Making Connections Exhibition at Wokingham Library

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Look out for our new art exhibition, on display at Wokingham Library, which was created by pupils from St.Crispins, All Saints and Keephatch School, with the help of Artists from Jelly Arts.

The work is part of the Making Connections project which is funded by the Arts Council and Wokingham Borough Council. The project aims to engage children with the Library service through creative opportunities.

The residency was inspired by themes of transitioning, as the children involved were making the transition from primary school to secondary school. Over 4 days the children worked with 3 artists, experimenting with various techniques.

The artists

Jo Quinn is a printmaker/illustrator Jo’s etchings are inspired by the aesthetics of everyday objects – snapshots of unseen kitchen corners and eclectic interiors. Patterned papers are incorporated into the prints, adding a sense of vintage nostalgia to each picture, and making each one unique.

Katie Honan runs the drawing classes at jelly and loves drawing, she studied for her Masters at Wimbledon.

Julie Simmonds is a printmaker/painter, her work represents an on-going endeavour to explore and understand the nature of place, memory, the spontaneous mark, and the process by which an idea is translated from drawing to mind to paper. In aiming to capture the essence, or the sensation of place, I begin to convey a vision of the world around me.

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November’s Book of the Month

Each month we will choose two books that we would like to recommend for adults and young people. We would be interested to hear your views on the titles so please let us know your thoughts via Facebook or Twitter.

Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks 9780091936839

On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks, an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer, is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host, and antagonist, is Alexander Pereira, a man whose time is running out, but who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does. The search for sanity takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally – unforgettably – back into the trenches of the Western Front. This is a tragic account of love and war and the frailty of the human mind, it is a page turner and at the same time a story of great depth and emotion. Highly recommended.

The boy who sailed the ocean in an armchair by Lara Williamson

9781409576327All Becket Rumsey wants is for his family to be whole again. But standing in his way are two things: 1) his dad a fish delivery man “The Codfather” seems to have run away from home in the middle of the night and 2) Becket’s mum died before he got the chance to say goodbye to her.

Arming himself with an armchair of stories, a snail named Brian and 1000 paper cranes, Becket ploughs on, determined to make his wish come true.  Lara Williamson writes books that are poignant and heart-warming but also humourous.  Well worth a read.

To borrow these books, check out our catalogue to see if it’s in a library near you:

October’s Teen Book Group

There’s something spooky happening tomorrow in the teen area at Wokingham Library.

Spooky Books

The teens will be writing chilling tales, playing terrifying games and discussing spooky stories, which they can take home with them… if they dare!  If you’re aged between 11 and 18, come join in the fun.  Thursday 29th October at 4:30 – 5:30pm.  50p per person, refreshments will be provided.  Bring a friend.

The Teen Book Group meet once every three weeks, where they discuss books, play games and share recommendations.  There are always books to borrow.

There is also Igniting Writing, a teen writing group, which meets every Saturday 10:30am-12noon at Wokingham Library.  For more information call Wokingham Library on 0118 9781368.

Wokingham Borough Libraries E- Services for Ancestry – Family History Website

Research your family history online using our free e-resource Ancestry, at Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley libraries.

The website gives you access to:

  • Census Returns
  • Voter Lists
  • Birth, Marriage and Death Records
  • Military Records
  • City and County Directories
  • and much, much more!

Just drop into Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley libraries offer onsite access to the Ancestry (Family History) website, to help you trace your family tree. You must be at the library to access this website.

A Thank You to our Storytime Volunteer at Spencers Wood Library

2015-10-19 16.21.46-1Margaret Stead is Wokingham Libraries longest serving Storytime volunteer and has been reading stories to children at Spencers Wood Library every Monday since October 2004.                                                                                                                        Margaret has been a tremendous help to the library staff,  is always cheerful and is well known for her wonderfully theatrical delivery of all the stories.    20151019_162129 (2)                                                                                                                          Margaret’s last storytime was on Monday October 19 and we were pleased to present her with a bouquet of flowers and thank you cards in front of some of the children and their parents. She will be sorely missed!



We have lots of fantastic volunteers who help deliver storytime and rhymetimes in Wokingham Borough Libraries.  We currently have vacancies at Winnersh, Spencers Wood, Maiden Erlegh and Lower Earley libraries.

If you would like more information about volunteering to help with these activities please contact: Kate Mitchell, Volunteer Service Coordinator, Wokingham Library on 0118 9746263 or email


Whats on in Wokingham Borough Libraries for Children and Families in October Half-term Saturday October 24 to Saturday October 31, 2015

All Libraries will have Big Draw walls to decorate, this year’s theme ‘Every drawing tells a story” So just drop in and create something amazing!

maasai storytellingMaasai Warrior Storytelling Come and hear some traditional animal stories from Boniface Mpario, a Maasai Warrior. Free session for families. Please call to book a place. Wokingham Library Saturday October 24, 10am to 10.30am

Saturday Storytime Stories and rhymes for parents and children to enjoy together. Just drop in!  Woodley Library Saturday October 24, 11am to 11.30am

Teen Writing Group Come join us! Get writing, get ideas, Make new friend and Have fun with writing. For teens aged 11 to 18 years old.  Wokingham Library Saturday October 24, 10.30am to 12noon

Flash Fiction once upon a timeFlash fiction is a complete short story expressed within a strictly limited word count. In this workshop we will attempt to write a story in no more than 500 words. Taking a story from the What If idea then constructing a beginning, middle and an end within the word count limit. For ages 8 to 12 years old.  Wokingham Library Monday October 26, 10am to 11am

aliceMad hats and Alice Hear Alice’s story and create your own Alice in Wonderland themed head band and pop up tea cup. £1.50 charge, Just drop in!  Spencers Wood Library Monday October 26,4pm to 5pm

Mad hats and Alice Hear Alice’s story and create your own Alice in Wonderland themed head band and pop up tea cup. £1.50 charge, Just drop in! Tuesday October 27 at Wokingham Library, 10.30am to 11.30am and Finchampstead Library, 2.15pm to 3.15pm

Mad hats and Alice Hear Alice’s story and create your own Alice in Wonderland themed head band and pop up tea cup. £1.50 charge, Just drop in!  Woodley Library Wednesday October 28, 10.30am to 11.30am

Mad hats and Alice Hear Alice’s story and create your own Alice in Wonderland themed head band and pop up tea cup. £1.50 charge, Just drop in! Lower Earley Library Thursday October 29,  2.30pm to 3.30pm

Doctor Who Free session with Explore Learning, for children aged 8 to 11 years old.  Wokingham Library Thursday October 29,11am to 12noon

Winnie the Witch Free session with Explore Learning, for children aged 5 to 7 years old.  Wokingham Library Thursday October 29, 9.45am to 10.45am

11953160_983249791725719_7026768675504607831_nMini Animal Models Come and create some plasticine animals in this fun modelling session for children aged 8 and over. £2 charge. Places must be booked.  Wokingham Library  Thursday October 29, 2pm to 3pm

Get Arty Spooky themed crafts and colouring. For children aged 12 and under. Just drop in! Maiden Erlegh Library  Friday October 30, 2.30pm to 3.30pm

Contact your local library or for more events available in other libraries visit:

Igniting Writing – Teen Writing Group Summer Competition

Igniting Writing, Wokingham Library’s creative writing group for teenagers, has had a great deal of success during the term-time – we’ve been getting attendances in the double figures, have attracted several prestigious guest speakers to come in and talk to the teens and even been provided with a dedicated area in the library to hold our sessions. But as the group is term-time only, there was always the risk that over the summer months, when sessions weren’t on, we could lose some of the momentum the group has built up, which would have been a real shame.

That’s why we set up the Igniting Writing Summer Contest! The idea was to give the teens the chance to put what they’d learned and experienced over the course of the weekly sessions into practice, whilst simultaneously giving them the chance to keep their writing skills sharp over the summer break. The teens seemed enthusiastic about the idea when it was presented to them and they even got to pick the theme for the contest. After some deliberation they settled on the choice of ‘Beginnings’, which is rather fitting, since it’s the first contest the group has ever run!

With the theme chosen and the ground rules laid out (sticking to the ‘Beginnings’ theme, a word limit of 2,000 words and a prize of chocolate and a Waterstones gift voucher being the most crucial ones!), all that remained was to wait for the submissions. It was impossible to predict beforehand how much interest the contest would generate, but the teens responded to the call magnificently and over the course of the summer we had four group members submit some really high-quality stories.

Congratulations to all the teens who entered – every single submission had plenty of positives Perhaps most striking was how different everyone’s stories were – the genres ranged from sci-fi to children’s stories, showcasing the impressive range that our group are capable of.

It was extremely tough to pick a winner, but after a great deal of thought Rachel Newman’s short story about a teddy bear’s touching backstory was selected as the best of the best!

We’re already beginning preparations for the summer 2016 contest, so hopefully it will prove just as successful. With a new theme, new members and new ideas, next summer’s Igniting Writing contest is sure to be just as big a hit!

Teen writing Group – Igniting Writing meets every Saturday, 10.30am to 12noon at Wokingham Library, during term-time. For more information call Wokingham Library on 0118 978 1368

Poetry competitions: how to enter them & how to judge them by Claire Dyer

Poetry competitions: how to enter them & how to judge themuntitled

I was recently asked to judge Wokingham Library’s Poetry Competition for National Poetry Day and soon discovered that being asked to judge a poetry competition is a two-edged sword.

What is marvellous about it is being lucky enough to read the entries, to have an insight into the innermost thoughts of the poets, whether these be pleas for forgiveness, celebrations of joy or declarations of love. What isn’t so marvellous is having to decide which poems to pick as my winners! It is a very difficult task.

Even though the competition had a single subject which was ‘Light’ to coincide with today’s National Poetry Day theme, the interpretations of ‘Light’ were countless. We had poems about the Big Bang, about rainbows, stars, shipwrecks, trains and religion, as well as poems with a social or political conscience sitting alongside poems about vampires and mythical creatures.

The poems were at times funny and tragic; they explored the many shades of love and loss and were firmly set in definite places and times with poems about Wokingham rubbing shoulders with poems about New York!

What I noticed in reading through the entries is the popularity of rhyme schemes. Many of the poems not only rhymed but they carried with them an inherent sense of music and rhythm. They covered all the five senses and created wonderful soundscapes. But one overriding thought I had when reading them was their sincerity. These poets really meant what they were writing about.

There were longer poems and shorter poems, there was an incomplete villanelle and an acrostic poem as well as a couple that reminded me of Pam Ayres.

What I also noticed however is that a poet’s inattention to correct punctuation could make me swerve off course when I was reading. Punctuation in poetry is as important as word choice or line length; it is the scaffolding which holds a poem together. I would also say that for me at least an effective poem is one that journeys down the page; it starts with an idea and takes the poet and reader to a new understanding of something which they may have previously taken for granted or just not thought about. So I particularly like poems which do this. I also like poems that tell stories, not in a ‘once upon a time’ sort of way but which have a kind of narrative.

Finally, when asked to judge a competition whilst I take into account the care the poet has taken with their choice of words and the form of their poem, in the end it comes down to a matter of personal taste, so another judge on another  day may have chosen completely different poems!

So, to my winners:

In third place I chose ‘My Star Light’ by Jo Wyles

This is a deceptively simple poem; it has a regular rhyme scheme and doesn’t use long or complicated words but what pleased me particularly about it is its generosity. It is a joyous, perennial poem which talks of a parent’s love for their son, although it could equally be for a daughter (the line would still scan OK). It is a poem which flings its arms wide and says, ‘This is me. Here I am. I do what it says on the tin and I will stay in your heart forever.’

In second place I chose ‘Lighting Up’ by Jules Whiting

This sonnet is very carefully crafted and ends with a rhyming couplet. I like its movement, from the consideration of a TV screen’s light to the ‘glassy blue’ of morning, which is what the poet wants to share with us. I like the end stop at the end of the first stanza and then the push on that ‘lip’ gives at the end of the second, especially the possible double meaning of lip. At first glance it could be a noun or a verb. Also, the movement in the poem seems to reflect the movement of the light, its inevitability. After all, dawn will always come. This is a very physical poem and I liked it very much.

And the first prize went to ‘Bright Light’ by Shelley Connor

I have chosen this one because it says so much in so few words. In my head I can see a street of houses, I can see garages and cars and trees and recycling boxes left out for the bin men. I can see streetlights and starlight and rooms with light pencilled in around drawn curtains. I can see a person watching their neighbour who may be grieving for someone, or avoiding someone or working to repair a motorbike for someone they love. There are so many stories here in just seven lines of poetry.  The poem is uncluttered by punctuation, the poet uses line breaks to propel and halt the reader at just the right places. The rhymes are subtle and the title works well too.

So, congratulations to all the winners and to all the entrants. It was a tough field, I enjoyed reading the poems very much indeed and it has taught me a great deal about what I should do when entering my poems into competitions. I SHOULD take care with my punctuation, I SHOULD let my poem journey down the page, I SHOULD allow room for some kind of narrative. At least if I do these things I may stand a chance of pleasing a judge who thinks along the same lines as I do!

The Winning Entries:

First Prize:  Bright Light by Shelley Connor

Bright Light

The bright light
from my neighbour’s garage
where he slaves over motorbikes
until late into the night
makes me wonder
if he is working through love
or lack of it.

Second Prize:  Lighting Up by Jules Whiting

Lighting up

 I keep seeing light, blue light, its flash

and flicker on the TV, pouring through

the movies, but mainly, it’s that early

morning glassy blue, that’s almost grey.

It creeps in at the window, bending gently

under the skirt of the curtain. Many times

I’ve sat and watched the heavy night give up

its strength, seen the milky blue lip

my chair, curl my body till I’m awash

with its softness. I try to reach out

to weave its lividity back – but its stain

slips through my fingers, steeps my clothes,

dapples my chest, my skin, wrapping tight,

till my breath is held, hard against the light.

Third Prize: My Star Light by Jo Wyles

My Star Light

You are the star that lights my life
the light that shines and gleams so bright
your laugh, your smile, your eyes that shimmer
my life, my light, my hopeful glimmer.

Your hopes and dreams fill the sky
they glisten and glow and we watch them fly
may you always shine and follow your heart
my son, my light, my work of art.

Children’s Short Story and Poetry Competition

As part of our Summer Reading Challenge – Record Breakers we challenged the children to come up with a short story or poem on the theme of Record Breakers. We received 26 entries, which can be seen on display at Wokingham Library.

We will be holding a Celebration event, to give out certificates to all of the children that entered and prizes to the winners of each age category Under 10’s and 11 to 16’s. This will happen on National Poetry Day Thursday October 8 at Wokingham Library.

The winners are, for the under 10’s:

1st Prize: Sohini Basu aged 8– with her poem – Record Breakers

2nd Prize: Omar Benjamin Floodgate aged 9 – with his short story The Spice King

Highly commended: Imogen Vick aged 7 – with her story – The Prettiest Farm

For the Under 16’s:

1st Prize: Hannah Wilson aged 11 with her story – Record Breaking Ryan

2nd Prize: Chloe German aged 11 – with her story – Youngest Sky diver ever

Highly commended: Bella Keene aged 11 with her poem – The World’s Biggest Liger

All of the entries are on display at Wokingham Library.

Children receiving their poetry certificates and prizes on National Poetry Day Thursday October 8, 2015 at Wokingham Library
Children receiving their poetry certificates and prizes on National Poetry Day Thursday October 8, 2015 at Wokingham Library


Teen Reading Challenge Prize Draw Winners

Wokingham Borough Libraries Teen Reading Challenge ran over the summer.  Teenagers were challenged to read any 6 library books. All 135 entries were put into a prize draw and the winners are..

1st Prize: Robert Hook aged 13 who received a Kobo e-reader and a book filled goody bag                                     Runner up: Nianqi Sun aged 17 who received a book filled goody bag                                                                     Runner up: Charlotte Gornall aged 14 who received a book filled goody bag

The top 5 most borrowed teen books this summer were:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins                                                                                                                         Divergent by Veronica Roth                                                                                                                                           Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman                                                                                                                                  Picture Perfect by Holly Smale                                                                                                                                   Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz

We also run some creative clubs for Teens at Wokingham Library.  The teen writing group meets every Saturday 10.30am to 12noon and the teen book group meets on Thursday October 8 and 29, 4.30pm to 5.30pm. Just drop in.