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Reading is Magic: a Librarian Game

A Library Live Action Role Playing (LARP) Game for one player (the Librarian) and a class of students

Stories are magic, and as all readers of magic and fantasy know that magic is capricious and that not all spells will work on all people.

In this game the Librarian plays a magic user (wizard/witch/warlock/mage/other magic user) that must get all the children in the library under his or her power. This is accomplished by getting all students reading quietly.


The aim of the game is to get all students to be entranced by what they are reading.

The books or magazines do not need to be fantasy or magic-based, any genre will do.

The goal of every student reading does not to be accomplished in one lesson (if you can though that is great).

Over the weeks get to know the students in the Library lesson, their likes and dislikes and using this information get them reading.

Once all the students are reading you must keep them engaged with what they are reading form week to week.

The end goal is to imbue all students with a love of reading.


One point per student that enjoys reading.

Five points per student that struggles to focus on their reading material once they are reading.

One point per every minute all students are focusing on what they are reading.

The game can be played alone or against librarians in other libraries, each player is expected to tally their points honestly.

Recommended by a Librarian: The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein

The Recommending Librarian this week is: Elena Morris

What are you recommending?

The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein

What is it?

It’s a psychological horror set in a girls’ boarding school.The story follows an unnamed narrator as she sees her friend Lucy becom closer and closer to new arrival, Ernessa. Strange things start happening and Lucy starts getting ill, and the narrator must ask the question: is Ernessa a vampire, or is she just going mad?

Why have you recommended it?

It’s probably my number one favourite book of all time and recommended for those who are tired of sparkly vampires and want a beautifully-written horror with an unreliable narrator.

GCHQ launches new code-making app

Cryptoy is a fun, free, educational app about cryptography, designed by GCHQ for use by secondary school students and their teachers.

The app enables users to understand basic encryption techniques, learn about their history and then have a go at creating their own encoded messages. These can then be shared with friends via social media or more traditional means and the recipients can use the app to try to decipher the messages.

For full details and to download the app go here:  Cryptoy App

It is up to you whether or not you trust GCHQ enough to install it but it could be great for teens interested in cryptography.

Literature Wales and Welsh Government announce new international ‘Dylan Day’

As part of an event to mark the conclusion of the successful year-long Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis today announced the creation of Dylan Day, a new annual day of celebration in the name of Wales’ most famous literary son.

The announcement was made at the National Library of Wales and will build upon the legacy of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival. In response to requests to establish a public day, Dylan Day will be held each year on 14 May, the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at The Poetry Centre in New York in 1953.

Starting in 2015, and part of a three year package of funding announced by Welsh Government, Dylan Day will celebrate and raise the profile of Thomas’ work in Wales and abroad through a variety of activities to include launch events, educational resources and social media activity.

The first year’s activity will centre on the publication of A Dylan Odyssey, a beautiful, fully illustrated book featuring fifteen unique Dylan Thomas trails across Wales, London, Oxford and New York. Edited by Literature Wales and published by south Welsh publisher Graffeg, A Dylan Odyssey is based on Literature Wales’ 2014 Dylan Thomas-inspired literary tourism programme of the same name. Further details will be released by Literature Wales in the New Year.

Guests at the event in Aberystwyth were entertained by actor Adrian Metcalfe playing the part of the great poet, leading guests around the ‘Dylan’ exhibition. National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, recited her favourite Dylan Thomas poem ‘Poem in October’ and Young People’s Laureate Wales, Martin Daws and Bardd Plant Cymru, Aneirin Karadog, performed a short extract from their Dylan Live show. Speaking at the event Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council spoke about Dylan Thomas’ links to Ceredigion and the positive impact the centenary had had on the county.

Hannah Ellis said: ‘It is so important that we make the most of the amazing legacy the Dylan Thomas 100 festival has offered and continue to celebrate the achievements of Dylan Thomas. An international day devoted to my grandfather will also be a way to bring attention to literature and arts in Wales and the places that inspired him so much. Let’s embrace the day, dress up, read a poem or two and have fun exploring the magic of words.’

Chief Executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn said: ‘Dylan Thomas fans across the UK and beyond have long been calling for a special day to celebrate the great poet and it seemed fitting that we should build on this year’s extraordinary achievements in Wales and abroad to celebrate Dylan Thomas by formally creating such a day. We look forward to working with partners and the public to spread the word of this great Welsh poet through fun and engaging activity for people of all ages.’

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said: ‘The announcement of Dylan Day gives the year long celebration of Dylan Thomas’ life and work a fitting conclusion. I’m delighted that this day will become a legacy for the festival and that the interest which has been shown in Dylan Thomas and Wales during the centenary celebrations will keep its momentum through this annual focal point.’

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council: ‘Ceredigion is a place where Dylan Thomas clearly found inspiration – being by the sea, and with real people he could relax with, listen to their tales of life and adventure, and have fun with words with other poets and artists on his visits to farms in the Aeron Valley and coastal villages like Llangrannog. He set off ‘quite early one morning’ along what has now become the Wales Coast Path, and found the template for his best known work, Under Milk Wood, in New Quay. Ceredigion is proud of its long literary tradition, which is very much alive today – we probably have more poets in Ceredigion per head of population than anywhere in the world! We look forward to building on the success of the Dylan Thomas 100 festival and a continued partnership approach in celebration of our shared culture.’

For more information please contact:

Literature Wales
Chief Executive: Lleucu Siencyn,
Fourth Floor, Cambrian Buildings, Cardiff, CF10 5FL
029 2047 2266 /

First UK Comics Laureate Announced

Bestselling graphic novelist Dave Gibbons is to become the first Comics Laureate. The announcement was made by internationally acclaimed comics authority and graphic novelist Scott McCloud at the launch of new charity Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on 17th October.

The role of Comics Laureate is to be appointed biennially to a distinguished comics writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the field. Their role is to champion children’s literacy through school visits, training events for school staff and education conferences. Dave Gibbons has won universal praise for his comics and graphic novel work for Marvel and DC Comics including the ground-breaking Watchmen (with Alan Moore), as well as the UK’s own 2000AD and Doctor Who. “It’s a great honour for me to be nominated as the first Comics Laureate,” he says. “I intend to do all that I can to promote the acceptance of comics in schools. It’s vitally important not only for the pupils but for the industry too.” Dave Gibbons takes up his two-year position from February 2015.

Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) is a new UK charity formed by a group of passionate, highly experienced professionals from the fields of education and comics. Its primary aim is to improve the literacy levels of children and to promote the variety and quality of comics and graphic novels today, particularly in the education sector.

The Board of CLAw’s trustees includes renowned graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, winner of the 2012 Costa Award for Best Biography for Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes (a collaboration with his wife Mary Talbot). He says, “In many other countries, comics and graphic novels have been used extensively in literacy drives. The sheer accessibility of the medium, the way in which complex information can be easily absorbed through its combination of words and pictures, actively encourages reading in those intimidated by endless blocks of cold print.”

The other trustees are Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; Ian Churchill, comic book artist for DC and Marvel, and writer/artist on his Image Comics title Marineman; Emma Hayley, Managing Director and Publisher of UK’s independent graphic novel company, SelfMadeHero; Paul Register, school librarian and founder of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award; and Dr. Mel Gibson, comics scholar and senior lecturer at Northumbria University.

Alongside the Comics Laureateship, CLAw will work closely with schools on a number of initiatives, including staff training events and classroom visits by comics professionals. They will liaise with museums and galleries on a variety of comics-related projects, and provide reading lists and general guidance to school staff and parents unfamiliar with the comics medium, demonstrating the wider educational benefits it can offer.

For further information about: Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) –

Iron Sky: Dread Eagle The Tour Alex Woolf’s Top Steampunk Reads

Avast children of the steam! Today I am pleased to announce that Alex Woolf is sharing his favourite YA steampunk reads with us.

So put on your goggles, brew a cuppa tea and push play on Abney Park’s Airship Pirates and have a read…

I’ve been asked to put together a list of my top steampunk books for children and teenagers. As it happens, most of the steampunk books I’ve read so far were written for adults. I’ve now learned that there is a whole library out there of fabulous-looking steam-powered stories for younger readers, which I plan to start reading as soon as I find the time. For this reason, the following list is rather short, and in no way comprehensive. Call it a list-in-progress!

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
His-Dark-Materials-trilog-001I read this trilogy before I’d even heard of the term steampunk. Although I read it as an adult, it had a similar heady impact on me as the Narnia books, which I read as a child. It follows two children’s adventures through various parallel worlds and includes talking, armoured bears, vagabond gyptians (gypsies) and a Texan with a hot-air balloon. I loved the second one, The Subtle Knife, in particular.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Someone recommended this book to me, thinking I’d love it – and they were right! It’s set on the eve of World War I, but a very different World War I than the one we’ve studied in history books. In this world, the Axis Powers are armed with Clankers, steam-driven iron machines bristling with guns. Opposing them are the British ‘Darwinists’, whose weapons are specially altered animals. Leviathan is their whale-airship, the most powerful beast in the British fleet. The story, focusing on a boy prince and an aviator girl caught up in the action, is enhanced by some beautifully intricate illustrations. Altogether wonderful!
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
The premise of this book is so ingenious I wish I’d thought of it myself. Imagine it: mobile cities! Big cities hunting down and eating smaller cities for their resources. It’s called ‘Municipal Darwinism’. Added to this, it’s a real page-turner: an adventure involving murder plots, obsession and betrayal. The book features a host of unforgettable characters, including Grike, a veteran soldier who’s more machine than man, Chrystler Peavey, the posh pirate, and Mayor Chrome, the power-mad leader of London.

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling
This book, by my Curious Fox stablemate, is a high-tension, high-wire adventure set in a gritty alternative Victorian London. The star of the show is Remy Brunel, a circus performer who moonlights as a jewel thief. She is a character you can’t help warming to, not least because of all her delightful contradictions: a noble soul forced by circumstances to work as a criminal; ephemeral as a butterfly yet with a will of iron; obstinately independent, yet she cannot resist the pull of love when it finds her. A top trapeze artiste, Remy defies expectations as well as gravity, and much the same can be said for the book, which begins as a fairly straightforward jewel hunt and then transforms into something much stranger and more intriguing as our unlikely band of heroes race to foil the plans of the evil Lord Abernathy. The book builds to an extremely tense and exciting climax as we follow Remy and her friends into a netherworld of labyrinthine tunnels beneath London, where we encounter some truly weird and wonderful steampunk machines.

Cloud Riders by Nick Cook
I declare an interest with this one, as Nick Cook is a friend, and I read and commented on various drafts of this book before it was published. However, I can say hand on heart that if I’d chanced across this book afresh, without knowing Nick, I’d still have loved it. The hero, Dom, lives with his mother, who runs the Twister Diner in Tornado Alley, USA. After a year-long drought, with the diner about to go bust, a tornado suddenly appears – the first in months – and emerging from it is a mysterious airship, which crashes in Dom’s yard. It’s the start of an amazing adventure through parallel worlds for Dom and his best friend Jules. The book is exceptionally good at charting the emotional journey of the main characters, but what I loved most was the world building, the amazing technology and the rich and atmospheric descriptions. I recommend this to anyone who’s ever wished there were other worlds out there and longs for a chance to explore them.

Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL

Becoming Fierce cover_FINAL
Sometimes it totally sucks being a teen. Trying to fit in, dealing with bullies, a changing body, and the feeling that no one really gets it. It’s hard on the head and often seems like no one else understands.

That’s what Becoming Fierce is all about. Those not-so-fun times that come with being a teen but also how others have gone through similar things and made it to the other side. New and established Canadian authors share experiences from their teen years that have stuck with them. Some of the stories are dark and heartbreaking while others are light-hearted and grin-worthy. Regardless, they all have something in common: while things may seem like an epic fail now, they do get better.
Susin Nielsen, author of the award-winning young adult novel The reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, contributes the foreword.

I remember my teen years with crystal clarity, even though I left them behind 21 years ago today, I had friends and good experiences over those years from 13 to 19, but I can safely say that I did not enjoy them for a lot of the time. It is strange that in life memories of good times are often outshone by memories of negative experiences.

I was lucky; I survived my teen years and eventually grew into a fully functional adult. Not all young people are as fortunate, almost every week, I seen and hear stories about the toll that drugs, abuse and suicide have on teens; it seems that life demands a heavy toll of young people cut down before their dreams and aims can be realised. It does not end there; those that survive still have to endure a gauntlet of peer pressure, bullying, body shaming and worse.

Becoming Fierce was not an easy read for me, the stories triggered memories of times that I would much rather forget, and that I think is the point of the collection – not to reawaken old memories but to reach out to young people in similar circumstances through their words and shouting out the message that they need to hear: that they are not alone, the dark times do end!

I generally judge stories by the effect they have on me, and this collection is powerful indeed.

khplogo20% of the proceeds raised from the sale of Becoming Fierce will be donated to Kids Help Phone Canada’s only toll-free, 24-hour, bilingual and anonymous phone counselling, web counselling and referral service for children and youth.

Welcome Back Man!

Looking for a quick and dirty poster welcoming students back to school? Why not use this one because deep down all students super heroes.


At the very least it may get a laugh and can be used with a display of new graphic novels.

English GCSEs: a list of authors, poets & playwrights you are unlikely to see

After the outcry when the new English GCSEs were announced Education Secretary Michael Gove has clarified things by letting us know that no authors have been banned.

No, beyond a set of core requirements, exam boards have no restrictions on their choice of authors.

The Deaprtment of Education added that ‘…the requirements represent “only the minimum pupils will be expected to learn” and that exam boards could still include modern writers from outside the British Isles…

The AQA board conceded that ‘…technically it would not be impossible to add additional texts beyond the essential requirements, to do so would place an unacceptable assessment burden on teachers and students

This is an incomplete list of authors, poets & playwrights that you are unlikely to encounter in English GCSEs

  • Amy Tan The Joy Luck Club
  • Arthur Miller The Crucible
  • Athol Fugard Tsotsi
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie A Purple Hibiscus
  • Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart
  • Doris Pilkington Rabbit-proof Fence
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Emily Dickinson
  • F Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby
  • Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Haruki Murakami
  • John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men
  • Lloyd Jones Mr Pip
  • Mark Twain
  • Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Robert Frost
  • Robert Lowell
  • Roddy Doyle Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
  • Stephen Crane
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Tennessee Williams
  • TS Eliot
  • WB Yeats
  • William Faulkner
  • So, yes it is all good from here on out! bannings, only relegation to the sidelines where they can be added to the curriculum if time and teaching allows.

    Why Libraries make the world a better place by Tammy February

    So last night I got lost in the library, wandered down the passages and found a treasure trove of books.

    Now, one would think, that for someone who buys so many books and receive quite a number of them for review, that I wouldn’t have time for the library.

    This is where you’d be wrong.

    You see, for me, the library is not just a gateway to a world of shelves upon shelves of books, but it’s my second home and sanctuary.

    My love affair with this magical place started when I was a young child, but it was only during my primary school years that I’d really come to appreciate what the library would mean to me.

    As a young girl, I was severely bullied, and as a result, I’d spend most of my lunch breaks hiding out in the library to get away from the viciousness of the girls in the playground.

    The library, at the time, became a place where I could hide; and at first, that was as far as it went. The more time I began spending there though, the more I realised that something had changed.

    Once I got beyond the point where the awful feelings living inside me subsided just a little bit, I finally began to comprehend what kind of impact just being in the library had on me.

    It dawned on me that I had unlimited access to a world beyond worlds.

    I could walk into a forest filled with fairies at any time I wanted and I could go on adventures the various little critters, creatures and all sorts of wondrous beings. And oh, not even to talk about the soothing atmosphere, the classical music and the knowledge that time suspended itself every time I took a step into the library.

    This was the moment when both the written word and the library became my best friends.

    By that time, I had pretty much loved reading, but it was those trips to what I thought of as my book palace (I still think that by the way), that made me realise just how important having access to books was and still is, to me.

    If I think about it now, I’m thankful for the girls who picked on me back then because they are the ones that only served cement my love of reading. They hurt me, but I don’t think they realise what they gave me in the process.

    Because it’s Library week in South Africa this week, I’m dedicating this column to all the wonderful librarians who keep our libraries up and running.

    Because, without you, libraries wouldn’t exist and I’m fortunate enough to be able to say that not only did I have (and still have) a fantastic bookish place to run to, but I also had kind librarians who always kept an eye out for me and kept new books aside for me.

    Thank you for loving books and for always sharing your knowledge. Trite as it sounds, you truly make this world a better place.

    When I think of it now, I realise that I am actually pretty privileged to have the access to the kind of information and books that I did back then and do right now.

    As the child of parents who were directly affected by South Africa’s apartheid laws, I don’t take for granted the fact that my parents didn’t have as many options as I do today.

    Not only were they barred from libraries that had a ‘whites in attendance only’ policy, but the books that they were allowed to borrow, left a lot to desire, in terms of content and quality. In spite of this, my parents somehow always made sure that I did have the best reading material.

    Not only that, but they made sure that the library became a place I could run to whenever I wanted to leave the real world behind.

    Today, thanks to the girls who bullied me, my parents who encouraged me and the wonderful librarians who always recommended new books to me, I’m the sum of all of their knowledge and teachings.

    And I, for one, have every intention of passing on the library’s magic to everyone and anyone who cares to listen.

    Happy South African Library Week lovely libraries and librarians of South Africa.

    Never stop doing what you’re doing.

    The world needs more custodians like you.

    Tammy February blogs at and tweets under the name Tammy24_7

    This column originally appeared here: