JAB

Tea, biscuits and long lists!

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Last night, we had our final long list meeting! Favourite books were championed, tea was consumed and many, many biscuits were eaten!

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Over the past few months, JAB members have been searching bookshops, using their local libraries and visiting festivals to collect wonderful books that we think could be part of the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2019. We were delighted by the response from publishers this year and many boxes and parcels have arrived, full of goodies for us to savour. Hard as it has been, we have been working our way through these and suggestions from members until- hundreds of books later- we are ready to share this year’s long list for each category- on Saturday!

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Starting with poetry, we worked our way through each of our six categories with different members championing their favourite reads. The range and quality on offer was amazing and we enjoyed sharing ideas for how books could be used in classrooms, for guided reading, book events or library sessions.

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Tea top-ups and new packets of biscuits were needed as the evening wore on and the discussions became increasingly heated. Reluctantly, some books were put to one side- some occasionally sneaked back into the discussion pile when no one was looking- until at last we had six long lists of wonderful books- twenty picture books, twelve poetry, twelve information, twelve quality fiction, twelve read aloud and twelve moving on. Can’t wait to share them…

Time to reflect on the year that's passed...

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It's been another very busy year for us here at JAB/ NSTBA HQ. In fact, I can't quite believe it's gone! So here's a quick round up of some of the things we've been up to!

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The Awards:

2018 saw our fourth book awards. Once again, it was made a lovely occasion by those who attended and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. A huge thank you to all those who attended- the authors, illustrators, colleagues, family and friends. See you at the 2019 awards!

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This year, the number of votes we received increased again and school membership has gone up. Our aims for next year are to encourage more colleagues from member schools to give up their precious Saturday afternoon to attend the award ceremony and to increase the size of the long listing group! Each category is going to have its own sub committee this year who will bring suggestions to the main group. We have already started reading and gathering suggestions for 2019 and are looking forward to sharing and discussing these. It will be our 5th anniversary so we’re planning to celebrate!

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The Blog:

More and more people are visiting the website with thousands of page views each month. The feedback we get is really positive; many people have told us that they use our reviews to select books for home and school- and to read for themselves. We also share planning, themed book lists and book event ideas in the Members' Section. As we all work full time, have families and are generally busy people, this is something we would like to develop further, but it might have to wait for retirement days! At the moment, we add to it when we can! Each of our winning titles from the past four years has planning/ ideas either available or in production and many of the short listed books for our Quality Fiction category have also been used as key texts and there are planning ideas available for them.

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Last year, we posted over 300 book reviews. In addition, we shared Guest Posts, Brilliant Bookshops, Places To Visit and feedback from author visits, festivals and events related to books! It’s hard to keep up at times as we read far more than we have time to review…

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JAB (Book Group):

Our two teacher book groups started 2018 very well with us gathering to share cake, biscuits and books regularly. Duncan Beedie joined us for one meeting and Peter Shelton from Beanstalk SW came along to talk about their work too.

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Sadly, the new school year has been over run by after school meetings (four a week since the October half term!), leaving no time for the meetings we would much rather be attending! Still, we have dates in the diary for next term so here's hoping we'll be back to normal! JAB (Just About Books) has been going for over 10 years now- that's a lot of books discussed and enjoyed- and we're all keen to continue!

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Author Visits:

We have been very lucky again this year and have had the opportunity to offer author visits to hundreds of children in North Somerset. Will Mabbitt, Sarah Lean, Liz Kessler and Steve Antony are among the authors and illustrators who have joined us.

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These visits have a real impact on the children (and staff). As well as being a fun way to spend an hour or so, they raise the profile of reading, inspire children to read, write and draw, make writing seem more achievable, make authors/ illustrators come to life... We are so grateful to everyone who has visited, to the publishers who have helped and supported us and for the constant support of Waterstones in Weston, particularly Rowan, who never hides when he sees me coming with some new request!

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Festivals:

This year, we visited literary festivals in Weston, Oxford (driving through snow storms to get there!), Hay, Cardiff, Chipping Norton, Bristol, Cheltenham, Bath and South Kensington.

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There are so many more we would like to visit so this year, there will be no stopping us! If you hear of/ know a goodie, please let us know!

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Brilliant Bookshops:

Always on a look out for great books, we spend half our lives in bookshops! New ones to us this year were The Marlow Bookshop, Blandford Books in Broadway, Jaffe and Neale (both shops!), Winstones in Sidmouth, Korn and Berg in Nuremberg, Gerrards Cross Bookshop, The Yellow Lighted Bookshop (both shops), Hatchards, Octavia's in Cirencester, Daunt Books and the Chorleywood Bookshop.

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Each of these has been written about on the bog and many others have been re-visited too! Next year, we intend to seek out those in the Brighton area and investigate those in the Liverpool and Manchester areas! Suggestions welcome!

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Book launches and events:

Sadly, we have to decline most of the things we are invited to as they do not fit in with a teachers' life! Getting to London for 6pm on a Thursday, for example, is impossible! We are usually leaving school at that time (often being forcibly removed!), but even if we were able to leave at 3.30, the chances of making it would be slim indeed! But we have made it to Bath for a few- Joanna Naddin’s at Mr B’s for ‘The Queen of Bloody Everything’ and Tracy Darnton’s at Waterstones, Bath for ‘The Truth About Lies’, for example. We also caught up with the lovely Yuval Zommer when he was at Waterstone’s in Bath one Saturday afternoon.

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Many other things have happened too! One school in our group won two national awards- Highly Commended in the Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards 2018 and in the Flying High with Reading World Book Day competition. We’ve attended exhibitions, conferences and all manner of book related teaching things! There is just never enough time to do it all!

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What will 2019 bring?

National Poetry Day... and JAB South

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It’s National Poetry Day and at school, we celebrated in style! Year 6 each performed a poem which they had learnt by heart for the rest of their class- we only had two children who read the same poem so we were able to enjoy 29 poems during the morning.

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It was wonderful to see the confidence that children had in sharing their choice and the delight they had in hearing from others.

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We also had two assemblies- one for KS1 and one for KS2- at which teachers shared their favourite poems. The children loved this and we had poems from Michael Rosen, A A Milne, Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Coelho to name a few. Our lovely head teacher, deputy head, class teachers and support staff all read or performed poems and the atmosphere was lovely! We finished with me teaching the whole hall the opening of Wes Magee’s ‘Boneyard Rap’ before KS1 had their assembly of poetry!

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I also enjoyed sharing poems with my class from each of our shortlisted poetry books. It’s been just lovely!

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And then, after school, JAB South met to discuss all things book-ish and to eat plenty of Mars Bar Crispie Cake. It was such a lovely meeting. We started by talking about ‘Candy’ by Lavie Tidhar. This was much enjoyed by the group and will be reviewed soon, using comments from the group and their children and classes.

We were delighted to welcome new members tonight and discuss the shortlist and the awards…which are rapidly approaching! So exciting!

Happy National Poetry Day, everyone!