Reading Week 2021

Reading for both pleasure and academic pursuit is central to the Wycombe Abbey community and it has been a delight to dedicate a week to the wonders of literature, as we step back from preps and tests for our annual Reading Week.

This year’s iteration revolved around the rhythms and rhymes of poetry, with special guests Harry and Chris delivering a knockout show on Wednesday evening as the centrepiece of the week. Following a workshop with poetry declamation competition winners, the comedy jazz duo filled the Learning Arts Centre with laughter at their wonderful wordplay and improvisational skill, rapturous applause sending them off into the night. Continuing the poetry trend, Mr Lenton launched his new collection, The poor player, in Clarence Common Room on Thursday evening, performing a selection of poems in a celebration of the literature that has inspired him through the years and that continues to elicit such a joyous response in the classroom. Ably supported by Ms Bradley, who treated us to the debut performance of her competition-winning poem, and UVI pupils reading poems by Shakespeare, Plath and Frost, Mr Lenton raised money for one of the School’s chosen charities, Rape Crisis, by selling copies of the collection.

Pupils were also invited to try their hand at a new creative endeavour in the blackout poetry workshop, while activity packs were sent to all Boarding Houses to encourage book-related jollity! On Tuesday night, Joseph Elliott, author of the Shadow Skye series, came in to speak to LIV about reading, writing and the publishing industry. It was a fantastic and stimulating event, which provided an enthralling insight into how books are published. The LIVs really enjoyed the talk and many were inspired to order a copy of one of his books to read.

Having missed Reading Week last year due to their UV mock exams, we were delighted to be able to treat the LVI to free copies of the novel The Silk House by Kayte Nunn. Alongside this incredible offer, free bookmarks were made available to those who borrowed a new book to read for pleasure, and a couple of competitions – designing a ‘reading in autumn’ themed bookmark and guessing how many gummy ‘book worms’ are in the jar – encouraged further engagement.

To slightly misquote the classic Christmas song, ‘I wish it could be Reading Week every week’, and in many ways, of course, it can! This annual treat is such a wonderful reminder of why we make reading regularly a high priority at Wycombe Abbey and why we must make space and time to continue this essential habit alongside the many other rich experiences we offer pupils throughout their time at the School. May the memories of Reading Week 2021 live on and shape the months to come!

Mr Sam Lenton
Head of English