Posted on: 01/03/12 BY kate

At Calderdale High School in New Lanarkshire they run a book group. The passion expressed in the entry from Librarian Lesley Ann MacDonald speaks for itself:

“I have a confession to make. Every Friday last session I went to the BOOKies. However, I wasn’t throwing away money on the horses. With these Bookies I was always on to a winner. The BOOKies is our weekly lunchtime book group for S1 and S2 pupils. The group is supported by staff who are invited to attend meetings as guest readers.

After sessions covering authors as diverse as George Orwell and LM Montgomery, it is inspiring to see pupils asking for books that have been talked about by guest readers. They are also very effective at questioning the guest readers about their reading habits

The first Friday of the month was reserved for an English teacher to tell the BOOKies about the life and work of a writer that has passed on…A Dead Good Writer of the Month

At Halloween the BOOKies were visited by a scary looking teacher, dressed as a vampire. They sat in a darkened library and shivered in fear as they were read a ghost story.

Santa made an appearance at Christmas and told them about Raymond Briggs’ grumpy Father Christmas. The BOOKies ate mincepies, pulled crackers, wore Santa hats and received a book as a Christmas present. Blooming marvelous

There was further celebration in January as the BOOKies hosted their own Burns Supper. However, the mood changed from celebration to commemoration when the BOOKies marked Holocaust Memorial Day. As preparation for this event the BOOKies had read and discussed Once by Morris Gleitzman. On the day teachers from the RE and History Departments helped us to understand the background to it, a candle was lit and there was a pause for a few moments of quiet reflection…

And there was more: Catherine MacPhail and Alex Scarrow were welcomed as visiting writers, poems on the theme of games were written for National Poetry Day, books were judged for the Royal Mail Scottish Children’s Book Awards, World Book Day was celebrated, traditional and modern fairy tales were discussed, and finally, the Farewell Lunch. Phew!

So how has the BOOKies impacted on learning and teaching? Well, the pupils involved, around twenty, regularly visit the LRC at intervals and lunchtimes as well as attending their weekly BOOKies session. They are now comfortable discussing books and reading and are more open to suggestions about what to read. The experience of taking part in such a group has helped some pupils develop their social skills as they have learned to appreciate the importance of committing to and being a valued part of the group – coming along regularly, arriving on time and remembering to thank the guest readers at the end with a round of applause. So everyone’s a winner at the BOOKies.

Am I going back to the BOOKies this session? You bet!  “