The key role of the library and the School Librarian is to nurture and inspire a love of reading for pleasure.
Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise: “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s academic success, and National Literacy Trust research shows that children who enjoy reading are also three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than children who do not enjoy reading. According to Empathy Lab, scientific research shows that reading also builds empathy, challenges prejudice and builds connections between us all. Reading makes us wiser, happier and kinder. At Holy Cross Prep, we believe in the power of reading and the girls reflect this with passion and enthusiasm.
Some of the ways we encourage reading for pleasure, in addition to our weekly library sessions, include two popular weekly lunchtime book clubs: one for year 2, and one for years 4 and 5, during which we read and review new books and complete various creative activities.
Our ‘Book of the Week’ can be found at the bottom of this page, as well as on our Instagram and Facebook pages. These reviews and recommendations are also displayed in the library, complemented by the Year 5 Librarians’ own recommendations. Peer-to-peer suggestions are also always encouraged.
In year 6, pupils have the opportunity to participate in the annual Awesome Book Awards. The girls read and review five debut novels, vote for their favourite book, and attend a glittering awards ceremony during which the winner is announced.
Regular book events are organised by our Librarian, which include author visits and twice-yearly book fairs. We have enjoyed talks by a host of children’s authors, including Cath Howe, Timothy Knapman, David Melling, and Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, acclaimed author of the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series. World Book Day is a highlight of the school’s calendar, with various activities planned to celebrate reading. Activities include a whole school assembly and costume parade, an interactive readathon, inter-class quiz competitions and ‘literary lunches’ in collaboration with our creative catering team.
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips, illustrated by Isabelle Follath
A hilariously macabre story about a nasty, self-centred man, called Ebenezer Tweezer, who adopts a badly-behaved orphan in order to feed her to the Beast that lives in his attic. But neither the Beast, nor Ebenezer is fully prepared for The Bethany! It sounds horrifying but this is also a charming, beautifully illustrated story, full of heart and humour.
Book of the Week Archive
The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook
When Chaya breaks into the palace and steals the Queen’s jewels, she has no idea that her actions will lead to a prison break, political unrest and a madcap escape through the jungle with her friends, on the back of the King’s elephant, Ananda. The book is set in the kingdom of Serendib, inspired by the author’s home country of Sri Lanka, and the lush vegetation and dense jungle are beautifully evoked. This is a fun, fast-paced adventure with a feisty protagonist.
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
11-year-old Addie is autistic, and when she learns about her town’s history of witch trials, she is determined to find a way of commemorating the women who died. Can she find a way to speak up for the women and for herself in the process? A wonderfully moving and inspiring story about kindness and tolerance. Highly recommended.
Shoe Wars by Liz Pichon
A brand-new story from the creator of Tom Gates. Ruby and Bear Foot live in Shoe Town with their Dad. When his evil boss, Wendy Wedge, catches wind of his amazing flying shoes, she is determined to steal the shoes and win the Golden Shoe Award. Can Bear and Ruby rescue their Dad and foil Wendy’s plans? Shoe Wars is a madcap, page-turning, adventure-filled tale, with plenty of hilarious shoe puns.
Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival
Meesha is excellent at making things, but she finds it hard to make friends. Instead, she creates her own friends out of paper, paints and glue, and her made-up friends finally help Meesha to make some real friends. An uplifting, beautifully-illustrated story that will inspire children to be kind and inclusive.
Look Up by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola
Rocket wants to be an astronaut star-catcher space-traveller when she grows up, but in the meantime she spends all her time looking up at the stars. Will she be able to get everyone else to look up in time to see the Phoenix Meteor Shower? A charming, engaging story about family, wonder and appreciating the world around you.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski
Twelve-year-old Flick Hudson has always longed to travel the world, but she’s never been anywhere, until she stumbles across the Strangeworlds Travel Agency and discovers a whole shop full of suitcases leading to other worlds. This is a wonderfully imagined, delightfully magical book, perfect for fans of the ‘Nevermoor’ and ‘Pages and Co.’ series.
Llama Glamarama by Simon James Green and Gary Parsons
While the other llamas are sleeping, Larry loves to put on his disco clothes and dance the night away, but he is worried the other llamas will disapprove. When Larry finally opens up to his friends about his passion, he finds out that he is not the only one with a secret. A toe-tapping, razzle-dazzle read about being proud of who you are – even if you’re a disco-crazy llama!
Health Heroes – The People Who Took Care of the World by Emily Sharratt
Filled with fascinating facts and inspiring true stories, ‘Health Heroes’ explores the lives of those who put themselves on the front line to take care of people throughout history, as well as recognising some local unsung heroes from recent times. We are very proud of one of our Holy Cross dads, Dr Sekeram, who also features in the book… ‘This book has lots of fun facts and true stories of healthcare workers to inspire a young generation. It’s an honour to feature in one of the stories. Part of the sale of the book is donated to NHS Charities Together. My daughter Maya loved this book.’
The Castle of Tangled Magic written by Sophie Anderson and illustrated by Saara Soderlund
Olia lives in an old castle full of secret ways and fantastical domes. She’s sure there is magic in the castle and can’t wait to share it with her baby sister. But one day there is a terrible storm and the castle is damaged. Olia follows a magical guide through the castle’s domes to a land beyond, where a host of magical creatures have been trapped by a cruel wizard. ‘The Castle of Tangled Magic’ is a spellbinding, heart-warming story about friendship, family and growing up.
Moon Juice by Kate Wakeling
Did you know that Bad Moods wear weird shoes? Are you aware that tiny cacti grow behind children’s ears, and that there’s a dinosaur under the shed? This week the girls were inspired by a wonderfully engaging digital visit from Kate Wakeling. To celebrate National Poetry Day. Kate read from her fantastic book, ‘Moon Juice’, answered questions from the girls about what it’s like to be a poet, and then set an exciting poetry challenge.
Free by Samuel Usher
One morning, a boy wakes up to find a poorly bird on his windowsill… the bird recovers but then it doesn’t want to leave. The boy and his grandad must help the bird find his way home. ‘Free’ is a sunny and poignant story, and Sam Usher’s cheerful illustrations are full of enticing details, but the high point is an exuberant image of a tree cloaked in a multitude of vividly coloured birds, all singing together.
The Vanishing Trick written by Jenni Spangler and illustrated by Chris Mould
When destitute orphan, Leander, meets the mysterious Madame Pinchbeck, she seems kind and trustworthy. But by the time he meets the other two children under her ‘care’, it is too late and he is as trapped as they are. The resourceful children must work together to foil her nefarious plans and find a way to escape. ‘The Vanishing Trick’ has a definite ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ feel, and Madame Pinchbeck is a dastardly villain worthy of comparison with Count Olaf. A deliciously dark and sinister tale set in Victorian England.
The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike
Rayne is an apprentice spell breather, although she’d much rather be outside playing with her friends. But when her town succumbs to a terrifying monster plague, Rayne is the only one who can fix it. An enchanting adventure with spells, talking foxes and the magical power of words.
The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
Everyone has always told Aleja that girls can’t be explorers, until the day a mysterious ship, crewed by women, sails into Seville harbour and carries her away to adventure. ‘The Ship of Shadows’ is a lovely story of friendship, courage and empowerment!
My Name is River by Emma Rea
A gripping story of friendship and courage, saturated in the sights, scents and sounds of the rainforest, with a vitally important message about environmental conservation. Highly recommended, especially for fans of ‘Journey to the River Sea’ by Eva Ibbotson.
The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
A page-turning, stone-age adventure, but also a wonderful tribute to the lingering magic found in all wild places!
Boy Under Water by Adam Baron
A heartfelt story about families, friendship and finding out the truth. It was also the winner of the 2020 Awesome Book Awards.
Can You See Me? by Rebecca Westcott
A a thoughtful, informative and moving book, including real diary excerpts written by 11-year-old Libby Scott about her own experience of autism. You can find more empathetic reads on the Empathy Lab website.
Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell
While investigating some mysterious exploding garden gnomes, Arthur, Ren and Cecily are sucked through a portal to another planet, 400 years in the future, and find themselves in an in-reality adventure game featuring famous historical characters. But behind the entertaining façade of the game, there is something sinister going on—can they solve the mystery of the missing founder and help the others trapped in the game before time runs out? Wonderscape is a thrilling world of imagination and possibility, perfect for fans of Anna James’ Pages and Co. series and Jumanji.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy By necessity, we spend much of our day reading on a screen but there is much pleasure to be found in paging through a beautiful book. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a visual feast the whole family can enjoy – an exquisitely illustrated book, filled with thoughtful and lyrical meditations on friendship, kindness, courage and resilience.
Artwork by Charlie Mackesy
Juniors: Charlie Changes into a Chicken by Sam Copeland This is an extremely funny and extremely silly story about a boy who turns into all kinds of animals (except a chicken) when he feels worried. It is charmingly illustrated by Sarah Horne and despite the slapstick style, it also contains a heartfelt message about coping with anxiety.
Pre-prep: Ruby’s Worry
by Tom Percival
For pre-prep readers I would recommend Ruby’s Worry, a lovely story that communicates the value of talking about your feelings.
The Dragon Machine
by Helen Ward & Wayne Anderson
Once George has seen his first dragon, he begins to notice them everywhere, and he realises that the dragons need to go home before they are captured. He invents a magnificent mechanical flying machine, to lead the dragons back to the wilderness where they belong. The Dragon Machine is a beautifully illustrated adventure with plenty of entertaining moments and a wealth of little dragons waiting to be discovered on each page.
Aru Shah and the End of Time
by Roshani Chokshi
When 12 year old Aru Shah lights an ancient lamp for a dare, she unleashes the Sleeper and sets in motion a chain of events that could destroy the world. Together with her new friend Mini and a disgruntled pigeon called Boo, Aru must search for the Pandava brothers and find a way to stop the Sleeper from waking the God of Destruction. A funny, fast-paced adventure story based on Hindu mythology, perfect for fans of Rick Riordan.
Agents of the Wild:
by Jennifer Bell & Alice Lickens
Agnes Gamble is a wildlife whizzkid who is recruited to be a field agent by a top secret organization called SPEARS – The Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species. Her first assignment is an expedition to the Atlantic Forest in South America to rescue a rare bee. Operation Honeyhunt brilliantly combines a funny, fast-paced story with a wealth of fascinating facts about animals and an important message about conservation.
by Elaine Wickson
5 year old Fred is devastated when he finds out that the T-Rex skeleton, Rory, is being removed from the local museum to make way for a new environmental awareness exhibit and his eleven year old brother, Stan, is drafted in to help save Rory. This hilarious and heartfelt story is told through various pie charts, bar graphs and other diagrams and is perfect for fans of Tom Gates and The Wimpy Kid.
by Vashti Hardy
Prue Haywood takes her brother’s name in order to become an apprentice of the Ghost Guild of Medlock, where she will learn how to bring machines to life by harnessing ghosts. WildSpark is a thrilling, sci-fi adventure set in an innovative world of ghosts and robots, with an inspiring theme of girls in STEM.
Our Castle by the Sea
by Lucy Strange
Twelve year old Petra lives in a lighthouse on the south coast of England but when war breaks out her mother is accused of being of spy and her family is torn apart. Petra must learn to be brave and try to clear her mother’s name. An atmospheric story of mystery, intrigue and resilience, set during World War II.
The Girl Who Speaks Bear
by Sophie Anderson
Yanka was found in a bear cave as a child and has always been taller and stronger than all the other children. After an accident leaves Yanka changed, she goes in search of the bear who raised her to find answers about who she is. This is an enchanting, lyrical adventure full of wonderful characters, stories, and a heartfelt message about friendship and family.
A Boy Called Christmas
by Matt Haig
A Boy Called Christmas is story of the boy who grew up to become Father Christmas. This is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, a truth pixie and an eleven year old boy called Nikolas, who is not afraid to believe in magic – a funny, magical and festive story.
by Victoria Jamieson
Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby summer camp, she is sure Nicole will join her – but Nicole signs up for ballet camp instead. A funny and empowering graphic novel about friendship, bravery and resilience.
Somebody Swallowed Stanley
by Sarah Roberts
Stanley is a plastic bag but underwater he looks like a shimmering jellyfish – he does not mean to hurt anyone, but he does not belong in the sea. Eventually, Stanley is rescued and put to use where he will no longer be a danger to unwary sea creatures. Somebody Swallowed Stanley is a beautifully illustrated book with an important message – highly recommended for all ages.
Jemima Small Versus the Universe
by Tamsin Winter
For Anti-Bullying week, Jemima Small Versus the Universe is a wonderfully funny and moving story that explores bullying, body confidence and learning to love yourself. It is written by the author of Being Miss Nobody (which won the 2019 Awesome Book Awards), and is suitable for years 5 and 6.
by Tom Percival
Ravi is the smallest in his family and he gets upset when he is not as quick and strong as his older siblings, but when Ravi gets angry and starts to roar he turns into a tiger. This lovely book about feelings, frustration and forgiveness is suitable for all ages and available in the library.
The Same Inside: Poems about Empathy and Friendship
by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens.
It was National Poetry Day yesterday and poetry is a wonderful vehicle to express emotion and create empathy. The Same Inside is a collection of fifty thoughtful and sensitive poems dealing with friendship, empathy and respect. It is suitable for the juniors and available in the library.
Meet the Penguins
by Mike Brownlow
Meet the Penguins is the charming tale of two penguins who want someone to play with but Elephant has big things to do, Fox is in the middle of something and Hippo is worried the penguins might make a mess.
This is a lovely story about friendship, kindness and inclusivity, it is available in the library and is suitable for Pre-Prep.
Not My Fault
by Cath Howe
Maya and Rose are sisters. The story is told from both Rose and Maya’s perspectives and beautifully illustrates the ways that siblings can know each other so well but also completely misunderstand each other. Cath Howe will be visiting the juniors in October to share her expertise and inspire the girls in their creative writing. Not My Fault is available in the library and as an ebook on Sora. It is suitable for years 3 – 6.