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Book-themed activities for children

The children's corner at Jaffe & Neale
The children’s corner at Jaffe & Neale

It’s the school holidays in many parts of the UK, so if you’re already struggling for inspiration to entertain the children, why not try something book-related? Here are our top five activities:

1) Reading

Okay, so that’s an obvious one, but try mixing it up a little. Big children reading to smaller ones; small children reading to grown ups… Dig out old favourites, buy or borrow new ones, and read aloud to each other. Check out our previous post for the benefits of what is sometimes called ‘shared reading‘.

2) Act out a favourite book

This is a great activity for younger children, and something the whole family can enjoy. Raid the dressing-up box (and Mum’s wardrobe), get out the face paints, and put on a performance. Older children enjoy mixing this up into a form of charades, where the audience (other family members) has to guess which book is being performed.

3) Make a book bag

Perfect for pre-schoolers, this activity mixes sensory play with storytelling. Read a favourite picture book, then collect objects that relate to the story to go in your bag. You might include some leaves, or a large pebble, or perhaps an item of clothing. Once the bag is finished, take it in turns to use the props to tell a part of the story. (A Books Are My Bag tote bag is perfect for this!)

4) Write a book

This might sound like a daunting task, but it’s a great project for longer holidays. Older children might write a story on their own, while younger ones can help with illustration, or with shaping the story for you to write on their behalf. It doesn’t have to be fiction: think about writing your family history, or simply an account of your holiday.

5) Storytelling

Remember playing Consequences? Some of us lose the art of making up stories as we get older, so it’s great to revisit it with our children. Explain to them that all good tales need a beginning, a middle and an end, and use one of their favourite books to illustrate what you mean. Use this structure to build a collaborative story, either to be written down, or simply told out loud.

Whatever you do over the holidays, enjoy them. Jaffé & Neale is open every day for book browsing, coffee and cake, so pop in and tell us what you’ve been up to!

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Are you sitting comfortably?

Top-Five-Bad-Reading-Habits-You-Should-Avoid-At-All-CostsWhen you think about reading aloud, you probably think of children, don’t you? Bed-time stories, perhaps, or reading to a group at school or play-group. But there are a growing number of adults in the UK who are rediscovering the joy of hearing a story read aloud.

The concept is called ‘shared reading’, and it replicates what previous generations took for granted: the experience of sitting together in a room or around a fire, listening to stories together. Over the years reading has become a solitary experience, but there are huge benefits to sharing it with others. Books read aloud take on another dimension – part literature, part performance – and so your interpretation of the story changes. For many people, particularly those with dyslexia or short attention spans, reading is hard work: providing ‘live audio’ means the listeners can enjoy the story without struggling or skipping sections. Like other group-based activities, shared reading builds social connections and and provides a supportive framework of like-minded people.

The Reader Organisation aims to enhance communities by providing shared reading experiences. The website is littered with testimonials showing how their work increases self-awareness, confidence and wellbeing, and offers some impressive statistics:

74% said shared reading had improved their mood

81% are more able to relax

72% felt shared reading had helped them think about things in a different way

To find out more about the work carried out by The Reader Organisation, take a look at their website. In the meantime, why not start some shared reading of your own? Read to a partner, or pair up with a friend to take turns to read aloud. If you live alone, try reading aloud to yourself, and consider how it changes the way you feel about the story, and about the language used. It’s a whole new experience.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.


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How many of these books have you read?

If there’s one thing we love almost as much as reading books, it’s talking about books. So we loved this list which has been doing the rounds on websites and social media networks recently.

Although we can’t find the source of the claim, the list states that most people will only have read around six of the 100 books on this list. Everyone we’ve spoken to has read many more than that, but maybe we just hang out with bookish sort of people…

We asked some of the team how they scored. How many have YOU read?

reading list


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What kind of reader are you?


Readers might share a passion for the wonderful world of books, but everyone has their own reading habit. Here are just a few of our favourites:



The Plodder

Takes a year or more to read a book, getting through a couple of pages at each sitting. Only ever reads in bed.

The Speed Reader

Easily reads a book a day. Skims the boring bits and turns pages so fast, fingers are a blur. Frequently loses track of what’s going on.

The Addict

Reads everything from the Booker prize winner to the back of a cereal packet. Reads whilst walking. Goes to the loo purely for an opportunity to get through another few pages.

The Fickle Reader

Gives up on more books than are finished. Often has three or more books on the go. Reads all genres.

The Loyalist

Finds a favourite author and doggedly works through their entire backlist.

What kind of reader are you?

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Choosing your next read

So you’ve come to the end of a great book, and you’re looking for something to read next. How do you choose? There are so many titles being released every month, it’s hard to know where to start. Here is our advice on where to start:

1. Read more by the same author.

There’s nothing better than discovering a great book by an author you’ve not heard of before, and discovering a huge back catalogue of titles! Even if the book you’ve read isn’t part of a series, most authors stick to the same style of writing, so you know what to expect.

2. Look for something else in the same genre.

Labels can be restrictive, but they’re a useful starting point when you’re looking for something new. Think about the books you already like: are they procedural crime? Thriller? Romance? Biography? Then browse the bookshelves in that section and see what jumps out.

3. Swap with a friend.

Take a gamble and pass your favourite book to a friend, asking for a pot luck read in return. It’s always interesting to see the books others recommend for us, and even if the cover doesn’t take your fancy, you might enjoy it!

4. Ask the internet.

Whether you chat on Twitter or Facebook, or like to read the book reviews in the newspapers, there are thousands of readers on the internet. Ask for suggestions, or lurk in the shadows and see what other people are talking about.

5. Check out the shortlists. And the long ones.

Lists in general are a great place to start when you’re looking for new reads. Check out the Costa Book Awards website, where you can see all previous winners, or the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.  Alternatively, World Book Night titles are chosen with the specific purpose of getting people reading, so they tend to be accessible and exciting.

6. Ask your independent bookseller

A good bookseller isn’t just there to work the till – if that were the case you may as well shop online. The great thing about independent booksellers is that we’ve actually read the books we sell, and we each have our favourites! You can mooch into Jaffé & Neale and waffle to us about the books you’ve liked in the past, the ones that left you cold, and what your reading habits are. As if by magic, we’ll recommend a book we think you’ll love.

We post regular book reviews on our blog, so bookmark the page or subscribe to receive updates via email, and maybe our next recommendation will be right up your street.

How do you choose your books?