Last week was a busy week for the English department and the Learning Resource Centre (the school library) as the senior school came together to celebrate World Book Day.
The Learning Resource Centre sits literally and metaphorically at the centre of the school. Libraries are temples of books and symbolise the school’s commitment to creating a reading culture. Our LRC is always busy with girls reading and studying. On World Book Day the LRC was a hive of activities as the girls came together to celebrate reading with various competitions and activities. These included the Guess the Girl competition (two students from each year group were photographed hidden behind a book); Guess the Book competition (guess the book by reading the opening paragraphs from eight well-known books); Design a bookmark competition (the winners will get their design professionally printed and used in the LRC); Book Sale and free World Book Day books were gifted to anyone who attended.
In addition to these exciting events, tutor groups were challenged with creating book covers. In this competition, tutor groups were given only forty minutes to choose a novel and then create a book cover which had to include pupils from the tutor group.
Here are the winning groups for each of the four categories:
- Aesthetic/visual impact – L6W Jaws
- Promotion of reading for pleasure and the joy of reading – 7A The Midnight Gang
- Perceptive comment on the issues and ideas in the novel – 11D Les Miserables
- Relevance of the image to the novel – 11B Moby Dick
Our exciting week culminated in the English department taking over the Friday afternoon assembly. As well as celebrating the events of the week, during this assembly, we also shone a light on the reading culture which is embedded throughout the school. Here is a taster of the topics covered:
Charlotte R, Ella G, Maria B and Sankavi R spoke about their participation in the Southern Schools Book Award, in which they read five books which were published last year for Young Adult readers and attended an event last week where they met the authors of those books. This year the winning book was ‘All Our Hidden Gifts’ by Caroline O’Donaghue.
Maia T spoke about an essay competition she has entered in which she debated whether the title ‘English Literature’ should be replaced with ‘Global Literature’. Her research uncovered issues around diversity and marginalised voices. Part of her research included reading ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Emilia C and Lilia C have given themselves the challenge of reading all of the ‘100 books’ which are on a scratch-off poster, created by WH Smiths and Waterstones. They are currency reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen and ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens.
Lucca P, Lily S and Emma H presented a topical speech about the sensitivity writers who have been hired by Puffin to rewrite ‘offensive language’ in Roald Dahl’s books. This raised many questions about the culture of cancelling and censorship, as well as language change and offensive language. One of the books which have had language changed is ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, in which Augustus Gloop used to be described as “enormously fat” and is now referred to as simply “enormous”.
Pupils in Years 7 and 8 explained some of the work that goes on throughout the year to promote books and to encourage pupils to establish healthy reading habits. Sanaya P, Emelia E and Constance W talked about the reading scheme in Year 7, called the Reading Passport, while Amelie C, Zoe T and Lillian P, explained the reading scheme in Year 8, the Reading Wall.
Year 7 also explained the role of student School Librarians and invited new applicants for this position. Arianna G told the school about extracurricular clubs that are run by the LRC: the Book Chat club, and the new Branford Boase reading club. Rosie G ended by sharing her love of graphic novels and explained why they can be a great read for people with dyslexia or who struggle with longer texts.
Maddison and Amelie D are avid readers and have previously worked with the LRC and the English department to promote reading by interviewing authors during the lockdowns. The twins were keen to share recommendations of some of their favourite books, including ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt.
Reading has always been central to Burgess Hill Girls. The pioneers who created the school placed reading as the first aim of the school: ‘To give children the habit of using books and delighting in them’. As evident from the long list of speakers and the wide variety of topics covered, over one hundred years on we are still promoting the academic and well-being benefits of reading for pleasure.