Books and the Early Years Foundation Stage

untitled-drawing-1If you work with young children, or if your children attend a nursery, playgroup or have a childminder, you will have heard about the Early Years Foundation Stage. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old.  All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

So that may sound like a bit of a mouthful…what is it actually all about? Basically the EYFS sets out how the people who look after children must help them learn and develop; how they must care for them and make sure they stay safe while helping them enjoy what the are learning today and prepare for what they are going to learn next.

The EYFS includes different areas of learning. These are the areas of learning that the people caring for children need to consider when providing learning experiences for children. There are seven areas all together; three are the prime areas which are particularly crucial, especially in the first three years, and then four are specific areas which help to strengthen the prime areas.

Where can books fit into all of this? One of the prime areas of learning and development is Communication and Language, and it is seems pretty obvious that books can help children with their listening skills and ensure that they hear lots of lovely and interesting language. Literacy is one of the specific areas of learning, and it is pretty straight forward that books will help children learn to read and eventually link certain sounds with certain letters. What about the rest of it though?

Have a look below at a new project we are developing here at Oak Farm Library. The project is called Learning Together Books where we choose a children’s book and suggest activities associated with the book; then link them to the different areas of learning and development in the EYFS. The activities should encourage play and be fun.

If you are a childminder or work in a nursery, you can use these guidance sheets to support your planning. If you are a parent, use the suggestions to plan some fun activities for you and your child.

Download the guidance sheet here: borisgetsspots

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to borrow one of the titles that we have available with the guidance sheet. The example below is one of six titles we currently have available, but more are being developed. We can also suggest related books to help extend learning.

Happy reading and learning!


Current titles available in the Learning Together Books range:

Download the guidance sheet here: borisgetsspots

Agnes Grunwald-Spier: Who Betrayed the Jews Talk at Uxbridge Library (Holocaust Memorial Day)

Amended 31/1/17. 

Agnes Grunwald-Spier joined Uxbridge Library on Saturday 28th January 2017 to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.



Before discussing her book Who Betrayed the Jews,  Agnes Grunwald-Spier introduced herself and her family’s involvement with the Holocaust. Agnes was born in Budapest in 1944, the same year that the Nazis invaded Hungary. 

Agnus was held in the Budapest ghetto for three months. The Prussians liberated Budapest in 1945 and she escaped with her family to Vienna and then finally came to England in 1947. It was not until Agnes reached her 50s that she decided to research into the Holocaust, encouraged by the awareness that her children seemed typically English but had a bigger history.



In presenting her book Who Betrayed the Jews,  Agnes Grunwald-Spier wanted to make it clear that even Jewish soldiers who had fought in the First World War and Jewish Olympians who had won medals for their countries were not safe from betrayal by the state.


One of the most disturbing stories Agnes told from her book Who Betrayed the Jews? was of Otto Deutsch. Otto’s father, Victor, fought in the First World War with a man Otto would grow up to consider an Uncle. This man later betrayed Otto’s father on the night of Kristallnacht when he and the Hitler Youth took Victor away.


Through her family photographs and anecdotes Agnes Grunwald-Spier brought a new awareness to the disturbing facts and figures we know about the Holocaust. One photo, from her son’s wedding day in 2008, revealed the tragic loss of not just immediate life in the Holocaust but of the future generations.


We would like to thank Agnes Grunwald-Spier for her illuminating talk on Who Betrayed the Jews.


The book is available to borrow from Hillingdon Libraries or to purchase from book stores.


By Mark – Uxbridge Library

My work experience at Hillingdon Local Studies and Uxbridge Library

Ahmed recently completed his work experience at Hillingdon Local Studies and Uxbridge Library. Here is a small taster of what he got up to. We’d like to thank Ahmed and wish him all the best for the future!  – Mark

Uxbridge Central Library Opening


Words cannot explain how much I have enjoyed working at Hillingdon Local Studies Service at Uxbridge Library today. Firstly, I have learnt a lot about the background history of Oak Farm, Hillingdon. Oak Farm in 1866, then an actual farm house, was mainly surrounded by farms and fields rather than the buildings surrounding Oak Farm today – including schools, churches, library and other buildings.

By 1959 Oak Farm was home to All Saints Church with its church hall for local meetings. Furthermore, the Metropolitan station was becoming more commonly used by residents of Oak Farm, as there were more developed houses and more people wanting to use the train to get to work.



Uxbridge Library in general has been able to provide me with great experience on how a librarian works and the issues that come with the job. Furthermore, it has given me vital experience of a work place and the role that I might have to play in the future. The employees at Uxbridge Library have been very kind and helpful throughout this week in helping me to understand their work environment.

I would like to thank everyone at Uxbridge Library for offering me this opportunity to carry out my work experience here.


By Ahmed, on work experience at Uxbridge Central Library 23-27 February.

Staff Review: The Captain’s Daughter by Leah Fleming


This is a tale that spans three generations, as well as the Atlantic.

Fact and fiction cross lines throughout the book. During this book I felt compelled to go online and search out some of the characters and storylines. I didn’t know for example that the only statue of Captain Smith is located in Litchfield which is just north of Birmingham. Why there? We do get an answer, but is it true?

The story also includes other famous figures like  the ‘unsinkable’ Molly Brown. Her part in this story takes us along the route of  the suffragettes, and the struggle for woman to have a voice and an opinion. There really are so many interesting characters, and quite a few story lines entwined throughout. These days we don’t hold strict values about class, back then the divide between rich and poor was vast.

I feel the author has completed her task well. This is such a tragic tale we needed the book to be written with feeling. Leah fleming has achieved this for me.

I can’t really imagine how a person’s dreams can be completely shattered as they would have been after that terrible night.  The author writes in a way that  helps us to visualise how lives can also be rebuilt, and life goes on, even if not fully. I think we would all carry scars that would be difficult to heal had we lived through that terrifying night in April 1912.

On the positive side, the story shows us how  relationships can be built with sometimes  very fragile foundations, some of these would last a lifetime, and we learn that good things can come out of bad.

A thoroughly worthwhile read.

By Barbara

Book shop ‘mystery’ solved

The Northwood ‘scrapbooks’ of Francis Edwards

If any of you love searching for second hand books in London, you will know these two shops – Daunt Books (83-84, Marylebone High Street) and Francis Edwards (72, Charing Cross Road). I have been a regular patron myself for many years.



We hold at Hillingdon Local Studies the six finely bound scrapbooks of a Northwood bookseller also called Francis Edwards covering mainly the 1900s and 1910s. The scrapbooks – over 700 pages of them – are a fascinating insight into his interests and the life of early suburbia. Two volumes are devoted to the First World War.




We had always thought his business was a Northwood one. But one single document reveal’s his shop’s address as 83a, Marylebone High Street. A quick Google Image search revealed that Daunt Books, with its unique interior, was once Francis Edwards’ shop. The window in the older photo suggests the shop was opened in 1855 – the very year that the current Francis Edwards business, now in Charing Cross Road, began. Apparently our Francis Edwards was no minor local book dealer but the founder of a minor antiquarian book ’empire’ – and we would never have known if we hadn’t stumbled on that address.

Check out Francis’s scrapbooks for yourself at Hillingdon Local Studies, 1-5 weekdays, 9.30-5.30 Saturdays, no appointment needed.

By Paul – Local Studies





Harefield’s Ghost Line


Two Harefield Light Railway Scrapbooks Tell the Story of Harefield’s Ghost Line

From 1921 to 1924 significant plans were made to construct a light railway between Uxbridge and Harefield, following the line of the Grand Junction Canal. In May 1922 the Department of Transport notified local landowners and tenants that their property would be affected; large scale plans were deposited with local authorities. And yet two years later those plans had come to nothing – in part due to the Metropolitan Railway Company, which saw the line as a serious freight competitor.


The story of Harefield’s ghost line is told in two scrapbooks compiled by the Local Development and Light Railway Company, the firm behind the project. They contain over 400 pages of letters, news cuttings, orders and resolutions, and lists of deposited plans.

A must for railway enthusiasts (and any student of ‘what might have been’), they were donated to Hillingdon Local Studies Service this week and are accompanied by historian Keith Piercy’s history of the railway (complete with maps and photographs).


By Paul – Local Studies

Treasures in the Local Archive

Anyone interested in the history of Uxbridge should read this!

untitledHillingdon Local Studies Service on Level 6 of Uxbridge Library holds a unique record of life in the town around 1850. ‘Peregrinations of a Kiddy’ was written by Uxbridge man Thomas Strutt in 1873. As far as we know, Thomas was born about 1835, youngest child of a family of twelve, and went to Mrs Clinton’s School for Girls and Boys, roughly where Debenhams is today.

In this 60 page essay he remembers walking up and down the High Street as a boy. He describes in detail every shop, pub, house and alleyway – the Chequers Inn, where the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry band played nightly, the shops where he bought peppermint or lemon black-jacks, the cottages in Bonsey’s Yard where he and his friends went ghost hunting.

peregrinations-of-a-kiddy037He remembers buying fish and chips, oysters and toys, at the Market House; and attending church upstairs among the straw bales, the hymns accompanied by a viol and clarinet. In his words, the people of Uxbridge come to life – from the grocer who failed to woo his neighbour’s daughter by throwing almond cake over the garden wall to a local eccentric with a photographic memory for birthdays.

Thomas’s Uxbridge is familiar and strange – take an unfortunate accident with a bucket of whitewash accompanied by an outburst of bad language, or the May Day parade, when the town’s chimney sweeps dressed as girls and danced around a leafy pyramid known as ‘Jack in the Green’ – a once common tradition lost to us today.


The ‘Peregrinations’ describes a town more lively and colourful than you might imagine. It is a riveting good read and a wonderful resource for the local and family historian, or even the quietly curious. It is available without appointment in the Local Studies Room (open weekdays 1-5, Saturdays 9.30-5.30).


By Paul – Local Studies.

Thank you for reading!

Literary Challenge #12 Mystery or Thriller




Hillingdon Libraries Staff very last challenge of 2016 was to read a mystery or thriller in the month of December. Whether it was something that was steeped in either genre or a combination of the two was fine. But what really is the difference?


According to International Best-Selling Author Joe Goldman a Mystery is a “novel built around a secret and usually asks the question “Who?” Something has already happened – a jewel has been stolen, a person has been murdered – and both the reader and the hero know about it.”

Whereas, in a thriller “a reader usually asks the question ‘How?’ and is propelled through the story by action. Both the reader and the hero of a thriller novel already know who’s responsible for the crime.”

Do you agree or disagree? Or maybe somewhere in between? Let us know in the comments below.

Below are a few staff reviews – unfortunately due to the holiday period we only had a few but they are all of startlingly good quality!


1.  The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

39This work is traditionally thought of as a fast-paced thriller, or ‘shocker’ as the parlance of Buchan’s day would term it. This is true, in that it is short (c100 pages only), written in a plainish, accessible & colloquial prose style in the main, & runs through a series of episodes or adventures which constitute the somewhat-threadbare & impoverished plot.

There is more to the story than that, though, as it is an ‘ironic’ travelogue, taking in the bustle of London, the glens & hills of lowland Scotland, & finally Kent & the North Foreland as parts of the hunt-&-pursuit theme. The narrative is also everywhere steeped with Buchan’s own experiences of South Africa, the upper echelons of the political Establishment, & echoes of the Scottish literary past, especially Stevenson’s Kidnapped (186, set in the mid c18).

The central character, Richard Hannay, is a typical gentleman hero/self-effacing character from this period, another Everyman figure who continuously doubts that he is up to the challenge of the evading his bloodthirsty enemies & saving Europe from Armageddon. In fact, at the climax of the tale, his ‘victory’ over his dastardly German foes is qualified by the fact that The Great War does indeed break out: “Three weeks later, as all the world does know, we went to war. I joined the New Army the first week…But I had done my best service, I think, before I put on khaki.” [10.111].

Unfortunately/fortunately, depending on what one wants from a mystery thriller-shocker, there is no love interest at all, & this is something that the various film versions (1935, 1958, 1978) tried to address with limited success. No doubt Buchan thought – if he did, even? – that a heroine or femme fatale would distract from the high seriousness of ‘1914 & All That’, & Hannay seems curiously an asexual beast as a result.

Anyway, the book is a ripping yarn & classic to boot, & the novella cannot include everything that a triple-decker C19 novel might have, or course. Buchan was well aware of this, & played to his strengths rather than took chances by experimenting with the genre.

5 out of 5 stars

By Len – Harefield Library


2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins



Meh – this was a huge deal a year or so ago, when every girl on the train seemed to be reading it, and of course it’s now a film.

Having found Gone Girl a very satisfying thriller, I thought perhaps this was a genre that might yield more goodness to me. The Girl on the Train, though, is pretty thin stuff. Whilst I felt a lot of sympathy for the main character, I didn’t like any of them and I wasn’t too intrigued by the central mystery. That said, I was gripped enough to read quickly and to the end, I read it with two reading groups who, although they felt similarly, had a lot to say about it, and the novel’s evocation of a dreary satellite-town suburbia (and the dark secrets it contains) was effectively done. I think I just wanted it to be a bit juicier.

3 out of 5 stars

By Darren – Uxbridge Library


3. I See You by Clare Mackintosh

i-see-youFirst question on everybody’s lips is always, “Is it as good as ‘I Let You Go’?” and the answer is always “Well, kind of.”

As with her previous thriller, you jump straight into the action and it is non-stop. A sympathetic female protagonist sees a picture of herself in a personal ad in the free newspaper that everyone reads on the tube. Cue, weird creepy stuff starting to happen all around her and more unnerving newspaper pictures.

There is another semi-main character who is in the investigative role, so the book has a dual narrative that has excellent pacing and just enough twists to keep you guessing. For those who are familiar with London transport and travelling on the tube everyday then this is creepy AF! The premise of this novel is horrifying and I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t tried it already. For those who don’t travel on trains much I think this would be less thrilling and not really strike a cord.

Interestingly, the part of the novel that struck me most was when it focused on the police investigator, who of course has a troubled past, and how she copes with the stress of the job when it all rings a bit too close to home. There was an interesting comment on post-traumatic stress that I found quite insightful where the young investigator is told about a horrific traffic accident and who, after the event, suffered the most. The answer surprised me and revealed an honest life and experience in the police force that is one of  Mackintosh’s aces up her sleeve.

Worth reading.

4 out of 5 stars

By Lara – Harefield Library


Thanks so much for reading and we look forward to hearing about all the books that you’ve read in 2017.