DGS Library is a vibrant and stimulating space which is used regularly both for research and independent studying, as well as for relaxed and enjoyable reading. It is a welcoming and safe environment used by the whole school community on a daily basis, for teaching, learning and academic achievement.
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Visit from Jo Cotterill, our Patron of Reading
On Thursday 12th January, Years 7 and 8 were treated to another fun-filled visit from our fantastic Patron of Reading, Jo Cotterill. Year 7 students were given a very lively demonstration of how electricity works – a product of Jo’s research to ensure that the science behind her ‘Electrigirl’ series is as accurate as possible.’ Electrigirl’ follows the story of Holly, who is an ordinary girl until she gets superpowers as a result of being hit by lightning. Jo needed volunteers to act out the behaviour of electrons, which saw every student in the hall raise their hand in the hope of being chosen to run round in a circle, through a human switch, and to the shouts of a human battery. The effect of static electricity was also demonstrated on the hair of a very kind volunteer!
One of the brilliant things about this series is that they are written partly as a novel, and partly as a comic strip, which really brings the action to life with beautiful drawings by Cathy Brett.
Following on from the ‘Electrigirl’ talk they had with Jo last year, Year 8 heard all about another two of Jo’s books,’ A Library of Lemons’ and ‘Looking at the Stars’. This time, Jo encouraged the students to explore the qualities that might be required of a child refugee in order to survive the conflict they so desperately want to escape, as dealt with in ‘Looking at the Stars’. This gave the girls some context to her work, which is ever-relevant to today’s world. Following this, a lively game involving lemons got the girls to think about friendship and literature as an introduction to ‘A Library of Lemons’.
Jo was in high demand over lunch time as her books sold out and students queued through the library for a chance to meet her and get her autograph.
A workshop with selected Year 7 students gave them the chance to create their own stories. The girls were challenged to generate story ideas having been given a random combination of a setting, object and genre-type, and Jo was very impressed with the imaginative and often very amusing suggestions the girls had.
Oxfordshire Book Awards 2016
On 9th November the Reading Ambassadors went to Oxford High School to watch the presentation ceremony of the Oxfordshire Book Awards. Five famous authors and illustrators were there, including Steve Antony, Oliver Jeffers, Steve Lenton, Tom McLaughlin, Lisa Williamson and Teri Terry, to accept awards for either Highly Commended or Best Book in their respective categories.
During the wards we learnt how to draw a panda using simple shapes and letters, with Steve Anthony, author and illustrator of the Best Picture Book, Please Mr Panda. He is colour-blind, which is why his books focus on the stories of black and white animals, and spoke to the audience about overcoming adversity to pursue our dreams. We also learned how to draw Broccoli Boy and Pete the Penguin with Steve Lenton, who illustrated the winning book of the Best Primary novel award, The Astounding Broccoli Boy.
We also had the opportunity to ask questions to each of the authors, who told us about their favourite animals and their inspiration for writing. At the end of the awards, our Patron of Reading, Jo Cotterill, who was the afternoon’s special guest, launched the 2017 awards, which we are looking forward to reading the nominations for.
Afterwards, we were able to buy books from the shortlisted authors, as well as get them signed. There was also a lot of cake, which was a definite highlight!
It was a great experience, and we all had an excellent time.
On Tuesday 1st November, Year 7 students were treated to spooky stories by storyteller Mike O’Leary. The library was filled with the sound of bagpipes, bells, singing and thunder throughout the day, with the students expressing their delight with shrieks of laughter and cries of surprise as Mike span his Halloween-themed tales. Imaginations were truly captured as the girls helped to dig up invisible trees, and ducked to avoid imaginary stones. Mike reminded us that we are all storytellers in our own way, and one student was overheard saying that she would like to work as a storyteller when she is older – a truly wonderful ambition!
School Library Catalogue
The school library catalogue is now available for students to access both at home and in school.
This can be accessed by clicking here or by clicking on the ‘School Library’ link in the Quick Links section of the school homepage. Here, students are able to search for available resources by typing in a book title, author or key word. A list will then be shown of the relevant resources – a green tick next to a resource will indicate that it is currently available in the library; a red cross indicates that a resource is currently on loan and therefore not available. This will allow students to plan for homework, or find out if the latest book by their favourite author is in stock.
Students are able to borrow two fiction and one non-fiction book at a time for a period of two weeks, and DVDs and audiobooks for two days.
For help using the catalogue, students can ask the library manager, Mrs Barnes, or you can email her on email@example.com
Visit from author Jo Cotterill
On Tuesday 28th June we were lucky enough to have award-winning children’s author Jo Cotterill return to visit the school. Jo's visits in the past have been well-remembered by staff and students alike for her lively and engaging talks, and this was no different. During second lesson, Year 7 students were treated to excerpts from Jo’s half-comic half-novel adventure, Electrigirl, featuring Holly Sparkes, a young girl who finds she has super powers following a freak accident. Jo also included a demonstration of how electricity behaves, with eager volunteers from the audience acting as electrons, as well as an over-enthusiastic battery! Sadly, there wasn’t enough time for Jo to answer everyone’s questions, but every student who did ask a question was given an Electrigirl badge.
A selection of Year 7s were also treated to a writing workshop with Jo, in which they produced some very amusing love-letters to a pimple as a warm-up activity. There was also the opportunity for students to buy signed copies of Jo’s books over lunch-time, which gave them the chance to talk to Jo one-on-one.
The impact of visiting authors on students’ attitude to and engagement with reading cannot be underestimated. We look forward to working with Jo again in the near future on exciting projects within the school.
Reading Ambassadors Update
As half term approaches, we are well underway with our reading of the titles on this year’s Carnegie shortlist. The Reading Ambassadors meet in the library every Thursday to discuss the books they have read or are in the process of reading. While the majority of the group are on their second or third shortlisted book, we are yet to catch up with Katherine, who is currently reading her sixth! We are joined this year by the two interns currently working in our English department, Ms Clark and Ms Wilmink, who are helping to provoke interesting discussion, and encouraging the group to share powerful quotes from the books they are reading. The forthcoming week off from school should give us all plenty of opportunities to get some more reading in!The Carnegie Medal is the ‘oldest and most prestigious book award for children’s writing’, and this year’s winner will be announced on 20th June.
This term, the Reading Ambassadors have also been making weekly visits to the Didcot Health and Wellbeing Centre to read to the users of the centre for an hour each week. It is hoped that the scheme will have benefits for all involved, with students practising reading aloud, users of the centre getting to hear some fantastic stories, and all parties forming relationships that otherwise might never have had the opportunity to blossom.
Mrs L Barnes, Library Manager
Celebration of Reading Week
29/02/16 - 04/03/16
During the week beginning 29th February, the Reading Ambassadors successfully hosted Didcot Girls’ School’s first Celebration of Reading Week!
On the Monday, we held a reading treasure trail, which involved following many exciting clues, and helped people understand the Dewey Decimal System for non-fiction along the way. There were prizes to be won for all who took part, including sweets, stationery and books.
On Tuesday, there were Divergent themed activities in the library. In Veronica Roth’s bestselling teen book Divergent, people are split into five factions based on their personality traits, so participants took the faction quiz and then took part in an activity based on their answers. People enjoyed making friendship bracelets, guessing what was in blacked out boxes and playing two truths and one lie.
Popular YA author Virginia Bergin visited the school on the Wednesday. She was greeted by an excitable hall of Year 9s, where she gave a talk. Virginia enlightened the girls about her wonderful books: ‘The Rain’ and ‘The Storm’, inspiring many to read them. She was a truly rousing speaker, talking about how she believed she would never become a writer, only to have a book published the first time she sent it to a publisher. Her hilarity and modesty made for an outstanding presentation. In the library, Virginia signed books for eager fans, and answered any questions they had for her. A few lucky students were able to spend more time with Virginia, talking about her books being published in other countries and also finding out about potential sequels! It would be an honour for Virginia to revisit the school and spend more time talking to students.
In addition to this, on the Thursday we were also lucky enough to be in the presence of author Chris Higgins, whose teen books have won many awards. She entertained both the Year 7s and Year 8s by reading excerpts from her books that had the girls laughing, and resulted in a long line of students queuing up in the library to buy her books. There was also the opportunity for Chris to answer any questions, which were very entertaining, and she was kind to all the students. In the afternoon, she held a writing workshop for the school’s keenest writers, and held a 2 minute writing competition, where each student had to write an attention-grabbing introduction to a story within a short time limit. The best stories won a signed book from Chris!
Finally, to conclude the week, there was a book character costume competition, and it was lovely to see so many people dressed up during the day! Overall, the Celebration of Reading Week was a great success, and we thank everyone for participating in the different events.
Ceri Jones 10KAP and Katherine Burns 10EWR
DGS Visits Oxfordshire Book Awards
“The Oxfordshire Book Awards is an amazing opportunity for children and teens alike to explore different genres of writing and meet different authors. These events inspire students to become better writers, good readers and to enjoy English. They also encourage creative thinking and show students that no matter where you are from, you can achieve amazing things like these authors have. I thoroughly enjoyed this event and would highly recommend it to future students!”
Charlie Turlier 10EWR
“The Oxfordshire Book Awards is an amazing event that I was lucky enough to attend. Authors presented their winning books and some students shared their reviews of the books. After all the awards had been presented, we went for afternoon tea and socialised with readers from other schools. As well as this great opportunity to meet new people from other schools, we were also able to get books signed by the authors. This event was a truly great trip for me, and I am excited to go again next year!”
Eloise Turlier 8DH
Author Robin Stevens
Today a few girls travelled to King Alfred’s to celebrate the announcement of the Carnegie award. At the event there were avariety of activities linked to the books such as making dolls-cuckoo song . At the awards we met new people and got to learn about genres and books we would not normally read. As we all shared the same passion for something, it was really nice to actually celebrate it and encourage it. First off, we went round and had a go at various activities and read some information linked to the books. After we had done that we ate lunch and then sat around anxiously for the results. Within our group we all voted for the book that we all wanted to win and the results were a tie between More than this and Tinder. The actual winner of the awards was Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman and there were mixed feelings on the book but overall it was a really exiting, eventful day. If anyone else gets the chance I would highly recommend going because it is a really great experience to have and it will be a day you wont forget.
Jasmine Barnes 7DH
Cathy Cassidy visits DGS!
Over 400 students were given the opportunity to meet popular children’s author Cathy Cassidy on Tuesday morning. Cathy gave an inspirational talk to pupils in years 7 and 8. The author, who is most famous for the ‘Chocolate Box Girls’ series, spoke about all sorts of things including her penchant for daydreaming through school, the Scottish highlands and what it’s like to be an author. Cathy also read extracts from her two new books – ‘Fortune Cookie’, the last in the ‘Chocolate Box’ series and ‘Looking Glass Girl’, a thoroughly modern look at Lewis Carroll’s classic ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.
Afterwards, Cathy took questions and pupils formed a very long queue to have their newly bought books signed. Olivia Mobbs, a year 7 pupil, said: “she had some really helpful ideas on how to write a book”. Caitlin Conely, also in year 7, liked the unusual advice offered by Cathy: “she gave us advice on how to daydream”.
Cathy was an exciting and engaging speaker who left a buzz about books in her wake.
Thank you, Cathy!
Join the Debate
Bring your lunch and join the discussions. Everyone is welcome!
In the Library every Monday lunchtime.
Jo Cotterill visits Didcot Girls' School
On Thursday 23rd April, Year 7 students at Didcot Girls' School were treated to a talk from successful author Jo Cotterill. Jo is the author of the popular 'Sweet Hearts' series, novel 'Looking at the Stars,' and many more brilliant books. During the talk, Jo offered some insight into the writing process and her inspirations. The girls had lots of questions and Jo's energy and enthusiasm for writing inspired many of the girls. Later in the day, a group of Year 7 students were lucky enough to take part in a writer's workshop with Jo. The girls were encouraged to think outside of the box, explore various genres and to tear up their writing. They did this with real enthusiasm! All in all, it was a great day and Year 7 really made the most of this fantastic opportunity.
Musings on World Book Day
Was I standing in a fairy tale?
A book? A play?
That’s what it felt like,
’Cause it was World Book Day!
Dressed up as Potter
With a wand at my side
Rushed through my mind.
Then I met Tin Tin
With his bright orange hair,
Then Katniss and Hermione
And a little white hare.
Then came Miss Trunchball
With a cane in her hand,
And told us, “Silence!”
Or in her cupboard we’d stand.
When we left English and headed to maths
We saw the Mad Hatter
And his maddest hats.
The fat, Hungry Caterpillar
Finished up lunch,
Until only the salad
Was left to munch.
Down in the café
Where’s Wally was hiding,
And Slytherin and Gryffindor
With wands out were fighting.
When all classes were over
And I went to bed
My amazing school day filled up my head.
My Experience of World Book Day
Leading up to World Book Day was almost as exciting as the day itself (almost). During English, every class in Years 7 and 8 was taught a special lesson about African folk tales, we were read out some very interesting ones-we then got to write our own. People also discussed who everyone was going to dress up as.
On Thursday, walking in to school, it was very strange; I saw Harry Potter waving his wand before I turned around to see Winnie-the-Pooh, it was very weird. There was an assembly and almost all of the Year 7 dressed up, creating a very funny scene for Miss Berrill standing at the front, looking at us all. During assembly, we found out that the new poet laureate was Harry Potter (Eve Gilmour).
First lesson was science and lining up was a bit too noisy while everyone swapped bows (for Katniss) and wands (for Harry Potter), while others tried to guess who everyone was. Break time was very exciting as in the library was a judging panel. You wrote your name down on a piece of paper and stood in a line while the judges took a note on you; the winners were announced at lunch time.
Next lesson was PE and everything got slightly more normal when everyone swapped from being Red Riding Hood, Where’s Wally and many other strange people to being a DGS school girl (in PE kit).
At lunch, the library announced the two winners: Tin Tin with bright orange hair and a quiff and the Mad Hatter with a huge hat and mad hair. They got some chocolates and a book. Then there was a big picture which must have looked very weird; almost every book character was there! In the library was a cake sale, selling cakes to Miss Trunchbull and dementors and a book sale with all the old books from the library being sold.
World Book Day was a very enjoyable experience and I hope it happens again next year.
Lily Gilmour 7GKK
Library News 13/02/15
The last week of half term has been really busy with pupils from local primary schools experiencing an International Day at DGS. It was such a lovely and lively atmosphere and at times it was hard not to imagine yourself being somewhere warm and exotic like Spain or Guadalupe! Children were really busy with various activities which broadened their knowledge of different cultures and languages.
We are finishing this term in a romantic mood. Our lovely teachers devoted their time to read some romantic, sometimes funny love poems and stories to students, to the enjoyment of both.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Book Club: Writing Letters, Publishing Houses and Favourite Authors
Today, at Year 7 Book Club we started writing letters to our favourite authors! Firstly, we discussed that we really wanted our authors to reply and tried to work out how we could get them to respond. So, we decided that we would pose some questions in our letters in the hope they would be more likely to respond.
Some questions include:
Will there be a sequel?
What happened to a specific character?
What did their kids do?
Did life change after the plot finished?
What drove you to kill that character off?
Have you ever come up with alternate plots for your story?
We then discussed our favourite authors and set about starting a letter. After we went over the correct layout for a letter, we did the addresses. However, we came up with a problem! None of us knew our authors addresses and whether to send it directly to our author or to the publishing house. So, we searched for each address on the internet and found that some seemed to be direct addresses for the authors: Cathy Cassidy, Jacqueline Wilson and Chris Higgins. Some, on the other hand, were to publishing houses, such as: Suzanne Collins and William Sutcliffe.
Towards the end of the session, we discussed our favourite publishing houses and debated which one chose the best books... Some people enjoyed Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Penguin and Harper Collins but my personal favourite, (and the company I hope to work for when I’m older) had to be Hot Key Books. All debates were great and we couldn’t come to a conclusion as all the publishing houses were just too good!
Another great meeting!
-Katherine Burns 9EWR
Book Club: Hogwarts, Letters and A Chocolate Factory
Today at Year 7 Book Club, we had loads of fun! We started by talking about all the Jacqueline Wilson books we had read. Many books such as My Sister Jodie, The Longest Whale Song, Hetty Feather and Dustbin Baby were discussed. Overall, many people loved The Longest Whale Song and Hetty Feather the most.
Next, we voted for the rest of this term’s authors. However, because there were so many options, we couldn’t just settle for one – we decided on one female and one male author. After much consideration, we voted for Roald Dahl and J.K Rowling.
Author, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot Roald Dahl is one of the world’s best-selling authors. He still sells millions of books annually and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is now classed as a classic. Other popular books of his include Matilda, The BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox and George’s Marvellous Medicine.
J.K Rowling is best known for the highly awarded Harry Potter series. They are the bestselling book series in history and also the basis for the highest grossing film series in history. In October 2010, she was named Most Influential Woman in Britain and she has supported charities like Comic Relief and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain – a charity very close to me and my family’s heart.
So, watch out for more information on those authors and how much we enjoyed their books. Also, we started thinking about the authors that we are all going to write and send a letter to, and we’ll start writing those next week.
Here are some of the authors that we’re sending letters to:
- Kiera Cass
- Robert Muchamore
- Derek Landy
- Jacqueline Wilson
- Cathy Cassidy
- David Walliams
- J.K Rowling
- Beth Reekles
Katherine Burns 9EWR
- Famous in Love, Rebecca Serle
- The Iron King, Julie Kagawa
- Lily Alone, Jacqueline Wilson
- Queenie, Jacqueline Wilson
- Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding
- Soulmates, Holly Bourne
- The Kissing Booth, Beth Reekles
- Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
- The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare
- Matched, Ally Condie
- CoCo Caramel, Cathy Cassidy
- My Sister Jodie, Jacqueline Wilson
- The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
- Dork Diaries, Rachel Renée Russell
- Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
- Mates, Dates, Cathy Hopkins
- The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
- Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier
- Hetty Feather, Jacqueline Wilson
- Little Man Fred, Michael Morpurgo
- Caspar the Prince of Shadows, Michael Morpurgo
- Skulduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy
- Cherub, Robert Muchamore
- Kite spirit, Sita Brahmachari
- Girls Under Pressure, Jacqueline Wilson
- Malory Towers, Enid Blyton
- The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
- Charm School, Nelson DeMille
Term 1 Library News
This has been a really exciting term in the DGS Library! We are very grateful to ISIS Concept Ltd which has donated fantastic contemporary furniture for our sixth form area and comfortable chairs for the rest of the library. First users were very impressed with our Apple pod and there is hardly any time that the pod is not occupied by students of all age groups.
The Book Club, run by fantastic Year 9 students Katherine Burns and Ceri Jones, is getting more popular every week and it is so lovely to see Year 7 students participating in such interesting book discussions.
We are finishing the term with “Terrifying Tales in the Library”. Thanks to our ever enthusiastic members of staff, who have given their break and lunchtimes to read their favourite scary stories to students in the run up to Halloween; we are ready for a half-term full of excitement and lots of sweets!
Author Caroline Hough’s visit to DGS
Today an ex-DGS PE teacher came to our school. During period one, Caroline Hough, now a published author gave a writing workshop to ten Year 7 students who had each been selected by their English teachers.
We discussed different things a person would need for writing a novel like Caroline Hough’s science fiction Solicia, and also we wrote our own short pieces designed to make the reader feel afraid. These were then read out, and we selected good points from each one, before reading through the blurb of Caroline’s book and discussing it in little detail before the end of the session.
Thank you to those who organised this- particularly Caroline Hough herself.
Hanah Taylor 7LC
The Carnegie Awards 2014
At the Carnegie Awards today, after arriving by mini-bus at King Alfred’s Academy’s East Site, the Carnegie shadowing groups from three schools enjoyed a variety of activities based on all the shortlisted books (With the exception of Bunker diary-apparently, thinking up a ‘fun’ activity to do with such a grim book is a very difficult task!)
Some of us made sock-puppet elephants or origami elephants from The Child’s Elephant: others made ‘life-story boxes’ from Blood Family.
Then we were divided into groups based on our favourite book, and put together a short presentation about our chosen novel. Blood family won; Bunker diary was second. The winners work was awarded with packets of Haribos.
After that it was lunch: a huge buffet of varied and delicious nibbles, before returning to the library after a short break outside to hear the Carnegie medal winner, Bunker Diary, announced.
I was ecstatic it was selected, as it was my personal favourite and an incredible, daring story.
Thank you to King Alfred’s for hosting the event!
Hannah Taylor 7LC
Year 9 students visit to Didcot Public Library
On Tuesday the 17th of June a group of girls from Year 9 had the privilege of visiting the local public library to get acquainted with its stock, sign in as members and engage in an activity organised by the Children and Young Adults Librarians.
The purpose of the visit was to give students a chance to enrol into the public library which they might wish to use during the long summer months when the school library is closed, as well as to encourage them to think about the books from a different perspective.
After the initial browsing, the girls engaged in speed dating with books where they had to choose a random book, and after two minutes of quick evaluation, based on cover, blurb and first paragraph, give it a total score in order to find a "perfect partner".
It was a truly enjoyable morning both for the girls and staff and we hope to take more visits to the library over the coming weeks.
World Book Night
Every year on the 23rd of April World Book Night is celebrated as an opportunity for passionate volunteers to share their love of reading by giving away hundreds of thousands of books to their local communities.
At Didcot Girls School we celebrated the occasion with another author visit. This time we were fortunate to welcome the multiple award winning author, Julia Golding. Julia spoke to all of Year 9 this morning about her career before she became a writer, the writing process and why she chooses to write under three different names.
It was an exciting morning where we learned, amongst much else, about where Julia draws her inspiration from, where she likes to write and what music she listens to when she is writing.
During morning break, some hard core fans enjoyed the opportunity of meeting Julia in person and having their books signed by her.
We are all very grateful to Julia for celebrating World Book Night with us and for creating such a wonderful day for our girls.
Author Visit - 20th March 2014
Today was a very special day for all the book lovers at DGS because we had a special guest who travelled all the way from Canada to talk to our lovely students. Deborah Ellis is not only an author with more than 20 books to her credit and many awards but she is also a tireless peace activist and feminist who draws inspiration from real life stories of people who are affected by wars. Deborah travels around the world and actively helps women and children better their lives by donating much of her royalties to worthy causes.
Deborah talked to the whole of Year 8 this morning about what inspired her to write and the girls formed a fantastic audience as they listened attentively and asked thoughtful questions. We learned that Deborah started to write because she felt she needed to bring the stories she had heard closer to home and to help the rest of us to better understand how wars affect human lives.
After the talk, Deborah spent time in the library and met with the girls from other year groups. She answered even more questions and signed copies of her books.
It was a truly fantastic and inspiring morning for all of us!
World Book Day 2014
On Thursday 6th of March 2014 we celebrated World Book Day with Jo Cotterill. Jo is one of the favourite authors for many girls in our schools and there was great excitement before her visit. Jo spoke to girls in Year 7 and some hard core fans from upper years about her latest book “Looking at the Stars”. Having been an actress and a teacher before she became the full time writer, she sailed through the morning and answered even the most challenging questions from our students. One of them was “What would you do if you found an unicorn in your bathroom?”. This one posed to be a real challenge and discussion continued during the book signing in the library.
It was an amazing morning for all of us. The Library was packed with students waiting patiently to have their books signed and have a photo with Jo. We couldn’t have wished for a better start of a World Book Day.
Our celebration continued with a “Design a bookmark” competition organised with the Art Department and for the whole school. The entries will be displayed in school and the whole school community will have a chance to vote for the best design. The winning bookmark will be designed by the Graphics Department and it will become the official DGS bookmark until the next World Book Day.
We have also launched “Join the local library” campaign with the aim of giving every student at our school a chance to join a public library through the school.
Our fantastic library monitors made mouth watering cakes which were sold during the break time, and raised money for more books for DGS.
Thank you to everyone who contributed towards making World Book Day at DGS such a success!