library activities is the desire to create a passion for reading; everyone - staff, students and parents are encouraged to share their literary experiences.
A new Prep School library was opened in November 2013, and is now even busier and more vibrant place than the previous one, with its colourful displays, attractive shelving and furniture. The extensive range of books and multi media resources are selected to support the teaching and learning throughout the school. The addition of four laptops and an outside story garden, featuring our 'Picture Book Benches' enhance the facilities.
Every class has at least one lesson a week in the library and it is always full at break and lunchtimes with pupils reading, studying and browsing. The library is staffed by a qualified librarian and a part-time assistant, so help is always at hand.
21 Lower Third pupils have committed to reading the books on the shortlist of this year’s Carnegie Award. The group meet every Thursday and share their views on the 8 novels, awarding points for the plot, characterisation and style of each. The level of debate is lively, and so far no clear favourite for the group has emerged, but they are clearly enjoying experiencing a relatively new genre of “verse novel”, of which there are no less than 3 examples on the shortlist. A selection of pupils from this group will be chosen to take part in the local schools Carnegie debate which will take place on Monday 17th June at St Edmunds College.
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Book clubs for three different age groups are held regularly throughout the term; attendance is very high and discussions are lively and informed. Author visits are also very much part of the library programme, with our most recent visitors including Joseph Coelho, Marcus Alexander and Robin Stevens, to name just a few of the authors who met with pupils during the last Festival of Literature; earlier in the year we also enjoyed visits from Ross Montgomery and Lucy Saxon, and Skype meetings with a number of authors including Gill Lewis. In the past couple of years we have also enjoyed visits from a wide range of authors including Chris Bradford, Rick Riordan, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo and Steve Cole and we look forward to welcoming Andy Griffiths in October 2018.
In the Library we celebrate several landmarks throughout the children’s book year, with special events taking place to mark National Poetry Day, National Children’s Book Week and World Book Day. Pupils also cast their votes for the annual CILIP children's book awards and take part in the national Kids’ Lit Quiz and in Write Path, an international collaborative story writing project.
Every year we run a cross-curricular Library Challenge in the Prep School, incorporating a big event happening either in the outside world, such as the London Olympics in 2012, or a large school event, such as the Festival of Literature. This year pupils were invited to make models from A History of Architecture in 100 Buildings, the latest book by our Festival guest Dan Cruickshank, who then acted as judge at the end of the competition.
The Library often runs cross-curricular events, linking up with other departments in the Prep School. Last summer, for example, we teamed up with the English Department for a Murder Mystery challenge, with pupils working collaboratively to support their understanding and appreciation of the detective writing genre. The idea was for pupils to combine fun and learning!
Form 2 (Year 6) pupils have also enjoyed researching a topic of their choice in Curiosity Club, on the subject of either History, Science, Nature, Culture, Human Rights or Sport. At the end of the challenge, pupils presented their projects to the rest of the group and the results were fantastic and greatly varied: topics ranged from the seige of Troy to how to make an oil lamp!
Reading challenges, often in the form of house competitions, are used to encourage pupils to be as wide ranging and adventurous in their selection as possible. Last summer pupils were invited to take part in the Summer Library Challenge, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt", which resulted in some fantastic projects being brought into school at the start of the academic year. Their work was displayed in the library, revealing the effort, originality and creativity put into these outstanding projects, which ranged from photo diaries of travelling bears in places as far afield as the top of Ben Nevis, theatre shows in London and Lanzarote. There were also lots of different versions of the Michael Rosen poem, which see pupils going on a ghost hunt, a person hunt or a hare hunt.
Festival of Literature 2018 - Prep School Events
The Festival of Literature, inaugurated and run by the Prep School Librarian, Rosie Pike, has now become an annual fixture, with an impressive line up of literary luminaries. The aim of this week long Festival stems very much from the philosophy behind the library, which is to fuel a passion for all things literary in young and old.
Prep School pupils enjoyed meeting a wide variety of authors during this year’s Festival of Literature, each one offering something different. Shell pupils were enthralled by the extremely elegant Jeanne Willis who delighted us all by sharing a sneak preview of her new book, Not Just A Book. Prep School pupil Violet enjoyed meeting Jeanne because she inspired her to be an author, while
Shell pupils then saw Martin Brown, Illustrator of the Horrible Histories series who began his talk by delivering some “plain horrible” and some “horribly inconvenient” facts from the series of books which this year are celebrating their 25th anniversary. A main focus of his session was to show that everyone can draw, and that art does not have to be realistic, something that Prep School pupil Patrick really enjoyed, commenting, "He gave me more courage to draw...even though I...can't draw very well". Upper 3rd pupil Imogen found Martin's talk "engaging and interesting" and really enjoyed acting out important events in history.
Martin also presented the Bishop’s Stortford Picture Book Award, which this year was won by Clare Foges and Al Murphy with Bathroom Boogie. This is a second win for the partnership, and was quite clearly a favourite amongst the 16 schools which had taken part. In second place was Kevin by Rob Biddulph, and in third place was the 40th anniversary edition of Dogger by Shirley Hughes. Lower Shell pupils and those from other participating primary and secondary schools enjoyed the company of several of the shortlisted authors and illustrators in the Picture Book Award Ceremony. They introduced us to a cast of pigs, wolves, grannies, cats, frogs and a rather dim dog, and the audience learned how to draw Kevin, an imaginary friend, and boogied on down to the Bathroom Boogie.
Form 1 pupils celebrated the beginning of National Storytelling Week when Margaret Bateson-Hill transported them to a land of dragons and snow, and entranced them with her intricate papercutting.
All three book clubs had the opportunity of discussing their book club choice with the author. For Form 1 this was the awesome Jo Cotterill, who in her session in the afternoon not only demonstrated her own superhero powers in her writing, but gave a live science lesson as well on the conductivity of electricity.
Form 2 pupils saw a different author each day of the Festival week, but one of their highlights was meeting Robin Stevens author of The Guggenheim Mystery and the Murder Most Unladylike Series. Robin also commented on “how lovely it was to see how enthusiastic the BSC kids are, and especially how full that book group was”. Jack and Francesca in Lower 3rd both enjoyed how Robin involved the pupils in her talk by helping them to write their murder mysteries, while James was fascinated to find out where she got her ideas from for her stories.
Form 2 pupils also had a poetry lesson with a difference as CLPE award winning poet, Joseph Coelho shared poetry techniques with them – through the medium of his poetry.
Upper and Lower 3rd saw Marcus Alexander, who is, according to U3FJ pupils, the “coolest” author ever to visit Bishop’s Stortford College and his talk and workshop encouraged pupils to live life to the full, whether this be through deep sea diving, parachuting from 30.000 feet or engaging in martial arts! By including such experiences in his writing, his novels are indeed action packed and adrenaline fuelled. Aruna in Upper 3rd was inspired because Marcus "encouraged us to go for our dreams" while Henry liked that "he was full of energy" and Titus adored his books, calling them "interesting and unique".
The final speaker for the week was the amazing feminist activist Laura Bates. Laura explained to her L3rd and U3rd audience why she had started the Everyday Sexism Project and everyone left with a better understanding of feminism, and more importantly of the need to act on the issues it raises. Lucy in Upper 3rd was impressed that Laura spoke without looking at any notes, revealing, she felt, that "she didn't need notes, she spoke about how she felt and how all people feel". Imogen found Laura's talk inspiring, since she gave people "the confidence to open up about things people had said or done to them".
A huge thank you must go to the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre for supporting all of the Festival events with amazing displays of each author’s books. And, just in case the pupils hadn’t seen enough books throughout the week, Marilyn Brocklehurst inspired the children to discover even more in the book sale in the FLT on Friday. Lola in Upper 3rd says the Book Fair is her favourite part of the Festival because she loves the "great variety of books and being able to find the perfect books" and feels "so lucky to have that opportunity".
So plans for next year are already underway! As we shall be celebrating both the 10th year of the Festival and the 150th anniversary of the College we are hoping to make this an even more spectacular event. Any suggestions of previous Festival favourites or of new speakers would be welcome – please email Rosie Pike with any ideas, or indeed feedback about this year.
Logging into the Library
There is a link to the College Library website in the Quick Links at the top of this page or here. You can log in and check what is available in the Prep and Senior School libraries, what you have on loan, renew your loans and reserve new titles. You will need to have asked the Librarian for a username and password before using this link.