As I write this week’s blog, I am sitting in my office decked out as a zebra from the final pages of Graeme Base’s beautifully illustrated book, Animalia, having just attended the Lowther Hall Literary Festival Assembly. Coinciding with national Book Week, the Literary Festival provides an opportunity to celebrate all things reading and writing and each year I enjoy seeing the girls interact with authors and immerse themselves in the worlds of the books they love as they undertake the special events and activities associated with the week. At our assembly this year, a number of the girls reflected on why they read, which prompted me to consider the same question! The answer, I realised, is multifaceted. One reason I read is because I am interested in people – getting inside the heads of different characters and following their evolution, their undoing or their coming of age has been a fascination for my whole life. I remember being enthralled by Alice and her colourful companions in Wonderland when my dad read me Lewis Carroll’s timeless tome when I was  six! I was equally rivetted by protagonist Elaine and her nemesis Cordelia in Margaret Attwood’s Cat’s Eye when I was in my thirties. Another reason I love reading is because of the way it can build our knowledge of the world. At the moment I have a book about whales on the go, and I have recently finished dipping into Not Just Lucky by Jamilla Rizvi, which has developed my thinking about the mindsets that women can sometimes bring to the world of work. When I looked back over the inspiration for my costume for the Literary Festival, the final page of Base’s Animalia, I realised that these pages had inspired in me an interest in exotic animals and a passion for conservation of their habitat. Reading really is a joy for me and I am delighted that many of our girls share a love of literature. As the adults in the equation, it continues to be important for us to share the habit of reading with the young people in our lives and to assist them to find material with which they can connect and by which they can be transported, inspired, informed or provoked! I certainly look forward to continuing to share the things I read with them.

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes