A brilliant half term

Maida Vale Library hosted several lively craft sessions during the half term week last week. All week we had a hunt for children’s book characters which were hidden all over the library.

Half term mask making at Maida Vale Library, February 2017

On Monday we had two sessions of mask making with some lovely animal masks.

Half term mask making at Maida Vale Library, February 2017

On Wednesday it was time for Rubbish Robots which was very popular at both sessions with some fantastic results.

Half term crafts at Maida Vale Library, February 2017   Half term crafts at Maida Vale Library, February 2017

On Thursday the children made their own Snakes and Ladders games and also we had a session with the badge making machine.

A good time was had by all!


Paddington Book Festival and Silver Sunday

Paddington LibraryIt’s been a busy couple of months at Paddington Library! No sooner had the flurry of children’s activities for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge come to an end than it was time for all the many and varied regular events to build up again. But that was not all – there was the Paddington Book Festival to come, followed closely by Silver Sunday.

The Paddington Book Festival is an annual festival which has been has been running for several years. Instigated and supported by a local Westminster Councillor, it is a series of book and reading-related events in September with the aim of engaging the local community in cultural and literary activity. Events do not take place solely in Paddington Library, however – they are spread across four libraries in the north of the Borough.

Queens Park Library hosted Kiera Cohen who introduced her début children’s book Tilly McAnilly and the Rock Pool Adventure. Maida Vale Library hosted a splendiferous party to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Roald Dahl. Paddington Library hosted two events devoted to crime fiction: Elizabeth Flynn spoke about her novels which feature detective Inspector Angela Costello and there was a well attended panel talk given by authors Lisa Cutts and Simon Booker. Finally author MG Robinson visited Church Street Library to discuss her book Sledge: the Soul of Notting Hill, about the life and times of her father, the very first ‘Rasta man of Notting Hill’.

The first weekend in October is now the established date for Silver Sunday, an annual day celebrating older people. We have already reported on a couple of the other Silver Sunday events that took place in Westminster Libraries, but there were many more both on the day itself and the weeks before and after, including those at Paddington Library: For the first time this year, Owen arranged and led bespoke IT workshops on Online Family History and Online Shopping. Lots of people enjoyed chair yoga with Tim or took part in a play reading led by Kate and Laurence from Oscar Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’. Additonal taster IT sessions completed the programme.

Silver Sunday 2016 at Paddington Library

Will we be having a rest now? Of course not! Take a look at our events page or follow @WCCLibraries on Twitter to find out what’s next (tip: career networking, Black History Month and spooky Halloween half-term events are on the agenda so far).


Happy 100th Birthday, Roald Dahl!

Willy Wonka at Maida Vale Library's Roald Dahl centenary party, September 2016Several Westminster libraries held events this week to celebrate the centenary of the author Roald Dahl.

Maida Vale Library held a Roald Dahl 100th birthday party on Tuesday, which followed on nicely from this year’s Summer Reading Scheme, whose ‘Big Friendly Read‘ theme focused on Roald Dahl’s books for children.

It was a jumpsquifflingly* hot and sunny day, but around 25 kiddles* aged 7 and over risked lixivation* for a phizz-whizzing* time. We decorated the library with a flying Willy Wonka and a model of the BFG. We had a variety of frothbuggling* Dahl-themed games, like hiding pictures of his characters around the library, an anagram game from character’s names, Dahl Bingo, spotting words in the poem “The Ant eater”, LOTS of chocolate (it would have been rude not to) and a Dahl themed juice bar – but no swatchscollop snozzcumbers*. Eric even dressed up as the Big Friendly Giant complete with oversized ears.

It went down very well and lots of the children and parents said what a gloriumptious* experience it had been.


Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary


* If you want to know what these words mean, you’ll have to come and borrow a copy of the Roald Dahl Dictionary!

Big Friendly Medals!

Big Friendly Read 2016 - medal!

It’s the last week of the summer holidays already, and we’ve been holding parties to mark the end of the Summer Reading Challenge events in our libraries… however, there is still time to finish the Challenge and get your medal! So if you haven’t read 6 books yet, don’t worry – you will still be able to visit your local library after school or at the weekend in the next week or so, to tell us about your books and receive a medal for reading 6.

We have had over 1500 children join in the Challenge this summer, so if you are one of them and would like to get your medal, head to your local library soon to make sure you don’t miss out.

And finally – take a look at these great Roald Dahl-themed pop up cards made by children at Maida Vale Library. We hope you’ve all enjoyed joining the Challenge and have been able to come to some of the events. Thanks to everyone who has taken part – to the children, the library staff and all the volunteers – we’ve had a Big Friendly Blast!


Not only Dahl – the Big Friendly Read continues

Professor Lightning and his Mad Science workshop at Pimlico Library, August 2016What’s your favourite Roald Dahl story? The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, or perhaps The Twits?
Whatever it is, you don’t have to read only Roald Dahl books to join in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, The Big Friendly Read. You can read anything you like from the library: joke books, information books, or story books. There is still time to join in, and it’s free – just ask at your local library. If you read 6 books before the Challenge finishes, you receive a medal!

There are also events going on all summer in our libraries, to keep children and families entertained. Here is one of our entertainers, Boo Hiccup, performing magic tricks and all round silliness at Maida Vale Library – the children LOVED it!

Boo Hiccup at Maida Vale Library, August 2016 Boo Hiccup at Maida Vale Library, August 2016

And in the style of Georges’ Marvellous Medicine, ‘Mad Science’ came along to Pimlico Library to conduct some science experiments with the children. Here (and above) is Professor Lightening making some troll bogeys… actually linked polymers. It was great fun!

Professor Lightning and his Mad Science workshop at Pimlico Library, August 2016


Chocolate Challenge!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald DahlAs part of the Summer Reading Challenge, Maida Vale Library hosted a Chocolate Challenge!

Children came along to design and make their own chocolate boxes and chocolates from salt dough and give them exciting Dahlesque names like ‘Strawberry Fizzwanglers’ and ‘Crocolate Snappetizers’.

The event was a great success with over 40 children attending and a scrumdelicious time was had by all. Real chocolate was handed out to the chocolatiers, so no one left empty handed!

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016

We’ve got many more Big Friendly Read events in Westminster Libraries – chocolate-themed or otherwise – right through the summer holidays. Check the Big Friendly Read page or follow @WCCLibraries on Twitter for all the details.


The Big Friendly Read

To celebrate 100 years of one of the world’s favourite storytellers, Roald Dahl, libraries are running The Big Friendly Read this summer holidays.

Rachel from Tiny Tunes entertaining the under fives at Marylebone libraryThe Summer Reading Challenge 2016 will feature some of Roald Dahl’s best-loved characters and the amazing artwork of his principal illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake. It will encourage reading on a BFG scale!
Aimed at primary school aged children, the Big Friendly Read is happening at libraries across Westminster all summer.

To take part in the Challenge, all children need to do is sign up at their nearest library. It’s free! They’ll receive a special collector’s folder and as they borrow and read at least six library books over the summer, they can collect six special cards to complete it. The cards all feature original Quentin Blake illustrations and explore some of most popular themes in Roald Dahl’s books such as invention, mischief and friendship. Plus there are other rewards to collect along the way.

Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016

There’s a whole programme of events and activities planned in Westminster libraries for families over the summer to celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge. Have a look at what’s on at your local library.

Here are a few pictures of what’s been going on this week:

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In June, somebody celebrated their second birthday of the year…

Maida Vale Library pulled out all the stops for its week of free celebrations to commemorate The Queen’s Official 90th birthday on 11 June 2016. Like The Mall itself, the library was be-decked in patriotic red, white and blue Union Flag bunting.

Crown making craft activity for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016 Crown making craft activity for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016
The 'Crown Jewels' on display for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The celebrations kicked off on the Monday with the first of four craft drop-in sessions. The families who came along made some wonderfully designed crowns which sparkled in the sunlight as they left the building. One little boy was particularly pleased to be able to make another crown, having already made one recently at school for The Queen.

“It’s great that the library does theses craft and art events as they don’t do much art stuff at school nowadays.”

Making Buckingham Palace for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

On the Tuesday, families made 3D models of Buckingham Palace out of recycled junk and on the Wednesday a wonderful collage of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee’s Thames Flotilla of boats was recreated and is now proudly on display in the children’s library.

“My kid really loved this event as he’s mad on boats.”

Remembering the Jubilee Flotilla for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The first big event of the week took place on the Wednesday with our under 5s’ Royal Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Blankets were laid out on the floor and the toddlers and their teddies were treated to music, songs and rhymes along with healthy food and drink. Staff took the opportunity to talk to carers about library partners such as MEND who will be working with us over the summer providing free weekly sessions. They also promoted upcoming library health events specifically aimed at young children, such as Dinosaur Douglas who made an appearance the following week as part of National Smile Week.

“Fabulous event for kids and nannies! I’ve enjoyed it as much as the kids.”

Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016 Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The Thursday saw a multitude of different designs created for cards and badges fit for The Queen. We also had two more major events for the over 5s: a red, white and blue themed Indoor Street Party with children’s entertainment which took place on the Friday, followed by a visit from Zoo Lab on Saturday who brought along some of The Queen’s smaller beasts to the library.

Our partner Imagethirst was on hand to offer a free photo to children (or adults for that matter!) at the party with our special guest of honour…

Portrait with 'The Queen' at Maida Vale Library, June 2016

All in all nearly 300 people turned up at the various events and activities which took place over the week. We were particularly pleased that we were able to showcase the best of British to some new arrivals who have settled in Westminster and made it their home.

None of these events could have been possible without the ward funding provided by Little Venice, Maida Vale and Westbourne wards. Staff and volunteers worked as a team to make so many events happen in such a short period of time and I must thank each and every one of them for all their hard work.

“The staff here are brilliant and so helpful, they always have so many interesting ideas.”