How to Discover New Places Without Breaking the Covid Restrictions: Share a Story

World Book Day is always special for everyone at Westholme; we get to share our love of books. And this year was no exception: Westholme students have learned how to escape the shackles of lockdown through the enjoyment of some brilliant books.

Staff across all subjects were able to share their favourite books with their classes. And through this sharing, pupils were able to discover that it is possible to escape the country from the comfort of their own homes. And that’s the beauty of a good book: it gives you the power to experience a new destination or even a different time.

Afghanistan and America were the destinations for some of our pupils in Year 9. One Year 9 class had the pleasure of listening to Mrs Davenport, our Commercial Director, sharing an extract from ‘The Kite Runner’. She definitely ‘whet their appetite’ and talked about how to identify a good book. Her remarks resonated with me; she said that you know that it is a good book if every time you return to it, you discover something new. This is a great rule of thumb for discovering your favourite book.

This message rang true for Dr Robson’s choice of text: ‘Long Walk to Freedom’. Sometimes, in our effort to get reading, we neglect non-fiction. When Dr Robson proudly shared this as one of his favourite books, I could see that this is a book that he returns to time and time again. Looking at it, you can see that the spine is battered and the pages well-thumbed, but this is a book that is truly treasured by him. Dr Robson explained to Mr Cornwall’s Year 9 English class that the book was incredibly well-written and it shows the journey that Mandela undertakes in his life, transforming him from ‘a prisoner to the President’. Muhammad, a Year 9 pupil from the class, revealed that he really enjoyed Mandela’s use of metaphors and imagery. He said, ‘It really captured how life in prison moves very slowly.’ Muhammad said that his favourite book was ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, but Dr Robson had tempted him with this choice of autobiographical text.

Venturing from South Africa to Victorian London, Miss Roberts shared an extract with her class from ‘Dorian Gray’: a novel that cleverly explores duality and duplicity. Whilst Mrs Oracz shared the story of ‘Stick Man’. She chose this book because it is her ‘favourite book to share with her son’. We too, in the English Department, love Julia Donaldson and we couldn’t imagine WBD without an appearance from her.

Miss Dent’s class, 8H, were delighted to discover that some short stories can provide artistic inspiration. The book of short stories celebrated by Miss Dent created a discussion about dream diaries and how artistic inspiration can be derived from literature. We are delighted that books are prompting discussion, just like a brilliant piece of art!

Throughout the day Westholme pupils have witnessed and experienced the love that Westholme teachers feel for a wide range of books. We’ve heard that Mr Charnock is a keen enthusiast of spy fiction; some pupils think he may be researching the world of espionage to prepare him for the role of James Bond! Whereas Mr Hiller shared an extract from a book called ‘The Rosie Project’, a novel that features a brilliant scientist as the main character! Interestingly, Mrs Santi shared her recent discovery of a relatively new book called, ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’, which offers her comfort and inspiration as she can dip into whenever she needs a philosophical boost. In contrast, Mrs Hibberd shared a reading from ‘The School of Wundrous Arts’. She explained that Morrigan, the main character, learned ‘the wretched art of inferno’. Mrs Hibberd told her pupils that magic and science would be a perfect curriculum for a Chemistry teacher. Although, Mrs Hibberd’s pupils told us that her lessons are always magical (they think she may have taught at Hogwarts in the past)!

The English Department are eager to read the World Book Day entries from our intrepid competitors and we hope to deliver the results in an assembly soon. We can’t wait to discover our pupils’ favourite books.

After this wonderful day of bookish fun, I am keen for this magic to continue and our adventures need to be prolonged. Therefore, the English Department wants to continue this collective appreciation of books through our Westholme community. The English Department is launching a reading group through the ‘Good Reads’ app where we will be reading a new book each month. Our pupils will be invited to discussion groups to share their views about a range of books; members of the group can also share their thoughts on the app.

Thank you to our pupils and staff for all their involvement and enthusiasm; these days are so much fun as a result of this positive Westholme spirit. Wishing you all good reading! Where will your next book take you?