Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 22

8 March 2024

Dear Parents,

What a week it has been, celebrating all things literacy with our annual ‘Festival of Words’ organised with typical enthusiasm and creativity by our librarian extraordinaire, Susannah Howard.   The aim, of course, is that this focus on literacy and in particular a love of reading, remains with the boys throughout their schooling and lifetimes and to that end ***New Beacon Initiative Alert***  we launched ‘Beacon Birthday Books’ in Monday’s Assembly.   The idea here is that on the occasion of one’s birthday – mine this coming Tuesday if you’re asking – any boy of any age is welcome to donate a book to the Library.  This could be their favourite novel, a reference book, a graphic novel – anything really – but once they bring it to the Library, Mrs Howard will insert our specially commissioned ‘plates’ inside the front cover, give it a protective jacket and catalogue it in our collection for all current and future Beacon boys to enjoy.

I challenged the boys in Assembly to think of which books I might donate this coming Tuesday, and I was heartened to hear suggestions of any book on Tintin, Watford FC or Lego from the audience – House Point for paying attention to my whims and interests boys.  In fact, I think I might stray from these stereotyped interests and will walk down Berkhamsted High Street tomorrow morning to find some of the favourite reads of my childhood.  The first, if I can find it (or Amazon Prime to the rescue), will be Jan Pienkowski’s ‘Haunted House’.  This is a pop-up book that only has half a dozen pages or so, but I remember it so fondly from my childhood and looked through it endlessly, pulling at all the ingenious cardboard engineering.  I still have my early 1980s copy but the gorilla’s arm fell off many years ago and the 3D staircase has collapsed into 1D – not suitable for a Beacon library, so I will source a brand new copy.

Secondly, I will buy a copy of Robert Westall’s ‘The Machine Gunners’.  I well remember covering this book at my school and summarizing each chapter for homework where we could accompany it with a drawing.  Never had a homework been so enjoyable, especially as around that time the book was serialised as a children’s TV drama that was just as memorable as the book itself.  Thirdly, and for some of our older readers in Years 7 and 8, I have bought a copy of Nick Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch’.  Being an Arsenal fan is not normally something that is celebrated at this school, but this book is beautifully written and very emotive.  Amazon publish it as a ‘Penguin Modern Classic’ and that is absolutely what it is.  Any boy interested in football, history or simply as a narrative of growing up will find reading this book a memorable experience.

Enjoy my birthday books boys – let’s see what you can bring to the Library and share with your fellow Beaconians in the years ahead!

Have a good weekend,

Nick Baker

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