Category Archives: Literary Events

Reading Rocks event, October 2016

From time to time, SLG is asked to send representatives to different events around the country to speak or to set up a stand.  This involved us getting involved with a stand in the ATL Conference earlier in the year, being represented and giving a talk to a Headteachers’ Teachmeet in the summer, and the Reading Rocks event this autumn.  Lucy Chambers from the committee attended this event, and wrote her report for us.  Every meeting we attend is a chance for us to interact with people we wouldn’t normally reach, and to spread the word about the great things school libraries are doing.

Lucy writes: ‘I attended the first one day Reading Rocks 2016 conference, established to ‘discuss ways to make reading rock for every pupil.’  near Warrington, to deliver a workshop on behalf of SLG.  This was an opportunity to speak at an event aimed at teachers rather than just librarians and is something the committee has been discussing for some time: how to cross the invisible barrier and promote the impact librarians can have on a school to educationalists.

The District CE Primary School in Newton-le-Willows has won awards for its approach to reading and has many inspirational reading areas, from several small libraries within the school to a Story Shack, a book-themed playground and a Little Library of books for parents.   They promote reading with stylish and interactive displays and regular reading events throughout the year.

My role was to advocate the value of school librarians, in this case in primary schools, and to promote SLG.  I also spoke about how I use regular Reading Year events to get children reading in my four schools in Tower Hamlets.  The day was devoted to literacy sessions of interest to primary school teachers, with several authors and promoters of reading schemes. Keynote speakers included James Clements, the founder of Shakespeare and More, who works with schools to develop the teaching of reading, and Mat Tobin, Senior Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes’ School of Education, talking about the hidden messages in picture books , including a thought-provoking interpretation of ‘Not Now Bernard’, elicited with discussion from Year 1 to Year 6 pupils.

Workshops ranged from sessions promoting First News, Phoenix and other magazines to a project using rhythm and music to improve reading comprehension in low ability children. Other workshops included storyteller Dan Worsely, Into Film, Mat Tobin, Jonny Duddle and Nikki Heath.

Altogether, it was a very impressive event with some excellent speakers, a great range of exhibitors and an ambitious programme.  If you are a primary school librarian or teacher, look out for Reading Rocks 2017 and sign up!’

See the school’s website for further information


What better way for a sociable bookworm to spend an afternoon?


The welcoming surroundings of the Grafton’s upper room were the perfect setting for the second SLG Café Littéraire. Authors, Librarians and Publishers shared enthusiasms and information over tea, coffee and some excellent cake.

The event was attended by 16 authors and a handful of publishers from Pea Green Boat Books and Usborne: Michele Simonsen – Sarah Sky –  Keren David –  Hilary Freeman  – Chitra Soundar – Larisa Villar Hauser –  Annette Smith –  Faye Bird  – Margaret Bateson-Hill  – Peter Bunzl  – Sally Kindberg  – Bridget Marzo –  Bybreen Samuels  – Jo Franklin 

From picture novel illustrators to YA writers, from well-established and loved names to first-time novelists, conversations quickly turned to the challenges of Children’s and YA literature that we are all facing.

Amongst all these discussions, some topics stood out for relevance and scope of interest across all reading ages: for example, illustration and visual literacy – how important it is to avoid the misconception that comics are a genre and not a separate medium of telling stories; a complex reading process is necessary to decipher them, such as inferring meaning, and linking text and picture. We spoke of the kind of stories we loved as children, and whether the same stories and styles of telling are still popular. Can books help our children to face the challenges of ubiquitous social media, or relieve the pressures that our very sexualised society can create? If writers want to engage with young people, is swearing necessary? One author found that putting ‘blast’ in a book for teenagers to avoid censure from their parents, just made her look out-of-touch and irrelevant.

Here are some interesting articles on these subjects:

Why teens in books can’t swear by James/Juno Dawson:

YA Books That Will Make You Swear Off Social Media Forever

“Clean Reads” List –  interesting booklist for the guidance given regarding “inappropriate” content. Food for thought.

Visual literacy: to comics or not to comics? Promoting literacy using comics

Learning To Read From Comics: Comics As Gateways To Literacy 

It was enormous fun – with serious intent – we were there to share and learn, and everyone had experience, insight or information to contribute.

In fact, our pleasant afternoon at the Grafton was almost exactly like the definition of ‘un Café Littéraire’ found in Wikipedia: a place to meet in order to talk about literature, exchange ideas, listen to book excerpts and take part in intellectual plays, all whilst enjoying coffee or another drink.* Although we did not include readings, I think that would be an excellent addition to the event, and if anyone is up for acting in an intellectual play – please let us know!

*Not that I use Wikipedia as a matter of course, but in some cases it is really rather good!

* [Un café littéraire est un lieu de réunion où l’on parle de littérature, échange des idées, écoute des extraits de livres lus par des comédiens, assiste à des spectacles érudits tout en dégustant un café, ou autre boisson.]

Penny Swan

[Librarian – The Grey Coat Hospital School ; Hon. Secretary CILIP SLG London & SE]

Café Littéraire – Saturday 23rd January 2016 – The Grafton Arms NW5

Recommended graphic novel titles for school libraries

Recommended graphic novels for school librariesOur fantastic visit to the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London has really given all participants an insight into the world of graphic novels and really interesting discussions about some of the pitfalls regarding content and appropriate audiences for different age groups.

The store manager, Lou Ryrie, who is also a huge advocate for school libraries has put together just for our event a list of recommended titles, with very detailed comments about age-suitability and useful warnings. You can now find the list below:

Recommended graphic novels for school libraries.

Another fantastic source of recommended manga and comics lists for children and Young Adult is the Comic Literacy Awareness organisation (CLAW):

You can contact Lou for any queries at the following email:

Stan Lee Excelsior Award

We would also would like to draw your attention to the Stan Lee Excelsior Award which is the only nationwide book award for graphic novels and manga. Kids aged 11-16 decide the winner out of a shortlist of eight titles by rating each book as they read it.

To discover more, visit the award website:


Forbidden planet collage JPEG

SLG London and South-East have recently organised a twilight visit to the Forbidden Planet Megastore. I was really hoping that visiting the store, talking with the knowledgeable staff and other enthusiastic geek colleagues would give me some useful pointers and it did!

What are the best graphic novels for my students? How do I recognise comics that may not be suitable because of content or age group? What can I recommend next when a student finishes to read all my Narutos? What titles are most suitable if I want to push my students to read harder texts?

All these issues and more were discussed in a very friendly atmosphere. As a matter of fact, staff had even organised for our group to have the whole store for ourselves which really gave us the opportunity to browse and have their undivided attention and expertise at our fingertips.

The whole event had a number of invaluable highlights:

  1. Special discount for libraries. I could not resist the opportunity to fill a couple of baskets of new titles for my library after discovering the special discount that they offer to school libraries. Not only a lot of their children’s and teen  titles are on a regular 3X2 offer, they will also apply an additional 10% discount on top of that. I left the books with them so that they can put together an itemised list of what I have purchased: I will then receive the books after the invoice has been paid by next -day free delivery. Brilliant!
  2.  Visit the store with your students. I also intend to take a group of my super-geek students as part of a reward trip to the store. Provided that you give advance notice, you can bring groups of students in to select the books themselves. I frankly really look forward to seeing their flabbergasted expressions at all the titles available.
  3. Personalised comics recommendations for your library. It was absolutely fantastic to discover that the store’s manager is a huge library advocate. She is always available at the end of an email to give any special recommendations if you have specific request and you need advice. Just like the service provided by School Library Services, she can put together a list of comics suitable just your students or the restrictions imposed by your school!
  4. Recommended titles for school librarians. A number of handouts, recommended reading lists and freebies were distributed to all attendants. The manager’s list is particularly useful because it includes comments and observations on content, age range and suitability for different students. Watch this space for a digital copy of this list! In the meanwhile, we have put together some recommended websites and articles to wet your appetite on this topic:
    Recommended Reading Lists from the ALA
    Interesting articles from the National Council of teachers of English, Schools Library Journal and others:

Graphic Novels for School Libraries – Twilight visit to Forbidden Planet shop London

Join us for our return to Forbidden Planet!
We will be reprising last year’s successful visit to the Forbidden Planet shop
at 179, Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR

on Wednesday 21st October from 7.00pm – 8.30pm


  • We will enjoy sole occupancy of the shop from 7.30pm onwards and a talk by experienced staff.
  • Hear their latest recommendations and avoid the possible pitfalls when buying comics & graphic novels.
  • Special discount of 10% off all books and audiobooks purchased on the night.
  • Meet downstairs in the book section in front of the sales desk.
  • There is no charge and booking is not essential, although preferred so that we can judge numbers.
Contact Amanda Ball at Portland Place School

STREAM 2015 – FREE Book Festival

STREAM South London Book Festival 2015 will be opened this year by masters of words and pictures, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell and author, poet and performer Michael Rosen in an entertaining and interactive family event. STREAM2015 has a stellar line-up of authors and events for readers of all ages, from nursery-school age through to Young Adults, including Francesca Simon with Horrid Henry, Steve Butler with The Diary of Dennis the Menace, the lively and interactive Beast Quest show, workshops with Phoenix comics, a ‘Story Shop’ session, Jim Smith with Barry Loser, author, broadcaster and former stand-up comic Natalie Haynes with The Ancient Guide to Modern Life and, following resounding success at the Edinburgh Festival, YA authors Laura Dockrill and James Dawson with their ‘Twisted Fairytales’ session.The festival will close with comedian and author David Baddiel and his new children’s book The People Controller.

Details of all authors and events can be found at , where bookings can also be made.

STREAM is a FREE event and open to all. The Festival takes place at the Streatham & Clapham High School, 42 Abbostswood Rd, SW16 1AW on Saturday 7 November, 10 am – 5 pm. Children under 12 years must be accompanied by adults. Fabulous food is supplied by Norwood Feast.


Café Littéraire

Tea and conversation flowed freely on Saturday afternoon as we enjoyed  Tea & Tattle ‘s pleasant surroundings, scrummy food and an opportunity to chat with authors and other lovers of children’s books.

Author Sufiya Ahmed with trainer Anne Harding and CILIP SLG's Barbara Ferramosca.
Author Sufiya Ahmed with trainer Anne Harding and CILIP SLG’s Barbara Ferramosca.

Inclusivity was a major topic of the day, as ‘diversity superhero’ Anna McQuinn, Sufiya Ahmed (Secrets of the Henna Girl) and trainer Anne Harding got together to put the world of children’s book publishing to rights!  Don’t miss Anna’s seminal blog on how recognition of this vital issue led her to found independent inclusive publisher Alanna Books and Anne’s recent post with links to copious book recommendations.

What are you playing at A copy of What Are You Playing At? by  Marie-Sabine Roger, published by Alanna Books will make the perfect centrepiece for a Diversity Week display.


Highlights from the eleven years Paul Crooks spent researching his Afro-Caribbean roots were fascinating, particularly the mixture of dedication and sheer luck that led to his eventual success.  A copy of  Ancestors, his fictionalised version of the personal history he uncovered will be a great addition to the shelves.   Extremely knowledgeable on Britain’s transatlantic slave trade he will also address KS3 students and 6th Form.

Tamsyn Murray shared highlights from her recently published Completely Cassidy 2  - Star ReporterCompletely Cassidy: Star Reporter.  A second episode in the hectic, Year 7 life of Cassidy Bond, subject of Tamsyn’s popular and very funny series for pre-teens.

Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliot

Patricia Elliott talked to us about teaching children’s literature, her current plans and the breadth of her work to date.  Promoting her brand new Connie Carew mystery The House of Eyes published just this month,  The Devil in the Corner a Victorian, gothic, murder mystery from last year and not forgetting, of course, her popular, romantic Pimpernelles series set during the French Revolution.

Mark of Cain

Lindsey Barraclough treated us to a glimpse of the creative process behind her atmospheric tale of witchcraft from last year, Mark of Cain.  Hugely popular with KS4, it is her second story set the village of Bryers Guerdon and begins a few years after Carnegie Award nominated Long Lankin.    

Finally, it was also a pleasure to meet Amanda Lillywhite and learn more about the life of an illustrator, her styles, work in magazines, brochures, posters and educational books and particularly her online webcomics.

All in all, a very pleasant and informative afternoon, and a format that we hope to repeat very soon!

Authors Tamsyn Murray, Anna McQuinn, Sufiya Ahmed and Paul Crooks at Tea & Tattle on Saturday

Authors Tamsyn Murray, Anna McQuinn, Sufiya Ahmed and Paul Crooks at Tea & Tattle on Saturday

SLG London and SE – January Social!

Don’t miss our visit to the British Library’s exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination–the-gothic-imagination
followed by our Winter Social in the function room at the nearby Central Station pub.

On Saturday 17th January – ALL WELCOME!

See the exhibition (which ends 20th January) at a special discounted price and then join us for a drink and networking.

Meet in the British Library foyer at 3.15pm for entry to the exhibition at 3.30pm
Exhibition closes at 5.00pm
when we will adjourn to the pub 5.30-9.00pm

Exhibition £9 per person
Social £5 per person including one FREE drink and ticket for prize draw!

Food and more drinks available to purchase.


 To book contact Amanda Ball

or phone 0207 307 8700

See you there!

A Trip To A Forbidden Planet


It is notoriously difficult to choose graphic novels for school libraries and so On Wednesday, 22 October, CILIP’s School Libraries Group for London and the Southeast met at Forbidden Planet ( As you may know (or may not if you’ve been living in the Batcave) Forbidden Planet is the world’s largest and best-known science fiction, fantasy and cult entertainment retailer, and the largest UK stockist of the latest comics and graphic novels. What they don’t know about the genre isn’t worth knowing.
The event was well attended by around twenty school librarians and paraprofessionals, who were able to spend the evening browsing across the many genres available at the store, get advice from the extremely knowledgeable staff and then purchase at a discount. At the end of the night the store’s Deputy Manager, Lou Ryrie, gave the librarians in attendance a talk about what manga and graphic novels were appropriate for school-aged children and made other suggestions for ideas of books that could be purchased that evening, such as Batman Year One, Maus, Case Closed and Full Metal Alchemist.
Of course it finished with everyone having tea, coffee and biscuits and exchanging contact information, etc. What would a school librarian event be without chat and biscuits!?

Forbidden Planet gives a 10% discount to all libraries. If you are interested in ordering from them, please contact Lou at, for advice and purchasing. Forbidden Planet will take a purchase order and then when payment is received will deliver to libraries free of charge. Drop them a line for advice too, they really know their stuff and can guide you through the graphic minefield!

We will be compiling some lists based on the night, so watch this space for that info, and for news of other events.

Image credit to

Post contributed by Amanda Ball

The Ultimate Guide to Comics and Manga


Choosing graphic novels, comics and manga for your school library can be a bit of a minefield. This event run by London and South East SLG will help you choose the right material for your pupils, and it’s a great opportunity to meet up with other school librarians, and explore the wonders of Forbidden Planet.

Date & Time:
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 – 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Visit to the Forbidden Planet shop

This free visit will give attendees an introduction to the manga, comic/graphic novel genre, and an opportunity to take advantage of the discounts available for libraries. Discounts of 10% will be available for purchases on the night, with free delivery!

All (members and non-members) are welcome to this free event.

No booking required: just meet at the shop.

Speakers – SLG committee members and staff from Forbidden Planet.
The Forbidden Planet
179 Shaftesbury Avenue
WC2H 8JR London , LND
United Kingdom
See map: Google Maps
Contact Details

Amanda Berrisford
0207 307 8700
Library and Information Sector Subject Tags

School libraries
Event Format

– See more at: