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'Proud' anthology of poems, stories and art

Posted By Tanja M. McGuffin- Jennings, 05 April 2019
Updated: 05 April 2019
To celebrate the launch of their 'Proud' anthology of poems, stories and art Stripes Publishing offered LGBT groups in schools a chance to pitch to win, read & review & hype about on social media 10 copies of the book & bunting for LGBT month to create a display for their libraries. I pitched for our college's Gay Straight Alliance group and we were lucky enough to be one of the ones chosen.# My friend and colleague at Colaiste Feirste was also kind enough to invite a group of us over to meet transgender author Juno Dawson, stay for a talk and Q & A and do some rainbow painting. One of the pupils also designed identity aesthetics for a flag which they were allowed to keep and it is currently in the library. Here are some extracts from the pupils' reviews. I've also attached their art work in response to the stories they read. The Courage of Dragons "Really enjoyable story that allowed me to gain an insight into the struggles of non-binary teens. The story was told in a way that was fun and more enjoyable for someone who likes fantasy books. My favourite part was the fact that it was told like an adventurous quest that really made the characters feel like heroes and inspired me to really want to make a change to the way things work in my own school." Dive Bar What did you think of it? I thought it was strange but I really liked it. Your favourite part? I like the repetition because it gives you the idea that the event is being relived over and over. It’s very chaotic and the art reflects it. I think the room could be a metaphor to reflect chaos in the mind. I was able to relate to it. Dive Bar What did you think of it? I thought it was really cool. The imagery reminds me of being on a stage. I think the contracting corridors could portray how a room shrinks when anxiety takes hold of you. I thought the art work was really impressive too. Your favourite part? The windowless woman breaking down walls within herself was really vivid and I thought about the imagery of a porcelain doll breaking – how fragile feelings can be. Anything you hated? Nothing. What would you say to the author if you could? Does your poem describe how someone feels when they have an anxiety attack? Penguins What did you think of it? I loved it. I thought it was a beautiful story told from a realistic perspective. Your favourite part? The part at the end with Aaron when they came out to each other. The part describing the penguins which made me laugh. I want to read more Simon James Green because I enjoyed it so much. Anything you hated? No What would you say to the author if you could? Where did your inspiration for the story come from? Did you use your own experiences to reflect what the characters felt? What did you read? Love Poems to the City What did you think of it? I really enjoyed the story. I loved the art work, the imagery, the use of poetry and the relevant storyline. Your favourite part? The ending because of the sense of unity, togetherness, hope and rainbow imagery reflecting the LGBT story. Anything you hated? Nothing What would you say to the author if you could? Thank you for writing such a relevant and powerful story in such a beautiful way. What do you like most about the city of Dublin?

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Exploring the Gothic in 19th Century Literature

Posted By Tanja M. McGuffin- Jennings, 05 April 2019
I was asked by an English teacher on Wednesday to do a presentation /talk on Gothic Literature of the 19th Century (I studied it at university) as an overview for her fourth years focusing on Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Dracula & Jekyll and Hyde. It took place yesterday. It included outlining Gothic themes and reading extracts from the selected texts. I put together a PowerPoint focusing on definition, location, psychology, central themes & a brief analysis of each of the texts. I also included movie clips and a look at Edgar Allan Poe. The response was positive so I was asked to reprise the talk at the end of the day for her 5th years and present it to classes next week also. It was great as all the enthusiasm I felt for the Gothic module at university came flooding back to me and I was able to share my insights with the students. They were particularly enthralled by Mary Shelley's story. They asked if it was real! I thought I would post about the talk as it is an example of how librarians can support teaching and learning. I'm also happy that following the presentation Poe and Wuthering Heights went straight out on loan.

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When the SPINE Festival came to Petts Wood (7th – 16th March 2019) by Jenny Hawke

Posted By Elizabeth F. Beverley, 29 March 2019

“Now in its 5th year, SPINE festival is a partnership between London Libraries and Apples and Snakes, England’s leading Spoken Word organisation. The festival celebrates creativity and community in libraries across London. SPINE 2019 offers creative events and opportunities for young people enabling them to explore their local library and the pertinent theme of wellbeing in unexpected ways. The theme of SPINE 2019 is wellbeing.”

When the Children and Families Manager in Bromley asked me to plan, promote and run all the SPINE Festival events in Petts Wood Library, I felt a massive rush of excitement. Later, reality kicked in and I wondered how I would manage it all and could it be achieved. Luckily I have a fantastic team at Petts Wood and all our SPINE events proved to be successful and enjoyed by all. The ‘SPINE’ in the title refers to a spine of a book. Normally, events for the SPINE Festival take place in a larger library so it was wonderful to have them in a smaller branch. Funding for SPINE is mainly from The Arts Council and this year events were run in 17 London boroughs. In addition there is also funding for library staff training and in Bromley we will be having training in running successful teenage reading groups from an independent trainer who specialises in children’s and young people’s reading.

Meetings and Networking

A number of meetings were planned and set up by Apples and Snakes at their base in The Albany Centre. I found these meeting to be really useful and informative; it was great meeting other library staff from different boroughs and sharing our ideas and initiatives for SPINE.

SPINE Planning Group

I have two very active teen groups and some of the older teens volunteered to form a SPINE Planning Group they were incredibly helpful during the planning stages but also the promotional and implementation phases. For the first time Apples and Snakes wanted to use peer assessors to help with the evaluation of the events. My group were asked if they were able to be the first peer assessors and to hand out the questionnaires, ask specific questions and record the answers. This worked extremely well and I’m sure that young people talking to others around the same age encouraged fuller answers. Apples and Snakes were incredibly supportive and we were visited by Fiona and Jackie who talked to us about promotion and evaluation.


Links with Secondary Schools and other organisations I started promoting the SPINE Festival in December amongst colleagues in other Bromley libraries. I asked the network if I could go along to their meetings and talk about the Spine Festival and the events we had planned. They were all very keen to hear about it as ‘wellbeing’ amongst their students was high up on their agenda. Once the posters were ready for the events I sent these to the schools. I feel I have strong links with local primary school and pre-schools in my area but was anxious to establish links with secondary schools. The SPINE Festival gave a focus to this and I hoped that new links would be forged and maintained. I had visited one school’s shadowing group and a class came to see the show ‘Crowded’ performed by The Half Moon Theatre.

PR Toolkit and other materials

In the New Year we were sent a PR Toolkit from Apples and Snakes which was incredibly useful and had a number of templates for posters, press releases and examples of tweets, posts etc. for social media. Apples and Snakes also provided some tailor made posters for all our open events which we were very pleased with and felt they were eye catching and visually attractive. Stickers and bookmarks were used for promoting purposes but also at the events themselves. Bromley Libraries has a very active Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. However it didn’t have an Instagram and I realised that we really needed this in order to reach out to a younger audience which was our target market. So earlier this year Bromley set up an Instagram page and we started to use it to let people know about SPINE.


At Petts Wood we have a huge window which is great for displays but is a large area to fill. This was a bit of a challenge when it came to SPINE. We had the posters promoting our events which we managed to enlarge and piece together, but we need something else. During the meetings with Apples and Snakes it was suggested that we promote the Shelf Help books (which are part of the Reading Agency’s Reading Well initiative), specifically aimed at young people and their wellbeing, so fitted in perfectly with SPINE this year. We didn’t want to put the actual books in the window as they warp due to the sunlight and obviously we wanted the books on display so inside the library easily accessible to borrow. I emailed the Reading Agency and asked for permission to copy the book jackets, laminate and put in the window. They were more than happy to oblige and even sent us a file with all the book jackets attached. This was great and gave a brilliant focus to the display. Other displays were mainly in the teen section and involved the Shelf Help books, posters promoting the events and post it notes suggesting ways to relax.

Events Mr Gee -“Excellent performance. Illuminating poetry.” Our first event on 7th March (World Book Day – hence I was dressed up as Pippi Longstocking) was held in the evening from 6.30-7.30. Mr Gee is a performance poet and shared some of his brilliant poems with us. -“It was very well performed and inspiring.”

Performance: Crowded -“It was a new way to raise awareness about topics which people tend to shy away from. I also really liked the songs and how they flowed so well with the dialogue.” On the 8th March three poets from the Half Moon Theatre Company came to Petts Wood to perform ‘Crowded’. The library is classed as a neighbourhood library so isn’t very large at all and I was quite concerned about the whole of a Yr 9 class fitting in. We have had primary school classes but they usually sit on the floor, I realised the Yr 9 students would need chairs! Apples and Snakes understood my concerns and talked to Half Moon who sketched out a plan for me on how to arrange the seating, this was great and I felt much happier about the whole thing. We did need to close the Children’s area for the afternoon but we made sure the picture books were accessible elsewhere. We had never had a play performed in the library before so it was very exciting and the performance proved to be incredibly powerful and moving. The feedback was very positive and encouraging: -“It was unique, and told a story in a very interesting and fun way. It was very informative on mental health.”

Exam Advice Sessions -“It was a great chance to speak about how exams make you feel. Also gave some great tips to help with preparation for exams.” These were held throughout the Festival and were drop in sessions. I asked the School Librarians network if anyone was able to come and talk about exams and stress etc. One librarian called Jacqui volunteered and is also an exam invigilator which meant she was able to give some practical insights on the structure and format of exams. All these sessions went well and I hope that some of the young people who came to these sessions feel slightly less anxious about exams as a result. For myself and, I believe, the other adults too attending gained a real understanding into the worries and stresses that exams bring to young people. Jacqui was incredibly helpful and we produced a short leaflet with some tips and advice on preparing for exams and also some useful revision tips. We also promoted the Shelf Help books and told people who came long about the two reading groups we run at a number of Bromley Libraries including Petts Wood. Plus there were snacks! -“It was very informative and eye-opening. I learnt some good techniques to handle exam stress”

Margaret Bateson-Hill -“Interesting, inclusive, fun and informative. It was engaging and I enjoyed it.” Our final event at Petts Wood was an author talk given by Margaret Bateson-Hill. This was very interesting as Margaret normally writes for much younger children, but her work in progress is a novel aimed at younger teens. Here’s a little bit about the forthcoming book: ‘Tears for a Bluebird’ explores a young carer’s (Sam) mixed emotions about his parents and the impact that has on his own life by letting him escape to the fantasy world of Golden Sands, made from the lost and forgotten debris that has fallen through the cracks of our world. The seemingly wonderful world of Golden Sands slowly turns threatening and demanding and why do the Guardians want his tears? To overcome them Sam needs to discover his own inner strengths and in doing so come to terms with his own deepest hopes and fears.’ It was fascinating to hear how Margaret was putting this book together, she showed us her sketchbooks and mind maps and how she had drawn inspiration from various museums and galleries. We had an interesting discussion during the session on how books, particularly fantasy books can take you away from your worries and the actual act of reading can make you feel much calmer and relaxed. -“It was my first author talk, so it was good to hear about her process.” -“Very interesting and informative about the new book. I really enjoyed it.”

Petts Wood Library were delighted to be given the opportunity to host the SPINE Festival – it was a rewarding, inspiring and positive experience for the young people who came along to the events, the Petts Wood team and myself. I’m very grateful to Apples and Snakes for their great resources and their advice and expertise on running a festival.

Jenny Hawke, Library Manager, Petts Wood Library, Bromley

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Secondary school librarians in partnership

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 15 March 2019
The importance of networking and building partnerships was in evidence at the first "cross border" Calderdale/Kirklees secondary schools network meeting earlier this week. Hosted by Calderdale Libraries, this gave delegates the opportunity for a tour of Halifax Library, which opened its doors in 2017. In addition to staff from Calderdale Libraries and SLS, delegates included librarians from Kirklees Libraries and Gillian Bennet, Subject Librarian at Kirklees College, who gave a presentation on the new Level 3 Apprenticeship in Library Information and Archive Services. The new apprenticeship will be rolled out at the college in September 2019. The 18-month course reflects the nature of a profession which is changing; in part, as an anticipated 45% of the workforce is due to retire in the next decade. The apprenticeship has already attracted attention and enquiries from local authorities across the country, in addition to the MOD and Bodleian Library. Secondary school librarians also had the chance to share good practice and to hear more about Kirklees Libraries' project work in the areas of mental health and well-being and early intervention for pupils at risk of exclusion. I was pleased to update everyone on the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, as the 2019 shortlists will be announced on 19th March. The meeting was so productive that we are aiming for another joint network meeting in the summer term at the new Springfield Sixth Form Centre (one of Kirklees College's six centres), Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Tags:  professional development  school libraries 

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Kirklees World Book Day Quiz 2019

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 08 March 2019
World Book Day has come and gone and it was yet another successful Kirklees World Book Day Quiz event at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday afternoon. A total of 32 teams participated in the 7th edition of this annual celebration of reading for pleasure. The 20-strong reading list featured fiction, poetry, non-fiction, picture books and novellas and the 2019 trophy was eventually awarded to the team from Birkby Junior School...for the fifth successive year! Teams from Colne Valley High School and King James' School finished in second and third place, respectively, with a tense tie-break for third place. Pupils from Heckmondwike Primary School and Crowlees CE Junior and Infant School narrowly missed out but gave very strong performances. The ongoing success of the annual quiz is a testament to the hard work and commitment of booksplus, Kirklees' schools library service, who organise and promote the event. They continue to deliver an invaluable service to local schools despite the challenges faced by SLSs across the country. The quiz also underlines the importance of reading for pleasure, that children are still reading; they enjoy and appreciate the power of a good story and deserve access to a high-quality, diverse range of books.

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Children's Book Awards 2019 Shortlist

Posted By Jacob Hope, 25 February 2019

The Children's Book Awards run by the Federation of Children's Book Groups and the only National awards where the judging is done entirely by children, have announced their shortlists.  We congratulate all authors and illustrators on the lists.

Books for Younger Children

MIXED, written and illustrated by Arree Chung, published by Macmillan Children’s Books
The Last Chip: The Story of a Very Hungry Pigeon, written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie, published by Templar
The Wondrous Dinosaurium, written by John Condon and illustrated by Steve Brown, published by Maverick
What Do You Do if Your house is a Zoo, written by John Kelly and illustrated by Steph Laberis, published by Little Tiger Press

Books for Younger Readers

Funny Kid Stand Up, written and illustrated by Matt Stanton, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Mr Penguin and The Fortress of Secrets, written and illustrated by Alex T Smith, published by Hodder Children’s Books
The Dog Who Lost His Bark, written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by PJ Lynch, published by Walker Books

Books for Older Readers

Armistice Runner,
written by Tom Palmer, published by Barrington Stoke
The Light Jar, written by Lisa Thompson, published by Scholastic
The Storm Keeper’s Island, written by Catherine Doyle, published by Bloomsbury  

Vote online here -

Sarah Stuffins, Children’s Book Award Coordinator says ‘Last year saw the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ 50th year, and more children than ever engaging with the Children’s Book Award. This year’s shortlist really does have something for everything and shows the incredible breadth of talent in the children’s book world. We are in a golden age of children’s publishing - something to be celebrated - and access to books has never been more important. We congratulate all our Top Ten authors and can’t wait to find out who is the children’s choice this year. We’re thrilled to have BookLife on board again this year as our sponsors – many thanks to them and all the publishers who submit books for their support of the award.’

Tags:  book awards  reading  reading for pleasure 

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Posted By Tanja M. McGuffin- Jennings, 31 January 2019
#BookFlix has taken librarians by storm on Twitter. It originated from an instagram post by author Sara Rosett which quickly took flight on the wings of super librarian Lucas J Maxwell generating an inspiring Book Riot Article [] which was transmitted to the librarian community of tsundokuists via LJM's newsletter 'The Portable Magic Dispenser'. It is a perfect example of the power of collaboration and sharing as it has resulted in many posts of displays ranging from electronic to craftwork to printed with different categories featuring 'New Releases', 'Trending', 'Bingeworthy Series' & 'We Recommend.' The idea of using popular culture to hook young readers is appealing. It is also the perfect opportunity to showcase exciting new fiction, debut authors, old favourites and addictive series chosen by students in your library. Furthermore by tagging authors it lets them know that their writing is appreciated. WCB Library's effort is attached. Carnegie winners, historical fiction, fantasy, action, drama, adventure , mythology and reality reads are all featured. Favourites chosen by pupils include the fantastical and imaginative worlds of Nevermoor, The Summoner and Children of Blood and Bone. Books that highlight the struggles faced by refugees and offer a portal to empathy and understanding also appear with 'The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle' and 'The Boy at the Back of Class' in New Releases. 'Lightning Mary' is another newly released title that encourages STEM learning and tells the story of an incredible historical figure, the intrepid fossil hunter Mary Anning so there is plenty to inspire readers who are tentative about what to try next. I think it is a concept that keeps on giving as it could be evolved to include #GraphicFlix, with a display highlighting memorable Graphic Novels, possibly tied into Paul Register's Excelsior Award which has done a sterling job in communicating the appeal of sequential art to receptive readers. Also #ScreenReads, as more books are destined for cinematic or Netflix treatment with 'Are You There God, It's Me Margaret', 'Darkmouth', 'Noughts and Crosses' and 'Artemis Fowl' being just a few treats in store in 2019 and beyond according to this article at Not forgetting #CarnegieHighlights which could focus on award winners.​ If you visit #BookFlix on Twitter you will discover many more examples of the creativity of librarians - not Meek [as David Walliams would have it] but bold bookaneers seeking new frontiers to celebrate the magic of reading. Tanja Jennings, WCB Library, NI

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Posted By Helen Thompson, 25 January 2019

This isn't really a blog post (surprise!) but a message from Annette Goldsmith. Rather than paraphrase I thought I'd simply replicate her message about the new prize for translated young adult literature. There are some lovely titles on there that you will have heard of, and probably read. However there are also titles that will broaden your knowledge of translated fiction. All would make excellent additions to any library. I'll certainly be watching with interest!

Dear colleagues,

The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative is a group of translators, librarians, editors, publishers and more dedicated to helping librarians identify and promote world literature for children, teens, and adults. We have established an award for translated YA literature to encourage youth to read more widely. Translations are an important part of the diversity conversation but account for a tiny percentage of available works.

Some Batchelder titles are YA crossover and USBBY's Outstanding International Books list includes translations, but no other award focuses on translated books for teens. I'm excited to announce that we have published our shortlist today (we'll be announcing the winner and honor books at ALA Midwinter):

The list is a truly global one and we would be grateful if you could share the link widely to help spread the word.

The ten books on the shortlist are from France, China, Germany, Equatorial Guinea, Japan, India, and Sweden, and they include fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. YA is a broad age range covering many developmental needs, and the list reflects that, with some books being well-suited to older middle-grade readers and others being adult titles with strong teen appeal. These titles are fresh, sometimes funny, and they invariably upend stereotypes while telling a riveting story.

If you'd like to find out more about GLLI, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and the Web

Thank you for supporting our efforts!

Annette Goldsmith Member, 2019 Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI) Translated YA Book Prize Committee --

Annette Goldsmith, PhD Co-Editor (with Theo Heras & Susan Corapi),

Reading the World's Stories: An annotated bibliography of international youth literature (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) Librarian, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, Los Angeles, CA

"A book is like a world you can carry around with you." Liniers, Written and Drawn by Henrietta (TOON Books, 2015)

Tags:  Translated YA 

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Falling out of love with reading — how to rekindle the passion - YLG Eastern Spring half day school

Posted By Susan Polchow, 20 December 2018

This spring half day training session run by the YLG Eastern group takes place on March 22nd 2019 at Bury St Edmunds Library and will examine some of the reasons children and teens turn away from books and how we can address this issue as librarians, teachers and advocates for reading.

Special guests are: Bali Rai Popular author Bali Rai is never afraid to tackle difficult, contemporary and controversial issues in his vast range of books for children and young people. He has written extensively for dyslexia-friendly publishers of books for reluctant readers, Barrington Stoke and also Penguin Random House. An enthusiastic advocate for libraries, he is also a powerful voice in the area of gaining diversity in children’s and YA publishing, posing the question ; if children and young people cannot see themselves represented in books, how can they engage with the world of fiction?

Amy McKay School librarian of the year 2016 and Corby Business Academy’s librarian, Amy McKay’s passion for books, libraries and reading shines through as soon as she addresses a room. She describes herself as a “stealth librarian” luring her readers in to the library with innovative clubs and activities and using her natural rapport to gradually introduce them to the world of books. She believes that the best school libraries are “fun friendly and vibrant.” She has gained the support of senior management who have seen her narrow the gender gap in school and engage students who struggle with either literacy or motivation. She will look at practical ideas to re-engage students with the world of books. There will also be a Barrington Stoke book sale. It looks like it will be a splendid & inspiring afternoon.

To find out more please get in touch with YLG Eastern's Harriet Cox at

Tags:  children's books  reading  Reading for Pleasure  visual literacy  ylg  youth libraries group eastern 

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Jingle bells, Batman smells………

Posted By Helen Thompson, 20 December 2018

Ah, the call of Christmas. Be honest, you just want a couple of days off work knowing that no sneaky blighter is putting work on your desk while your back is turned. Some will work on Monday (but hopefully finish a bit early?) and be back at the coalface on Thursday, but library cuts mean that far more libraries will be closed between Christmas and New Year than ever before. While this is a boon in terms of recharging winter-worn batteries, it leaves many needy customers out in the cold. Parents struggling to heat homes would bring children into the library for crafts or book sharing, and feel comfortable in a free and non-judgemental space. When schools are closed the problems faces by carers multiply. How to get that hot meal? Where to keep warm? Who will childmind for working parents? Not everyone with a job gets a living wage, and the struggle over Christmas is very real.

Children’s librarianship – whether it is in a public library, a school, or some other setting – is that perfect storm of a career. Children + books = changing lives. Of course whenever we work with children there are those moments when something is badly wrong and all you can do is signpost, or alert someone else, but even that is an intervention that can help.

While our thoughts turn to helping, this is a good time to remember those organisations that use books to make a difference:

Booktrust’s Letterbox Club sends book parcels out during the year to children who are vulnerable or in care. A £10 donation at Christmas will provide a festive parcel.

Want to #ReadTheOnePercent? Knights Of is following their hugely successful pop-up bookshop in Brixton with plans to open a permanent store there AND take pop-ups around the UK and Ireland. They are nearing their £30,000 target but only have until the end of January. Find out more and donate.

Book Aid International is committed to providing high quality books to areas of need. Although these are mostly in English, they also provide grants to but locally published books.

There are of course many worthy charities linked to reading. Check out the Publishers Association list

Sadly, many are in dire need of the most basic supplies – food, shelter, warmth – so remember to contribute to food banks and homelessness charities if you have anything to spare.

Enjoy your seasonal break, however long that may be, and return to work refreshed and invigorated. Remember to look out for details of the 2019 conference (held jointly with the School Library Association) taking place 21st–23rd June at Aston University. Those who joined us at Aston for a previous conference will remember what a great venue it was, and of course joint conferences are two for the price of one – who could resist!





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