All posts by Helena

Songwriting Workshop

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Oh, what a treat we had on our Teens’ Writing Course on Tuesday 5th February! Ben Maier, singer, songwriter and poet, came to run a fun-filled songwriting workshop for our group of talented writers. With Ben’s guidance, we listened to music, paid attention to lyrics, learnt about the anatomy of a song and then wrote our own. There were songs on love, loss, belonging, cats, dogs, adventures… and of course, apple pie! Ben was impressed by the standard of writing and the enthusiasm and kindness shown within the group. Not only did the young writers (and musicians) write their songs – they sang them and some (who we are totally in awe of) played their instrument (ukulele and guitar) to accompany their song. And to top it all we had Lucianna (aged 18!), singer and songwriter, finish off the evening with a live singing of her brilliant song – Double Vision…

Press play to listen.

She was amazing and very inspirational to all in the room.

Listen to Lucianna’s song:Red – here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dFTfj6XP3Z4&feature=youtu.be

Keep an eye on the website as we would like very much to invite Ben and Lucianna back for some more music fun!

Book Review

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The Case of the Stolen Smells

The Case of the Stolen Smells

written by Pankaja Srinivasan and published by ‘Karadi Tales’.

This book tells the tale of Raju, who has a modest lunch of rice each day. One day he discovers the delicious smell of bajjis coming from Babu’s stall. He starts to have the most wonderful lunch – purely tasting the smells! Babu soon realises what Raju is doing and demands that Raju pay for the smells.

We received this wonderful book review from the parents of a young girl,  Vania Vriksha, who is 3 years and 9 months old and from India. She obviously enjoyed the book! These are responses to questions her parents asked her about the book. “I like the hand with the green nail polish on the cover of the book….Raju works in an Indian haircutting salon…Every day Raju only ate rice ….Babu was frying mozhaga bhajji …and Raju could smell the bajjis…..Babu said “How dare they ?” (This is my favourite dialogue) …..Raju said “why you are angry Babu ?” Babu said ….”because you are smelling my Bhajji”…Babu went to the village head…Chattapadi…he wears only dhoti ..no shirt. Babu complained to Chattapadi and a case was happening. I like Raju, Kannan, Chattapadi and also all the village people. I like Raju because he cuts hair for people . It is a good story . Raju is a good guy and Babu is a bad guy. Babu should not ask money for smelling the bhajji but only if you eat the bhajji.”

Thank you to Vania for introducing us to the book and for contacting The Story Room from so far!

Books for children in Year 4, 5 and 6

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Books for children in Years 4, 5 and 6

We have been running a Book Club for years 4, 5 and 6 for at least 4 years now and have read some fantastic and some not-so-fantastic books… 

We often get asked for book recommendations for children in this age group – so here is a list of books that have been popular with the children at The Story Room Book Club. The books highlighted in gold were the children’s absolute favourites leading them to read other books by the same author.  We also discuss poems, stories and books, and make reading suggestions for the children, in all of our creative writing workshops too.

Sky Song – Abi Elphinstone   

Shadow – Micheal Morpurgo  

Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver  

The Explorer – Katherine Rundell  

The Magician’s Nephew – C.S.Lewis

Mary Poppins – P.L Travers 

Cosmic – Frank Cottrell Boyce 

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling 

Emil and the Detectives –  Erich Kastner

Warrior Cats – Erin Hunter 

Beetle Boy – M.G. Leonard 

A Dog called Grk – Joshua Lacey  

Private Peaceful – Micheal Morpurgo

Street Child – Berlie Doherty

The Boy Called Christmas –  Matt Haig

Groosham Grange – Anthony Horowitz

Cogheart – Peter Bunzl

Coraline  – Neil Gaiman

Time Train to the Blitz – Sophie Mackenzie

Harriet The Spy  – Louis Fitzhugh

Goldfish Boy – Lisa Thompson

Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat – Ursula Moray Williams

Millions – Frank Cottrell Boyce

Falcon’s Malteser – Diamond Brothers – Anthony Horowitz

The Silver Sword – Ian Serraillier 

The Last Wild – Piers Torday 

Time Travelling with a Hamster – Ross Welford

Once – Morris Gleitzman

The Switch – Anthony Horowitz

The Accidental Prime Minister –  Tom McLaughlin

Skellig – David Almond

Scary Tales, Home Sweet Horror – James Preller

The London Eye Mystery – Siobhan Dowd

For more information about our Book Clubs click here 

https://www.storyroom.co.uk/book-clubs-for-children-north-london/

Getting boys reading for pleasure

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I once visited a primary school to run a poetry workshop with a year 5 class. The class was boy heavy: twenty in a class (out of 30), but they all read outside school for pleasure. Every single one of them had a book on their desk which they were enjoying reading and wanted to talk about. Their teacher has to be applauded because I am sure that it is her attitude to reading that inspires them. She talks to them about current books, doing projects on books that are newly published, not ones that have been yellowing on the bookshelf for years. Sometimes that is all that it takes to get boys reading i.e. an inspirational figure who passes on their passion for reading to the child….and that someone can easily be you!

I often meet parents who despair about getting their children (not always boys) reading. Not only do I have three boys of my own but I have been working at The Story Room for five years now and have seen the wonders that reading can do for children. So, speaking from experience…. it is not easy to get a reluctant reader to pick up a book, but it is a battle worth fighting.

Here are some tips that will hopefully help you to get your child reading:

If your son is still young enough to enjoy being read to (and I would say this could happen until they are in secondary school), then read to him. Do this every night, if you can. Go to the library together and choose a pile of books. Ask him to keep an open mind. Choose from different genres: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror e.t.c. and from books for different reading abilities. Try them out. You may not get past the first page of some of them and that is fair enough. There are many books that I don’t read past the first page of. But there may just be one or two that you manage to read to him to the end. Once you have found an author or genre that your son enjoys then borrow more books that you now know will appeal to him  and maybe, just maybe he may start to read them on his own. But until such time, keep reading away. You will enjoy it too.

If you are not already a member of a library, join your local library, not only for a plentiful supply of new books but also because our local libraries have lots of events for young children, especially during the holidays; keeping them involved in books, outside of term time.

Audio books are a fantastic way to introduce children to literature. You can choose books that are above your child’s reading level but within their comprehension level. CD books are expensive but are sometimes available in charity shops. CD books (and downloadable books) are also available to loan from libraries.

I recently listened to Frank Cottrell’s Boyce’s ‘The Unforgotten Coat’ and the actress who read it really brought it to life with her Liverpudlian accent, a much better job than I would have done. Audio books are perfect for any length of car journey.

Sadly some children do not respond to any amount of books being bought for them or read to them at home. Try your local library for book clubs and reading groups or ask at their primary school if there is one running there. Sometimes outside influences are more powerful. We have been running book clubs at The Story Room for years. I once had a book club that had nine boys in it. It was not intended to be a book club for boys but that is how it ended up, weirdly. One mum said it has worked for her son because her son has a ‘competitive nature’, so as they are all reading the same book they would ask each other which part of the story they were up to and it encouraged her son to read more.

Gadgets get in the way of reading for many boys. Once a month have a gadget free weekend. Let your child get bored and discover the books on their shelves that are there waiting to be opened. Or take them out to buy/borrow a book.

Let them choose what they want to read, without being too prescriptive. You know yourself that choosing books is a very personal, what appeals to your friends may not appeal to you. They may make mistakes and choose books that disappoint them but be patient, they will get there in the end.

Guide them if they do not know what to choose. There are numerous websites with really good book reviews – my favourites are  www.booktrust.co.uk and www.readingagency.org.uk

How can The Story Room help? 

The Story Room runs creative writing workshops, various types of book clubs for all ages, and writing groups and in all of these we talk about books that we are reading and introduce children to literature (classics and newly published). Many parents have told us that after our writing workshops their children developed an enthusiasm for reading as well as writing. We also run author workshops that are hugely successful in getting children reading.

If you would like to share any tips or need any further help on this subject, please feel free to contact us by email: helena@storyroom.co.uk.

See you at The Story Room!

Book Reviews

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From pupils at Albourne C of E School in West Sussex

LITTLE DARLINGS – by Jaqueline Wilson

In this breath taker of a story there are two girls one, a little girl with an extraordinary voice, the other an amazing song writer. In this story there are contests , fights and most importantly it is dramatic!

I love this story it is one of my favourites . I recommend this book to 9-15 year olds.

By Isla aged 8

Karate Kid book – by R M Kaman

In my opinion the book is good if you like karate. This is about a man called Mr Miyagi who taught Daniel karate. My favourite  part is the Skeleton part.

By Charles aged 8

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Honey, the Abandoned Puppy.  Animal magic rescue. By Tina Nolan 

In this devastating book Animal Magic Rescue are super busy but Eva (a girl that works at the rescue centre) goes out with her friend Annie and finds an abandoned dog called Honey. When she sees missing posters with the name Honey – saying that there is a £9000 reward if found she’s confused. Will she find out who dumped sweet Honey?

 I think this book is amazing it’s sad and happy it is also a series of books the next book is Charlie the Home – alone Kitten – animal rescue

I would give it FIVE out of five

I would recommend this book to children that like animals

     by Ellie aged 8

The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton By Enid Blyton

This book is REALLY GOOD and I recommend that YOU read it this very moment! I got hooked in from the first word! SOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!   

If you dislike this book I disagree. If you think its only for children you’re wrong!

It have read it in 2017 but It is still my favourite book. I recommend if you like The Faraway Tree I think you should read The wishing chair.

Story line

There are three children called Jo, Bessie and Fanny. These three children move house in a forest. One day the go out to play in the forest and they make a friend and all four of them go up a magical tree to different dimensions. In one there’s a policeman in an upside-down  world and he makes Jo do a headstand. They only have a certain amount of time to be in the world.

Questions

Do I think this book is for adults? No, I think anyone can read it.

 Do I like it? Yes, that’s because I’m doing a review.

How many stars do I give it? 

Is it one of my favourite books? Yes!

Book review by Keira age 8