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’. Continue reading

Tudor Books 8+

It’s all about the Tudors this term in our house.  There’s nothing like well-written historical fiction to bring history alive for young ones, alongside visiting museums and relevant places of interest. Continue reading

Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605

Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed.  Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Continue reading

Egyptian Historical Fiction 5+

Write what should never be forgotten.

— Isabel Allende

Understanding the past is fundamental to who we are in the present and the kind of society we seek to build into the future. Historical fiction is one way we can help our children to inhabit the past, Continue reading

Children’s Audiobooks 7+

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

With the summer holidays fast approaching, there is plenty of time to develop the world of our imagination.  We find audiobooks a great way of immersing ourselves in stories, so here are some we’ve enjoyed this year that you might like for your travels: Continue reading

Victorian Historical Fiction 6+

As promised in last week’s post on World War II Historical Fiction, I’ve put a list together of literature set during the Victorian times that my daughter has pulled off our bookshelves. Continue reading

WWII Historical Fiction 6+

The evacuees were to sleep in the big attic room with dark beams overhead.  It was chilly and had no electric light or carpets but there was a nice woody smell.  A curtain hung down the middle.  Joyce, Patsy and Winnie were together on one side and Lenny was alone on the other.

The Lion and the Unicorn, Shirley Hughes

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An Afternoon with Michael Morpurgo

Just before Easter we got to hear Michael Morpurgo live in conversation with Nicolette Jones at the Sheldonian as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Morpurgo is one of my son’s favourite authors and was speaking on his birthday, so it was an ideal birthday outing.  The conversation covered topics from the personal to the political and engaged all ages.  

However there were three things that he emphasised as being key for today’s children: Continue reading

Visiting Rome

“Rome, the city of visible history.”

— George Elliot

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that we’ve just got back from an amazing few days in Rome. George Elliot is spot on. Rome certainly is “the city of visible history”. Wherever  we looked – whether up at the domes, down the cobbled alleyways or strolling around the Colosseum – history was there.

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Introducing Shakespeare

We probably read Shakespeare in the first place for his stories, afterwards for his characters, the multitude of delightful persons with whom he makes us so intimate that afterwards, in fiction or in fact, we say, ‘She is another Jessica,’ and ‘That dear girl is a Miranda’; ‘She is a Cordelia to her father,’ and, such a figure in history, ‘a base lago.’ To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mould our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life.

— Charlotte Mason

It feels as though we have just taken the lid off a treasure chest as we have opened William Shakespeare together this term. Continue reading