Here at SLS Guernsey we have launched a new staff book club! Each team member was tasked with reading a book over the spring term with the intention of discussing it with the rest of the team at our end of term training session. This is not the first time we have tried a staff book group, so with success in mind, we endeavoured to be aware of our limited time and started off by simply looking at and reviewing recently published picture books.
With so much being published, keeping up to date with the recent publications is not only difficult but practically impossible. Ultimately, no one has time to read everything and sharing what we have read with others will not only improve our knowledge of the new stock coming onto our shelves but also ensures that we are confident in our skills to recommend new books.
As part of our discussion we looked at the following questions for each book:
- Why did you choose that book in particular?
- Would you recommend it for a certain age group?
- Is the book better to read with a group or an individual?
- Should the book be added to our staff picture book collection?*
Each person also highlighted any interesting questions which could be asked when reading the books with a group and thoughts on the best way to read the story aloud.
Overall, we had a productive discussion and hopefully added a few more books to our repertoire. We even had a team member bring along extra picture books which he wished to share with us.
Looking ahead, our next task is to try and read one of the Carnegie medal shortlisted titles so we shall see how that goes!
A few points noted for next time:
- A set of discussion questions before the book club would be helpful to add clarity to the discussion and help staff think about what they would like to say in advance.
- More reminders so staff don’t forget!
- Try and get recommendations for which genre or age level we should focus on next time.
*At SLS Guernsey, our new stock can be quickly swept up into our fiction loans to schools before anyone really has a chance to use it. We have therefore created a collection dedicated to picture books which are solely for staff use. These are mostly picture books which are staff favourites, proven to be a success when read to groups of children or have lots of interesting discussion points. This works especially well when you need something in a hurry!
Here are staff reviews for some of the books we discussed:
A Home on the River by Peter Bently and Charles Fuge
This is a lovely rhyming story that follows Bramble the badger, who is trying to find out why the water has disappeared.
Bramble follows the dry river bed to the loneliest part of wood and beyond, facing lots of different challenges along the way.
He soon discovers the problem; the river is blocked.
Bramble meets a new friend, a beaver named Sam, who has built a dam blocking the river. With Bramble’s help they move Sam to a better place and get the river flowing once more.
This story about friendship and caring is beautifully illustrated and a wonderful addition to any bookshelf.
The World Book Day Monster by Adam & Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Ada Grey
Having just celebrated World Book Day at the beginning of this month, I was intrigued to find out more about this topical picture book by well-known author duo, Adam and Charlotte Guillain.
With beautiful illustrations from Ada Grey, this bright and accessible story looks at the familiar experience of picking a costume for World Book Day. The story itself is great to share with young readers, with its rhyming verses, sense of humour and playful words. Although it focuses on the day itself (in early March), the story is one that can be shared at any time of year; it allows children to identify the celebration that either they’ve already experienced or can look forward to experiencing in the future. The sense of familiarity is something that children can really pick up on, which in turn adds to the enjoyment of a story.
This book really encourages little ones to put some thought into their costumes for the big day. It can of course be very difficult to put together a costume on short notice, and it is certainly understandable that for many, putting together a costume can be a lot of hard work! But what this book highlights is that (when thought about well in advance!), the creation of a unique costume can be a fun activity for the parent/guardian and child to take part in together.
I think the main theme that comes across in The World Book Day Monster is the importance of sharing stories with one another. In the story, Anna receives a book recommendation from the bookseller, and then her teacher shares a story with the class; both are great examples of how influential this can be for young children. It really encourages the act of reading for pleasure which is after all, what World Book Day is all about.
10% of the authors’ royalties for this book will be donated to World Book Day.
You’re Called What? by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson
A wonderfully silly book about real animal names that just sound silly. The animals arrive at the Ministery of Silly animal Names to get their names changed. A fun and silly book that will have children laughing along as you read it.
Added to our Librarian Shelf.
There’s a Dragon in your book by Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott
Sometimes, as hard as you try, young readers can get bored very quickly when listening to stories. Therefore, when reading to pre-schoolers and Reception students, I’m always on the lookout for something fun and if possible, interactive. There’s a Dragon in Your Book is full of fun actions and sounds for the reader to join in with, including tickling the dragon’s nose, blowing out a flame, shouting a loud achoo! or using their imagination to think up a giant water balloon.
Greg Abbott’s illustrations in this book are bright and bold but also relatively simple. Having detailed illustrations is wonderful to create discussions with older readers but can quickly cause distraction for younger readers. The reader can clearly follow the action and.
There’s a Dragon in Your Book is a fun and imaginative picture book with sweet illustrations which I would highly recommend for reading to large groups of children.
Added to our Librarian Shelf.