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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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
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.
— Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character
Happy New Year!
With my elder two at school since Easter, it has been very special to have time in the day to read longer chapter books to my four year girl that are pitched just for her. Continue reading
The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.
— G.H. Hardy
In a world that thinks of education through a post-Enlightenment lens, we need to hear Hardy’s words more than ever. Maths is beautiful. Continue reading
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
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
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
I have fond memories of arriving at my grandparent’s in Spain each summer, and my grandmother had thoughtfully chosen books from their bookshelves and put them on my bedside table for me to enjoy during my stay. Continue reading
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
Last week I had the privilege of attending a conversation between Lucy Mangan and Katherine Rundell at Mostly Books, Abingdon. Both are authors, bookworms and passionate about children’s literature – so it was a stimulating and inspiring evening.