to My Home Library
Books in Braille
Feelie Braille Bookmarks
Tips and Tricks
to the Home Library!
Here's a message from Anne Fine, the Children's Laureate, who planned it all:
There have never been so many lovely, different books around, both new and second-hand, and everyone needs books. The more you read, the richer you are inside.
So it's time to start building your own Home Library. We'll tell you all about our Books in Braille Project and the 5000 "feelie" braille bookmarks we're giving away. We'll post reviews of books (and, very soon, talking books) you'll enjoy, where to find them, how you can make them mine, mine, mine! with any one of our dozens of lovely new bookplates, and how to turn your bedroom into an Aladdin's cave of places and people and stories and wonder. Also, we've introduced a Tips and Tricks page.
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in Braille and "Feelie" Braille Bookmarks
Anne Fine gives the background . . .
I wanted to be
certain that everyone could build up a home library, not just those people who
can slope off to a bookshop at any old time. I am a patron of Calibre and I
know how difficult it is if youre blind or seriously visually impaired
even to browse through possible choices of reading and we all know how
much Braille books cost.
Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, J K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson know this too. We all agreed to chip in so that 2,400 of the picture books that are most popular with younger blind and visually impaired children could be brailled and passed on for free. The St Jamess Place Foundation made a donation to the project too.
ClearVision, a postal lending library of Braille/print childrens books, selected 12 well-loved stories for younger blind and visually impaired readers. Prisoners at HM Prison Gartree brailled the books and re-bound them with the transparent plastic Braille pages inside. The Inside Out Trust organised it all.
The titles are:
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (Puffin paperback, £3.99)
Peace at Last! by Jill Murphy (Macmillan, £3.99)
The tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr (Picture Lions, HarperCollins, £3.99)
Eat up, Gemma by Sarah Hayes, illustrated by Jan Ormerod (Walker Books, £3.99)
Alfie gets in first by Shirley Hughes (Red Fox, Random House, £3.99)
The Little Red Hen by Michael Foreman (Red Fox, Random House, £3.99)
Six Dinner Sid by Inga Moore (Hodder Childrens Books, £4.99)
Pass the jam, Jim by Margaret Chamberlain, illustrated by Kaye Umansky (Red Fox, Random House, £3.99)
The Book of Riddlesby by Bennet Cerf, illustrated by Roy McKie (Picture Lions, Harper Collins, £4.99)
Days Like This by Simon Jenkins (Walker Books, £5.99)
Mrs Goat and her Seven Little Kids by Tony Ross (Red Fox, £9.95) NB limited stock
Greyfriars Bobby by Ruth Brown (Red Fox, Random House, £3.99)
To find out more, e-mail .
feelie Braille bookmarks, too!
Not everyone reads a book all in one go I know I dont. I thought that for the Home Library project you ought to have something a little bit more special than an old bus ticket or a chocolate wrapper to keep your place.
We came up with the idea of bookplates in special shapes, each with a different texture and a little message in Braille. Prisoners at Her Majestys Prison Long Lartin are making 5,000 feelie bookmarks. Once again, ClearVision did all this with the help of The Inside Out Trust.
The bookmarks will be distributed by various organisations which supply books in braille or large print to visually-impaired children. For further information contact ClearVision at email@example.com.
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What's so delicious about charity shops and second hand book stalls is the gems you find. Some authors' books show up a lot. Some authors' books are rarer than hen's teeth. And some authors show up just enough to make it worth while to drop in every Saturday. Best of all, many of the bigger charity book shops - Oxfam for example - now have a good range of taped books.
So here's some lovely books I've found going practically begging. I'm putting them into three groups: young, older and even older. But if you find one that happens to be for the wrong age-group for you, don't let it slip out of your grasp. Get it anyway. With one of our fabulous bookplates in the front, it'll make a wonderful present for somebody younger. And if it's for someone older, you hang on to it. One day you'll want to read it. Believe me!
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Reviews for Younger Readers
If you ever find any Ant and Bee books by Angela Banner, pounce on them. Everyone adores them.
Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline books are tremendous favourites.
Anything written or illustrated by Shirley Hughes is madly popular with young people. Especially Dogger, and all the Lucy and Tom stories, Chips and Jessie, Alfie Gets in First.
If you find anything by someone called Arnold Lobel, pounce on that. All the books with Frog and Toad in the title are especial favourites, and there's a small masterpiece called Owl at Home that no one should miss.
Everyone loves John Burningham's picture books, specially for Mr Gumpy's Outing, and Come away from the water, Shirley. While we're on wonderful picture books, keep the name Helen Oxenbury in mind. You'll be lucky to find anything of hers, but if you do, snap it up at once.
all those weirdly wonderful Dr Seuss books? If you find Hop on Pop, or The Cat
in the Hat, or any of the ones you loved, buy them for someone else or to spoil
youself when you feel like an easy read.
Russell Hoban wrote several books that starred Frances the little badger. Bread and Jam for Frances, Bedtime for Frances and others. If you find these, don't let them escape. Someone you know will adore them.
If you find any Little Bear books, by Minarik, you'll be lucky. They were my own children's absolute favourites when they were learning to read.
No one should live in a house without at least three collections of Nursery Rhymes. And everyone needs the Fairy Tales. You can have lots of them in one big book, or find all of them separately. Sometimes you like the way the story's told better by one writer than by another. See what you think and keep browsing! Sooner or later you'll find the perfect version. And if Trina Schart Hyman illustrated it, hang on to it for ever.
Margaret Mahy wrote some fabulous picture books. Especially The Witch in the Cherry Tree.
Anyone you know like football? Search for Stanley Bagshaw books by Bob Wilson.
Lots of people love a lot of the old Ladybird Books. And while we're on old-fashioned reads, even if you don't fancy them, there will be people out there pouncing on Enid Blyton's Noddy books. And her Amelia Jane books. So don't let anyone put you off by saying that they're old-fashioned. If you like them, enjoy them.
And, while you're trying to find this lot, if you find anything else you fancy, get it. After all, if you hate it, you can always bring it back to the charity shop the next time you visit.
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Reviews for Older Readers
What do you want in a pile of books? If you're between seven and eleven, probably just about anything. Sometimes I found my children reading really quite difficult and demanding novels. Sometimes they were stuck into a tattered old Beano. So here's a list of things you'll often find lying about second hand that'll suit you in one mood or another.
Never pass up the chance of a Beano Annual. (You can fall upon the Dandy and Rupert annuals as well, and any of the others, but we all know the Beano is King.)
If you find a copy of Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, by Catherine Storr, buy it and read it one last time before passing it on to someone younger.
My children always loved How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, though I could never quite bring myself to read it.
If you ever find a copy of Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein, snatch it up. And I'd buy anything by her, even if I had to keep it to read when I was older.
I can't move on
to the slightly older books without admitting that Enid Blyton was my favourite
writer for years and years (until I discovered Jennings books). I loved the
Island of Adventure and the Circus of Adventure, and all the Famous Five books.
(I could never be doing with the Secret Seven.) But my very favourite of her
books was called The Boy Next Door. (I even married someone called Kit, like
the hero, which shows you how powerful fiction can be.)
You must have heard the William tapes, read by Martin Jarvis. Well, don't forget there are dozens of William books, all brilliant. (I mean that. My favourites are William's Crowded Hours, and William the Outlaw, but they're all brilliant.) They're by Richmal Crompton. You find them with all sorts of covers. Don't miss them.
While we're on
books where you can collect the whole set, don't forget Anthony Buckeridge's
terrific Jennings books: Jennings goes to School. Jennings and Derbyshire, etc.
If you ever secretly wanted to go to Hogwart's Academy, try Jenning's boarding
school for size. (And you'll still see plenty of Frank Richards' Bunter books
lying around in second hand shops. They're boarding school stories too.)
Do you like ghost stories? Try Alison Prince's collections, especially The Ghost Within, if you can find it.
If you like Harry Potter, you're going to love Similon by Kathryn Cave.
Don't miss the Bagthorpe Saga, by Helen Cresswell. The Bagthorpes are a completely batty family. Start with Ordinary Jack, and Absolute Zero (he's their dog), and after that every book about them has Bagthorpe in the title. They are my eldest child's favourite books ever.
One of my passions as a child was Willard Price's Adventure series: Gorilla Adventure, South Sea Adventure, African Adventure, and so on. You'll still find loads lying around in charity shops and jumble sale boxes, and as long as you bear in mind how old they are (the copyright date is in the tiny writing on the front page - do the maths), you'll probably enjoy them.
No house should
be without a copy of Charlotte's Web by E B White.
Robert C O'Brien wrote a book called Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It's wonderful. And I find it around often.
You have probably heard of Noel Streatfeild. Curtain Up, White Boots, Party Frock, The Circus is Coming, and several more. Especially if you like books about performances, don't miss out on these.
Some people just assume they won't like historical novels. But do have a go. It's hard to choose between Henry Treece (try Legions of the Eagle, Viking's Dawn and Viking's Sunset), Geoffrey Trease (try Cue for Treason) and Rosemary Sutcliffe (The Eagle of the Ninth, The Witch's Brat). All three write terrific, nail-biting tales.
Most second hand bookshops get the odd battered paperback by Roger Lancelyn Green. Look for Adventures of Robin Hood, Luck of Troy and Myths of the Norsemen.
And when you've finished all that lot, you'll be ready for almost anything. So look at my list of good reads for even older readers you're bound to find second-hand, before you leave us and vanish into teenage and adult reading.
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Reviews for Even Older Readers
At the moment, everyone's arguing about what makes a children's book. I think a children's book is one you'd most love to come across for the first time before you're fourteen. Simple as that. So make sure that you haven't missed a single one of these before your fourteenth birthday. And if you're a good reader, have a go at them sooner.
I'm assuming you've
read Joan Aiken's Black Hearts in Battersea and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
already, but if you haven't, this is about your last chance. And that's true
for Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child.
Have a few old-fashioned flashbacks. These are "the classics", coming up. First, you could read everything by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Start with The Secret Garden if you haven't read it already. Little Lord Fauntleroy is my favourite. And A Little Princess is really good. (Unusually, so is the film.)
E Nesbit is the writer I most wish I hadn't missed in childhood. (I don't know quite HOW I missed her, but I did.) The Railway Children is obviously the most famous. But do have a go at the others: Five Children and It. The Phoenix and the Carpet. The Treasure Seekers.
It would be shame
to miss The Borrowers by Mary Norton.
My favourite children's writer is T H White. He wrote The Once and Future King, which is the story of Arthur, and Mistress Masham's Repose. Both these books are back in paperback after years of shameful neglect, but during those years I found plenty of copies in second hand bookshops, and if you find any of them, buy them at once. I promise you won't be sorry.
If you haven't read The Silver Sword, by Ian Serraillier, then you've missed one of the finest children's books of the 20th century. It's such a classic there are plenty of copies around.
I doubt if you'll be lucky enough to find a copy of The Hunted, by Peter Carter. But I think it's one of the finest novels about wartime that I've ever read. (If you find one, I'll buy it off you if you don't want to keep it.) I feel the same way about Maurice Gee's The Fat Man. A brilliant book, but one that wasn't even published in Britain, even though it won prize after prize in Australia. If you see a copy of that, I'll take that, too.
If you haven't read Susan Price, you're in for a treat. But you won't find her second hand much yet. Try Head and Tails. Same with Hilary MacKay She has a series of comedies called The Exiles, The Exiles at Home, etc. But I doubt if anyone's giving them away yet.
But you will find Madeleine L'Engle books, and they are certainly worth taking home. Start with A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Wrinkle in Time, etc.
And don't miss the Susan Cooper books that you'll find everywhere. Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark is Rising. and more.
is always worth a read. Any title. And so is Jan Mark, if you can find her books.
William Mayne and Peter Dickinson have tremendous fan clubs and people who just
don't get them. You could stand there and have a bit of a read to see which
camp you fall in.
You should have read Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy ages ago. But if you missed it, still just time to enjoy it a lot. Am I allowed to mention myself? The book that gets stolen most often during visits to schools is my Crummy Mummy and Me, but anything you find of mine you should pick up at once. Someone you know will want it.
Some books just
never seem to be in second hand shops. Probably no point seeking out The Great
Elephant Chase by Gillian Cross. Or Aquila, by Andrew Norris. Or Harry and the
Wrinklies, by Alan Temperley. Or anything by Geraldine McCaughrean. But you
may well find J R R Tolkien's The Hobbit, or The Lord of the Rings. Don't miss
I hardly ever find a Terry Pratchett novel second hand. But, when I do, I buy it.
You will find Jill Paton Walsh, and Nina Bawden and Robert Westall. And they're all writers not to miss.
I haven't finished, you know. I will be back. But this is more than enough to keep you going. And if you've already read them all, you certainly don't need me. You're doing fine already.
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If you have ever had to move house, or if the adults in your life keep having fits of tidiness, you'll perhaps have been told to sort through your books and tapes and keep only the ones you know you'll read again. That's the way old favourites make their way to the charity shop - old favourites who need someone to read and love them.
Someone's old favourite can become someone else's new favourite. Yours, perhaps. So why not go to your local Oxfam shop and find out what is waiting for you there? If you're not sure where your nearest one is, click here for a shop search.
A bookplate is perfect for covering up someone else's name on the book - and then it's all yours for as long as you want it. The Book Reviews section above covers Anne Fine's second-hand favourites - books that she found waiting for a good home in charity shops. And she'd love to know about your great charity shop finds, so why not tell us by e-mailing . Just give us the details, along with your first name and age.
Tape recommendations coming up soon!
Find out about jumble sales in the area from local newspapers, magazines and posters. Go with a group of friends and an adult to see what book bargains you can find.
Organise a second-hand books sale at lunchtime but make sure you do this with the cooperation of a teacher.
Set up a "Home Library" noticeboard in your school it could be in your classroom or year group area or in the main entrance to the school head it up with a few lines about what Home Library is about and explain how all of you want to collect and read lots of books. That way, visitors to the school might donate a few gems!
Check out all the local charity shops with even a few second-hand books for sale. Visit each of them regularly and compare notes with friends which ones offer the best book bargains, and are friendly to young browsers like you? Award them marks out of ten you could even keep an updated chart on your school's "Home Library" noticeboard.
Look out for information about guide and scout jumble sales, car boot sales and so on. Go with a group of friends and take an adult with you to check out the book bargains.
If you are a cub or a brownie or a guide or a scout, perhaps you could ask your leader whether you could organise a book sale or "book swap."
Organise a Saturday morning get-together with all your friends. Each of you should go through your bookshelves beforehand to find old books you wont read again. Bring your bag of books and a contribution to refreshments (crisps, coke) to the house of the person whose mum will mind the least that youre "clogging" around the house. Have a "Home Library book swap" morning. Perhaps the long-suffering mum will mind less when she knows youre concentrating on books rather than videos!
Check out your relatives youll be amazed to discover that your grandparents and your aunts and uncles did learn to read as well, and they enjoyed their books too. They may have some treasures in the attic, or hidden away on a shelf or in a box somewhere. Ask them if you can look. And do ask if you may have them almost certainly theyll be delighted to let you!
Make friends with your local childrens librarian. Libraries often organise sales of books, which are still quite readable but not quite smart enough to lend out any more. Ask when and where the next book sale is likely to be and organise a group of friends to go along with you too. Take an adult too they hate to be left out of things.
There are more and more cut-price bookshops on the High Street selling new books at very low prices. Do a survey of great new book bargains and post this on the school "Home Library" noticeboard.
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When you go to a charity bookshop, if you cannot find the book or the author that you are looking for, do ask the bookshop staff. Many charity shops have boxes and boxes of books in the back of the shop that they havent put out on the shelves yet (usually because they have run out of space) but they may be happy to let you browse through a box or two, or to look through the boxes for you and show you a selection next time you are in. Dont forget, some bookshops are kinder than others you and your friends may like to run a survey on which ones are the nicest and post that on your schools "Home Library" notice board.
When you go to a normal High Street bookshop, remember that the staff there have access to computerised information about books and writers, so if you cannot find the book you want, do ask them to look it up for you. If you like, you can then order it.
Many online bookshops such as BOL and Amazon sell new books for much less than High Street bookshops. Do ask your parents before going online, but dont nag them about buying new books. Nobodys pockets are bottomless and parents have other bills to pay.
Often at jumble sales if you buy several books you can negotiate a lower price. Try it! Good luck.
The Home Library bookplates are great for covering up the name of a previous owner of a second-hand book suddenly its all yours!
If its raining outside and you cant think what to do, you can download your favourite bookplates from the Home Library website and stick them in all the books you havent yet put a bookplate in. If when youve done that theres still no one ready to take you book shopping or to the library, why not colour in some of the bookplates?
Keep a list of all the books in your Home Library (you could do this in a special book, or file or on the computer) with a very short 10 15 word summary and comment. It could come in very useful for a future homework project.
Try keeping a book on you for short bus or car journeys, (but remember, many people feel queasy if they read too long in a car or bus) train journeys and visits to the doctor or dentist. If the book is small it will fit into a jacket or jeans pocket larger ones, and youll have to take a rucksack! Poetry and short stories are particularly good choices for this sort of "reading on the move" because youre more likely to reach the end of something uninterrupted.
Make sure your next jacket has large pockets!
Enter the Home Library competitions and maybe youll win lots of free books!
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As this is a text-only page, we're unable to show the dozens of free bookplates donated by top children's book illustrators. They're located at www.myhomelibrary.org, a site we're in the process of making more acccessible to the blind and visually impaired.
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