Oxford Stories

Excerpt from “Oxford” by Tom Lovatt-Williams

I see the coloured lilacs flame
In many an ancient Oxford lane
And bright laburnum holds its bloom
Suspended golden in the noon,
The placid lawns I often tread
Are stained and carpeted with red…

These lines from Lovatt-Williams’ poem ‘Oxford’ capture perfectly the beauty of this city over the last few weeks.  Lockdown has definitely made me far more appreciative of the  way nature is changing around us here in Oxford as we take our ‘daily exercise’.  And now with online learning underway across the world, here in Oxford a number of children are learning the story of their city.  Oxford has an extraordinarily rich history with so many avenues to explore. Of course there are many famous children’s authors from Oxford to explore too, including Lewis Carroll, J.R.R.Tolkein, C.S. Lewis and Phillip Pulman.

One Oxford school has put together this website Oxford What’s Your Story? to help children explore and get to know their everyday surroundings during lockdown.  Some wonderful resources can be found there. I’m reading one of their recommendations to the children at the moment – Oxford By a Very Oxford Cat.  The cat takes the readers on an engaging and informative adventure around the city with details about the city itself, the university and the stories that have come from here.  It’s an imaginative introduction to one of the most famous cities in the world full of dry British wit.

Here are a few Oxford gems below for primary aged children:

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Open Your Eyes!

To shop, and school, to work and play,
The busy people pass all day;
They hurry, hurry, to and fro,
And hardly notice as they go
The wayside flowers, known so well,
Whose names so few of them can tell.

They never think of fairy-folk
Who may be hiding for a joke!

O, if these people understood
What’s to be found by field and wood;
What fairy secrets are made plain
By any footpath, road, or lane—
They’d go with open eyes, and look,
(As you will, when you’ve read this book)
And then at least they’d learn to see
How pretty common things can be!

— Cicely Mary Barker

 

With hardly a shop or school to go to, one of the silver linings for us during lockdown has been time to walk or run most days.  Without the rush of normal life, we have had time to appreciate the wild flowers growing along nearby pavements, paths and in meadows and woodlands. Continue reading

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In a squeaky voice he piped in the man’s ear: “Senhor, a ruined rain forest means ruined lives … many ruined lives. You will leave many of us homeless if you chop down this great Kapok tree.”

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I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp.

— J.K. Rowling

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There are few stronger family bonds than this habit of devoting an occasional hour to reading aloud, on winter evenings, at any rate. The practice is pleasant at the time, and pleasant in the retrospect, it gives occasion for much bright talk, merry and wise, and quickens family affection by means of intellectual sympathy. Indeed, the wonder is that any family should neglect such a simple means of pure enjoyment, and of moral, as well as intellectual culture.

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Happy New Year!

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Children’s Christmas Stories

The Magic of Christmas
— Tom Krause

‘Joy to the World’, the carolers sang out
as last minute shoppers scurried about,
desperately seeking that one special gift
that would give Christmas morning a magical lift.

A old man standing still listening to the song,
amidst all the madness of the bustling throng,
in a shaky hoarse voice began to join in
singing the words of the famous old hymn.

One by one people stopped with their madness
to join with the old man for a moment of gladness.
By the time the carolers finished singing their song
the whole throng was united as they all sang along.

And as if by magic from out of the sky
church bells rang out from a chapel near by.
When the song finally ended the people greeted each other
with messages of good will they shared with one another.

You see that magical gift the shoppers sought for so long,
was not in the shopping or scurrying along.
That magical gift so desperately sought
was the Spirit of Christmas -which could never be bought.

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