Friday, 28 June 2013

Marvellous librarian - Anne Thompson

I met Anne Thompson on Twitter, she's A Library Lady. We were discussing Beverley Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth. Since then, she's been a stalwart for me in discussing books, especially middle grade fiction. It's people like this that make book blogging glorious. So, here's more about Anne!

They're madhatters! Staff dressing up for World Book Day.
Anne Thompson has been a  librarian at Notre Dame School Cobham (an independent school for girls) for 13 years. She’s an institution!  Currently, she works in the prep library with 7-11 year old girls. At present there are two libraries, one for the pre-prep catering for ages 2-6 and another for the juniors (but this is changing!). The senior part of the school is on the same site and the girls in year 6 are also able to visit the senior library once a week.

WSD: What sort of activities are you involved in, as the librarian?

Anne Thompson:
The book related events such as author visits are something that really give me satisfaction. Although hard work to organise, the fabulous book related buzz they generate is wonderful. I have arranged visits by author illustrators such as James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy for the younger ones and talks and workshops by non-fiction writers like Stewart Ross and poets such as Philip Wells and Brian Moses for the older girls. We also have book fairs, quizzes, Get Caught Reading photo competitions and the ever popular dressing up as book characters too.

Aside from my library work I get involved with all aspects of school life, the role of school librarian can be a pastoral one too. For example each year I go on a residential trip to France for a week with our year 6 girls and do everything with them, including canoeing, the assault course and eating snails!
Author illustrator, Clara Vulliamy, in school visit
Author illustrator, Clara Vulliamy, in school
WSD: Your library space is changing? What would sorts of experiences would you like to enable in your new (or current ) library?

Anne Thompson:
In September we are opening a new prep library combining the existing pre-prep and prep libraries in one space. This is very exciting and I have been involved with the plans from the outset. The library will be made up of two areas, a quiet reading area containing fiction with comfy seating and a larger teaching area with non-fiction resources, computers, mobile technology (tablets of some sort) and a whiteboard.

This opens up lots of new opportunities. We are having a renewed focus on reading for pleasure, with DEAR (drop everything and read) sessions timetabled for all year groups and more reading aloud by both me and teachers. The increase in technology and seating in the new library will allow me to lead more research lessons which is something I have long wanted to do. We will also open the library to parents one afternoon after school each week.

WSD: Any top recommended reads for middle grade readers?

Anne Thompson:
My recommended reads change all the time but at the moment one of my favourites is Wonder by R J Palacio and lots of the girls love it too. Many enjoy Jacqueline Wilson books and I think Kate Maryon is a very good alternative. Her latest, Invisible Girl about a runaway is very thought provoking and excellent for provoking discussion. I have just read The Child's Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston and thought it was brilliant and a possible future award winner. If you like historical books, Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes set in Italy during World War 2 is a good read.

WSD: Anything else you're bursting to tell us?

Anne Thompson:
I love my job, there is something so special about being able to introduce a child to that special book that may turn them into a reader.
Thanks Anne, and all the best with your new library. Opening it up to parents - brilliant!
You can also find Anne over on the Bookbag book review website where she often reviews fiction for the 7-13 year oldish reader.

Next time, it's Duncan Wright, a marvellous superhero librarian.


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