It’s #readforempathy day today (June 11) in many libraries – encouraging people to read stories that will help understand others’ point of view.

The idea is: ‘read stories, build empathy, make a better world’.

Here are some ILC suggestions for some great reads that might open your mind to others’ experiences:

Boys Don’t Knit – T.S.Easton

One boy’s reaction to having been a criminal, and his rehabilitation.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher

A close look at a family surviving the death of a child, and the way a close-knit group of people can fall apart.

Am I Normal Yet – Holly Bourne

An account of life post-mental health crisis, with a girl trying to stay sane in new circumstances. And a dash of romance too.

Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

Peer pressure, non-conformity and bullying are all explored in this bewitching account of American high school life. With added ukulele.

Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
What if it were white people that history had suppressed and insulted, rather than black? Noughts and Crosses turns the world on its head, and makes you think.

The Bone Sparrow – Zana Fraillon
Take a look at life from the perspective of a refugee, born in an immigration detention centre. Understand forces that might have driven someone to leave their country and come to yours.

Literary Periodic Table

Keep an eye out for the new literary elements displayed around school. These are a great way to find a new read. Which element do you fancy reading from next? Romance, mystery, crime, dystopia, comedy or something else?

Which element will you start with?

Whatever you pick, flip open the card to find a recommendation and bring the card to the ILC to borrow the book inside!

Trope: Forensic Phlebotinum

“Phlebotinum: an impossible or imaginary device which is used to move forward the plot of a TV show, book or film, especially in science fiction and fantasy. It’s science, it’s magic, it’s strange things unknown to science or magic. The reader does not know how Phlebotinum would work and the creators hope he or she doesn’t care.”


Forensic Phlebotinum – This is a device used in storytelling to “explain” to the non-science professional how they have solved the crime.

Great examples of Forensic Phlebotinum are such things as “bitter almonds”. This is considered the only possible way to detect cyanide poisoning on a corpse in a story – despite the fact that in real life very few people would have ever smelled bitter almonds – a different smell to that of sweet almonds, but difficult to tell apart to the untrained nose.

Another example you may have come across is the “enhance button”. A device where, no matter how grainy or blurry the original video or photograph, the super enhanced version is perfect quality, much higher definition, and able to identify a subject by the weirdly unique pattern of ear hair they possess. Clearly, a pixel is a pixel, and not much can be done to “enhance” one other than make it bigger.

More of this garbled version of real life can be found when a character stumbles across evidence of a super-rare bird feather that could only possibly have come from an area one square mile across on that particular part of that specific country. Or the dirt on their shoe can only be found in the front gardens of that one and only street. Or maybe they found pollen that is only transferred by bees from that one farm so the crime must have happened there… While there is a certain amount of truth in this, Phlebotinum exaggerates this to ridiculous proportions.

So there you have it, Forensic Phlebotinum can be a great device in storytelling, but tread lightly and do your research first before using, or believing it!

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Review by Mr Parker Media Technician

Forget Twilight. Forget Queen of the Damned or Blade; Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is still the best of the bunch.

Written in 1897, Dracula tells the tale of the titular vampire’s journey from his eerie castle in Romania to his new hunting ground in England, aided unwittingly by English solicitor Jonathan Harker. When Dracula arrives on the Yorkshire coast, Jonathan’s wife Mina and her best friend Lucy begin falling victim to strange occurrences in the dead of night, resulting in peculiar bite marks on Lucy’s neck. Once the wound is brought to the attention of doctor Van Helsing, the measure of what’s at stake becomes clear.

The first thing that struck me about the book is the way in which it is written. The story is told through a fictitious compilation of diary entries, newspaper clippings and correspondences between the book’s central characters. Bram Stoker uses this narrative technique to great effect, in order to build tension.

For example, the local newspapers of Whitby report on a spectacular storm hitting the shore, which just happens to coincide with the arrival of a strange European sailing ship – the crew of which has mysteriously vanished. In the next chapter, Stoker gives us the captain’s log, which goes into more detail about the terrible events that plagued the ship’s voyage. The entire book is written in this fashion, and so it’s almost as if the reader has to piece together the narrative themselves, rather than being ‘told’ the story by the author.

Interestingly, despite the book’s multiple viewpoints, the central character is arguably that of Mina, who is probably the person I and many readers would empathise with the most. She is the voice I reason among her warm-blooded male counterparts, and it is Mina that ultimately proves to be the key to Dracula’s down fall.

All-in-all the book is a gripping read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested Victorian literature, mystery thrillers and, of course, vampires!

Work Experience & Careers

This week Year 10 students will be away on their work experience.

This week is a great opportunity for students to find out how the world of work really, well, works.

But what if you don’t know what you want to do? There’s no need to wait until Year 10 to research a career path, you can start as early as you’d like. Better yet, you can change your mind at any point! But, whichever route you’re looking at, the more you know, the better informed your decision will be.

Check out the UCAS website here; you can search various careers and also take a quick careers quiz to help you understand your personality type and what may suit you career-wise.

The National Careers Service has a huge amount of information about different career paths and jobs, and is fully searchable if you click through to “Explore Careers”.

Prospects is another website that can help you narrow down your options. Browsing by sector can be helpful if you just don’t know what jobs are out there in a particular area.

St Laurence can help too. Did you know that Mrs Smith in the careers office can arrange a meeting for you to talk to our career advisor at any time?

You’ll also find a wide range of prospectuses in the ILC, not to mention a wide selection of books on various jobs, career areas and industries.

No matter what your interests, you’ll be sure to find something that fills you with excitement for your future.