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Resources Blog » October 2016RSS Feed RSS

The SLA Resources Blog is designed to highlight new resources which we at the SLA think may be of interest to school librarians and to others working in related fields. The blog is available at and can also be read via an RSS feed at

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.


MurderSecondary school librarians and English departments across the United Kingdom have been providing a new library-based challenge for their students this year: solving a murder!

Using the materials provided in Box Clever Education’s recently released murder mystery kit ‘Murder by the Book’, sections of school libraries have been turned into crime scenes. The kit provides everything that is required, from the clues and scenario, to support materials such as crime scene tape, promotional posters and student support documents, allowing schools to quickly set up their crime scene with minimal preparation.

The activity is delivered in three main stages. After completing the warm-up ‘Detective Exam’, student teams visit the crime scene and investigate the 44 different clues within a set time limit, working together to uncover the truth about how a librarian’s assistant met with a suspicious end. With three plausible suspects in the frame (including the librarian) and a number of red herrings to lead teams astray, the activity challenges students to ensure that all clues are carefully examined, recorded and cross-referenced. After visiting the crime scene, teams are encouraged to pool their ideas and formulate theories as to who did it, why, how and also how the remaining two suspects could be proven innocent. The final stage of the activity requires student teams to provide a detailed solution, either in written form or as a verbal presentation. Once all solutions have been submitted and the best overall response has been chosen, a PowerPoint-based solution is provided to fully explain how the crime was committed.

For more information about ‘Murder by the Book', including delivery guidance, product contents, skills maps, demonstration photos and testimonials, please visit Box Clever Education’s website: A 10% discount offer is currently in place for all SLA members (coupon code: SHERLOCK10).

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Book reviews from children and parents

ToppstaToppsta is a relatively new website but already has more than 7,000 reviews written by children and parents. Focusing on children’s books for ages up to 12, it’s an amazing resource for keeping up to date with which books children are really enjoying reading. All the reviews are organised by the age of the child making it easy to see what children of all ages are reading at home. And every review includes information on whether the child read it themselves, or had the book read to them by someone else.  The site covers a broad range of titles from board books to classic fiction, debut authors to bestselling titles, fiction, reference and non-fiction

Easy centralised resource for libraries, schools and book clubs to write reviews -

  • It’s a great website for children who use your library to upload their own reviews
  • Children can build their own reading timeline and discover books recommended by other readers
  • You can also sign up to a receive a weekly newsletter with recommendations based on the age of the children in your profile

Safe environment

  • Adults are required to register first before setting up a child’s account 
  • There are no photos allowed and no forum for users to talk directly to each other, making it a safe environment for children to voice their opinions

For your library website

  • If you have a “Resources” or "Links” page on your library or school website, this would be a useful resource for children, parents, teachers and anyone interested in children’s books.

Free books

  • The site runs regular book giveaways where readers can enter to win and review books, though adults need to enter on behalf of children. 
  • Librarians are warmly invited to enter the giveaways to win books for their libraries as long as reviews are submitted after receiving the book

If you have any queries, suggestions or comments you can email georgina[at]

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New! Reading Outcomes Framework

Reading Outcomes Framework Toolkit Thumb 300x212 15105At The Reading Agency we believe that evaluating the impact of our work is vitally important: we need to be clear about how reading for pleasure and empowerment impacts on people's lives and how our programmes contribute to this. We need this information because we are ambitious for our programmes. We want to get more people involved in reading and we want to be sure that they have high quality experiences which make a difference to them.

We have been leading an innovative, collaborative project to help improve impact evaluation across the sector, by developing a reading outcomes framework toolkit. We are very grateful to the Peter Sowerby Foundation for funding this work.

The reading outcomes framework toolkit includes:

  • a framework of the outcomes of reading for pleasure and empowerment
  • sample survey questions to evaluate whether a programme impacts on these outcomes
  • a bank of evidence about how reading relates to these outcomes

A useful tools for librarians everywhere!

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Cats, Dogs and Us: All-Age Special Schools Edition

Special Schools Lessons CoverCats and dogs are great friends to our students and through a new free pack from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, teachers will be able to explore with students how to return that friendship. In learning about cats and dogs through the Cats, Dogs and Us Special Schools Edition resource, students will also learn about things useful to their own lives, such as how we express emotions and what we all need to be happy and healthy. The resource includes a colorful magazine to share with students, lesson plans and a number of supporting activities including songs about cats and dogs, animal sensory experiences to explore with students, symbols to support communication, role-play activities and suggestions for a public performance based on students’ learning. We hope teachers will find something for every one of their students in this pack, including those who access their learning in a purely sensory way and those achieving at a level equivalent to their mainstream peers.

The link for the text 'Cats, Dogs and Us: Special Schools Edition' is

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