December 1, 2016
by Nora Nagy

Four Heartwarming Reading Projects for December

decemberDecember is such a fun month. Not only does it have promises of great gatherings, family celebrations and moments of real relaxation, it also happens to give us a chance to give and receive books as presents or to curl up in a big comfy chair with a favourite read.

Here are some fun projects you can do with your classes or with your friends and family.

Holiday Book Exchange

Organise a book exchange tea party before you go on holiday. Getting a holiday book recommendation can be really motivating for some students. You can suggest swapping books during the holidays, or even for a month, and then you have something to discuss at the end of January.

Book Charity Event

Another thing you can do with very little organisation is a charity book collection for a local group or social service.

  • Contact the charity or social service which you wish to donate the books to.
  • Prepare a poster to promote the event. Hand-made posters can look nice, especially if you prepare them with you students.
  • Pick a date, time and place for everyone in the school when they can get together and drop the books they decide to offer.
  • Ask the charity or the social service to come and pick up the books.
  • Make sure everyone knows that they books will go to libraries, schools and families who need some extra help over the holidays and Christmas celebrations.

Best of 2016

It is the time of the year when we like looking back and remembering the best moments of the year. Dedicate some time to reading about the best of 2016 book selections in various magazines, newspapers and journals. Ask your students to check their own favourite magazines for such lists. You can also prepare your own best of list, and ask your classes to vote for their favourite reads (and readers) in 2016.

Advent reading calendar

If you celebrate Christmas and like advent calendars, it is a nice idea to prepare one for December. Place titles of novels, short stories, poems, plays, picture books and graphic novels in your calendar, and share information about them or read them out loud if you have enough time.

You can add stories about Christmas, winter, snow and love in your calendar.

Stay tuned for our Best Books of 2016 lists, and we will be back with some holiday reading and activity ideas next week. 


November 30, 2016
by Nora Nagy

Inspiring Reading Projects You Need to Follow

Do you love reading and want some ideas on how to make your hobby even more insprining? There are lots of exciting reading projects which are actively promoting reading, from celebrity book clubs to book chains and book sharing initatives. Earlier this month we talked about the Books on the Underground project and Emma Watson’s appearance as a book fairy in London. Her great example is just one of the many projects you can follow or imitate.

We have collected some of our favourite reading projects and celebrity book clubs to inspire you and your classes. Share these ideas with your students and ask them to reflect on them.

This well-established initative is based on the idea of giving your books a life of their own. When you finish a book you leave it for someone else and its journey is traced on a label inside the cover. For more information go to the website and send one of your favourite books on a worldwide tour! Continue Reading →

November 24, 2016
by Nora Nagy

Key Figures in Education 2: Zoltán Dörnyei

In this series we introduce key figures in education, and take a look at pivotal areas of their thinking. Educational research draws on reasearch from a number of fields, and these in turn influence our approaches to designing our lessons and courses. Our aim is to inspire you to revisit these theories and to suggest ways of applying them in your classes.

Zoltán Dörnyei

Zoltán Dörnyei

We continue our journey with Zoltán Dörnyei and explore his influence on motivational research in the fields of psycholinguistics and second-language education.

Who is Dörnyei?

Zoltán Dörnyei (born in 1960) is a Hungarian psychologist and psycholinguist, who is best known for his work in second language acquisition, individual differences and motivation research. Continue Reading →

November 22, 2016
by Nora Nagy

Explore the world of King Arthur

9783990454107_cvr_King Arthur.inddThe story of King Arthur is one of the most well-known and popular British legends and is made up of a series of interlocking tales which are also known as the Arthurian Cycle. Many of these stories are famous on their own and our students may be surprised to read them all in one book. King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Percival, Sir Galahad, Sir Lancelot, the Lady of the Lake, Morgana, Vivien, Merlin, the sword in the stone, Excalibur, and Avalon. These are just some of the characters, places and objects that continue to live on in our imaginations.

Reading the legend with teen learners should be a real adventure whether or not they are familar with all the different characters and twists in the tale and most, if not all of them, will have seen a TV or cinema adaption of some part of the story.

Since Le Morte d’Arthur, the collection of tales written by Thomas Malory in the 15th century, the story has gone through a number of very different adaptations. Classic film adaptations include Excalibur (1981) with Nigel Perry and Helen Mirren, First Knight (1995) with Sean Connery and Richard Gere or King Arthur (2004) with Keira Knightley and Clive Owen, and comic adaptations include Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Shrek the Third (2007) as well as the TV seriers, Avalon High. A new adaptation is coming out in 2017, directed by Guy Ritchie starring Jude Law and Eric Bana. Some of us might be more familiar with visual retellings as the legend and medieval history was popular with two groups of 19th-century painters, both the Pre-Raphaelites and the fin-de-siécle painters.

The popular retelling by Howard Pyle has been adapted for elementary level readers in the Helbling Red Readers series by Scott Lauder and Walter McGregor, and illustrated by Roberto Tomei.

Let’s see three activities which you can use to introduce and approach this tale in your elementary-level teen classes.   Continue Reading →

November 15, 2016
by Nora Nagy

How can Emma Watson get your students to read more?

Emma Watson on the London Underground. Source: BOOKS ON THE UNDERGROUND / FACEBOOK

Emma Watson on the London Underground. Source: BOOKS ON THE UNDERGROUND / FACEBOOK

If you have been reading news or social media sites recently, you may come across pictures and videos of Emma Watson hiding books on the London Underground. Why was she doing that? And how can she inspire your students to read more? Here is more about what Emma has been doing and how you can carry out a similar project.

Books on the Underground

The Books on the Underground project has gained worldwide attention in the past two weeks, when Emma Watson appeared on the London Underground, hiding copies of Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou. However, the project has been successfully running since 2012, first in London, then in New York, and now in several cities all over the world.

The project was set up by Hollie Fraser, who then moved to New York to start Books on the Subway. The London project was taken over by Cordelia Oxley.

Go to this website to read more.

Emma Watson as a Book Fairy

Emma Watson joined the team of Book Fairies, who are part of the Books on the Underground project. They are the ones who physically leave the books on the Underground. The team has a schedule which you can follow on their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Travelling Books: A Book Project in your School or Community

Your school might not have an underground system, but you can definitely do something very similar in class. Talk about the Books on the Underground project with your students, and ask them if they can imagine something similar in their own school or community. How would they set it up? How would they manage it? How long would it last? Get inspired by the Books on the Underground project.

1 Use stickers to make the objective clear. Books on the Underground uses stickers to make sure everyone understands they can take the books, but once they have read them, they should leave them for someone else to enjoy.

2 Choose the book carefully. Select the book ahead, and have a reason for choosing them. Emma Watson left copies of Mary Angelou’s book, because her own book club, Our Shared Shelf had been reading that.

3 Have a schedule. Once you have selected the book or books, decide when you are going to leave them. It might be a good idea to do so in the morning. Tweet or post about it on some social media.

4 Keep doing it, and stick to your schedule. You can make one book a month your minimum, but you can never go wrong with overachieving.

5 It is a nice idea to stick a card into the book and let people add information in the following three columns: a) Date I found the book. b) Place where I found the book. c) Place where I leave the book.

Then let your favourite books travel around your school, town or city.

If you want to find out about other special book events and projects, have a look at these three posts:

You can also check out our Book Club Starter Kit:

And visit this website to learn about this beautiful idea, The Reading Project: