First Chapter Friday

Every Friday a teacher from our school will be sharing with you the opening chapter of a book they love.

Even as an adult I think there is something really magical about being read to. That’s why every week we will be sharing the opening of a book that we enjoy with you.

The books we share can be accessed in our school library when we return together as a school community so remember to keep a note of your favourite.

Return to this page each Friday for the latest book.

Stay safe.

Book 12: Friday, 23 April, 2021

‘Shug’ by Jenny Han

Read by Miss R Reed

“Shug – short for sugar, but not as sweet. Revisiting this book for First Chapter Friday was like coming back to an old friend. Annemarie “Shug” Wilcox goes through the difficulties most teenagers go through: negative body image, hopeless love life, and a troubled home life. She faces these problems head on and comes out of the other end stronger. I have laughed, cried, and rejoiced throughout this book watching Annemarie learn about life and grow into a young woman. This is a book that has stayed with me forever and has always reminded me that being ‘perfect’ isn’t the best!”

Book 11: Friday, 26 March, 2021

‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens

Read by Mr C Knowles

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is one of the most beloved works of 19th-century literature, and the story’s enormous popularity helped make Christmas a major holiday in Victorian Britain. When Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in late 1843, he had ambitious purposes in mind, yet he could never have imagined the profound impact his story would have.

Dickens had already achieved great fame, yet his most recent novel wasn’t selling well and he feared his success had peaked. Indeed, he faced some serious financial problems as Christmas 1843 approached.

Beyond his own worries, Dickens was keenly attuned to the profound misery of the working poor in England. A visit to the grimy industrial city of Manchester motivated him to tell the story of greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, who would be transformed by the Christmas spirit.

Dickens rushed “A Christmas Carol” into print by Christmas 1843, and it became a phenomenon.

This week our Foundation Governor ‘Craig Knowles’ shares with us what has to be one of the mst famous opening chapters in Engish litertature.

Enjoy!”

Book 10: Friday, 19 March, 2021

‘House of Leaves’ by Mark Z Danielewski

Read by Mr J Jones

“Every Friday a teacher from our school will be sharing with you the opening chapter of a book they love. This week I’m reading ‘House of Leaves’ by Mark Z. Danielewski. Everything about this book drew my attention from the way the pages are laid out i.e. text packed into the corner or just a word in the centre of the page for a chunk of the book, to the cover being shorter than the rest of the book, how colour is part of the structure, to the footnotes being another story. The book isn’t the only piece of the puzzle due to his sister Poe doing an album which is linked to the book, a track from that album was on my favourite game called Alan Wake which made me find out about this book. It’s worth reading if you want something unique to read but like most readers have said, to get the full experience, get the remastered full-colour edition. Enjoy!!”

Book 9: Friday, 12 March, 2021

‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak

Read by Mr W Wisniewski

“I love the Book Thief! Not only does the book illustrate the power of words but also the power of history due to its setting in Nazi Germany. The novel is narrated by Death who becomes fascinated with Liesel Meminger, and when you read it you will see why.

When I first read it the first words ‘You are going to die’ immediately sold me and by the end, my heartstrings had truly been tugged at!”

Enjoy! 

Book 8: Friday, 5 March, 2021

‘Heroes’ by Robert Cormier

Read by Mr G Richards

“Robert Cormier’s own personal experiences of growing up during war time in America have influenced so much of his writing, none more so than probably his most famous piece of work- ‘Heroes’. This career defining novella follows the aftermath of World War Two and how a variety of characters struggle to cope with the readjustment to normal everyday life, especially the protagonist and narrator, Francis.

This is one of my favourite books because it deals with a period of history that I find so fascinating and important. I completed my university dissertation on ‘Fictional representations of the World Wars’ and this is certainly one of the most important, if not necessarily well known texts, of the genre. It is also an important work as Cormier is clearly reflecting on issues that are so prevalent in modern society, even though the text is set almost 80 years ago.”

Book 7: Friday, 26 February, 2021

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ by Guillermo Del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Read by Mr F Basketfield

“People often think that fairy-tales are just for children as bed-time stories. Pan’s Labyrinth isn’t that kind of fairy-tale. Based off of Guillermo Del Toro’s film of the same name, this book written by Del Toro and Cornelia Funke is a beautiful creation that fills its reader with wonder as well as chilling them to the bone. This story is one that will stick with you long after you have read it.”

Book 6: Friday, 12 February, 2021

‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway

Read by Mr N Hanna

“Some books stop you in your tracks and remain with you for a lifetime.

The Old Man and The Sea is one of those books: a very short story but one that explores our most fundamental emotions: friendship, pride, success, failure and dreams. 

Ernest Hemingway was a Nobel Prize-winning author and there is something so unique and so incredibly powerful about his precise, minimalist and seemingly-straightforward writing style which draws you in and keeps you in until the end.”

Book 5: Friday, 5 February, 2021

‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Read by Mr D O’Connor

“My First Chapter Friday selection was an easy one, I’ve enjoyed a Sherlock Holmes short story since I was gifted “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” many years ago and took the book away with me on holiday. I must have ready each short story three times on that holiday alone.  It is difficult to give a single reason why I enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great sleuth so much; I love the backdrop of 19th Century London, the topsy-turvy relationship Holmes has with his companion Dr Watson & the often erratic nature of his methods of investigations really grip me every time. Each story is chronicled and told by Dr Watson, which allows these stories to be told from a point of view that has close and intimate access to the mind of Sherlock Holmes.

The real pleasure from any crime-solving story is the way that the clues unravel and the mystery is solved in the concluding chapters. This is where the genius of Sherlock Holmes shines through, Doyle’s writing always threading together everything that you’ve read to put the perfect jigsaw into place, simultaneously shocking you whilst also making the whole mystery always seem so obvious once it has been laid out. I have always admired the humility of Holmes, never wanting to take payment or credit for solving these crimes, simply wanting to test his superior mind and quench his thirst for the unusual and unsolvable crime. You can see why this character has had so many TV and Blockbuster movie make-overs in recent years.”

Book 4: Friday, 29 January, 2021

‘Knowledge of Angels’ by Jill Paton

Read by Mrs K Williams

“I have chosen to read the first chapter of Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh. The book is about whether the knowledge of God is innate.  Are we born with it or do we learn it as we get older.   

It is one of my all-time favourite books, and in fact the only book I have ever read more than once.  I first came across it when I sat my mock English literature exam; one of the questions featured a page from the book and the question was about what would make the reader want to read on.  I found the question very easy as I did want to read more!  The excerpt really intrigued me.  My mom had a copy of the book so I started reading it that night.   I hope you enjoy it!”

Book 3: Friday, 22 January, 2021

‘The Thief of Always’ by Clive Barker

Read by Mr I Smith

“I’m sure everyone has had a time when they are bored, and wanted to be taken away to a magical place -especially during lockdown! Well this story reveals what happens when someone makes that promise, but it’s not quite what you expect it to be…

This book came out when I was 12 years old, and it seemed like it was written specifically for me, taking me on an exciting (and at times quite frightening) journey. It’s a book I loved as child, and love to re-read as an adult, and I cannot wait to share it with my sons. In fact, I’m tempted to start reading it again now I’ve finished the first chapter!”

Book 2: Friday, 15 January, 2021

‘I Am Legend’ by Richard Matheson

Read by Mr M Newman

“This week I’m reading ‘I Am Legend’ by Richard Matheson. You may have heard of the movie of the same name starring Will Smith, but it has actually been made into a movie a total of three times (the others are The Last Man on Earth, made in 1962 and The Omega Man, made in 1971). None of the movie versions do justice to the story.

I’ve read this book at least ten times, and I enjoyed it as much every time; it’s not a happy story, but I like it because it forces you to re-examine your own opinion about what is normal and what is not.”

Book 1: Friday, 8 January, 2021

‘Daz 4 Zoe’ by Robert Swindells

Read by Mrs Taylor-Hamblet

“I’m starting off with ‘Daz 4 Zoe’ by Robert Swindells. If you’re in year 8 or over you’ll probably have read ‘Stone Cold’ and this book is written by the same author. I first read this book at secondary school and I can remember my English teacher Mrs Nichols reading it to my class.”

Featured image by Stas Knop from Pexels

Teacher of English | + posts

Mrs E Taylor-Hamblett teaches English at St Thomas More Catholic School. She is also Literacy Lead Across Curriculum.