Better than the zoo?
22nd December 2011 - 12 Midnight Emily Best
The inside of Foyles is what Google would look like if you could see it, say the pupils of Woolwich Polytechnic School
Think back to the best school trip you went on. A museum? A factory? What if your teacher had taken you to look round a bookshop - doesn't sound like the most exciting day out, does it? But what if the bookshop you were going to had five floors, positioned in London's buzzing Charing Cross Road, and you were given the job of choosing a book for your library? Still no?
So maybe don't think of it as a bookshop so much as a doorway to any number of worlds and adventures. Bookshops aren't just shelves of dusty Dickens - whether you want to train falcons, master molecular cooking or build a time machine, we've got the goods. If you love reading fiction, great, but if you don't, there are plenty of other places to start.
A group of Year 11s from a school in South London popped in recently to choose books for their school. Coming to a bookshop as big as Foyles can be a little daunting (and, to be fair, we did make them climb three floors before they even took their coats off) and for us, well, we don't mind admitting we were a little nervous. Sixteen-year-olds are quite tall and there were 21 of them. But once we got them wandering around the shop, looking at all the different sections, everyone became a lot more relaxed, lots of questions were asked (and not just about the piranhas in our children's department) and suddenly the excitement started to grow. By the end everyone had picked at least one book (several even bought their own to take home) and the selection they picked was amazing - ranging from filmmaking to football coaching.
But don't take our word for it - some of the boys were kind enough to write back to us the following week to tell us what they thought:
Our visit to Foyles - Woolwich Polytechnic School
None of us had ever seen such a range of books before and were gobsmacked about the vast array of titles. But more than just numbers, the books were so well organised and we believe that we would have been able to find a book about anything we could ever want to know about. The inside of Foyles is what Google would look like if you could see it. Some of us discovered things that we had never thought about before, from theories about running to psychology. The best thing about a book shop is that you can actually see the books, you don't have to know titles or even authors to find something that you might want to read. Walking in the doors and seeing all the shelves and shelves of books was just as impressive as looking at a new phone or a famous building.
The staff (Emily and Danni in particular) were so friendly and welcoming - no 'fear' of us as teenagers. The staff on the shop floor were really helpful too and so passionate about their particular speciality subjects. They knew where things were and how to direct us to what we needed.
We will all definitely be going back there again: we have discovered our passion for books, which has surprised us all and our English teacher! On the journey home, most of us were reading or talking about some of the titles we had seen. We look forward to the books we have chosen for our school library arriving at school and also hope to go back to Foyles before we finish school in June.
So, next time you're in a bookshop, think about all the different adventures it could take you on.
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If you're a teacher and would like to bring some students to pick books for your school we would love to hear from you! Please contact Danni or Emily for more information.
Click here to watch a recent Channel 4 News report on teenage reading trends, including footage of the Children's Department at Foyles Charing Cross Road.
This is our last blog of 2011. Thank you for reading and for all your comments on our Facebook page. We'll back on 1st January with our tips for the best fiction being published in the first half of 2012.