The recent report by the Libraries all party parliamentary group came to the conclusion that school libraries and school librarians are a good thing.
I tweeted the following: If you want to raise literacy standards in schools, isn’t a school library and a librarian who knows about books an obvious place to start?
I’ve been surprised at how often that has been retweeted – it seems so blooming obvious to me!
I visit many schools. Some really don’t have a library at all! Some have a few tatty books in the corner. Some have wonderful libraries – usually supported by tireless parents.
I often visit international schools. Many of them physically build the school around the library, which becomes a central hub of learning. I know they have pots of money and dedicated intelligent parents with time on their hands to help out, but I think they show what happens when you take libraries seriously.
These libraries are run by people called Teacher Librarians. Yes, they check books in and out and do all the library stuff, but they also teach about which books are good to read and they teach how to research. They help children to find things out in between and after lessons.
Teacher Librarians know their stuff, they know which books are new, cool and inspiring. They know the right book that will get a particular child reading. They are also whizzes when it comes to researching the internet. They are Librarians – they know how to find stuff out!
Teachers in primary schools have so much going on. They have little spare time to read children’s books to recommend to their children. This is where a dedicated Librarian comes in.
If we are serious about raising literacy standards, I presume that means we want children to be able to read beyond a standard piece of text on a screen – to read anything freely and confidently.
Literacy only comes through hard work and practice. Hard work and practice means reading a lot. A good book makes you want to read – the hard work becomes a pleasure.
If there is no one to recommend brilliant books and inspire children to try new things, how are they ever going to put in the hours to achieve a reasonable level of literacy?
If you have a school librarian, someone to inspire you and keep you interested, then you need the books on hand to read – preferably in the well-stocked school library – the beating heart of the school.
I am now going to make my ShooRaynerDrawing Channel aimed more at a more mature audience of students, professionals and serious hobby artists, so I won’t be putting many videos from that channel on this website from now on.
If you want to keep up with that channel and more go to ShooRaynerDrawing.com instead.
I’ll now be working on monthly themes, which you may like to join in with.
I’ll be doing simpler primary/elementary aimed drawings on this website through my DrawStuffRealEasy channel.
So, to get things off to a new start, here is a new Drawstuffrealeasy video – How to draw goalposts requested by twitter tweep @Tony_TheDoctor
While they draw, they are improving their hand/eye co-ordination skills, learning about the thing they are drawing and building up a story.
When I show a class of children how to draw, there are a couple of minutes silence, when I’ve finished, as they catch up and put the finishing touches to their masterpiece.
I love this moment. I wait for the hand to go up.
“Please Miss, can I draw a city in the back ground?”
“Of course you may,” I say, and gently remind them I’m a mister not a miss!
“And can I draw an aeroplane in the sky?” asks another child.
“You can draw anything you like.” I smile, sweetly and innocently and nonchalantly add, “You could build up a whole story if you like.”
The blue touch paper has been lit. Stand back and watch what happens.
Their original drawings are soon surrounded with incidental detail, patterns, backgrounds, enemies, explosions, love-hearts jelly fish – you name it.
Each child is building up a story.
“You can put some words in there if you like,” I tell them, adding a speech bubble or a caption to my drawing.
By the end of the lesson a class full of first drafts have been completed. The children who would normally be staring out of the window when asked to write, have their story organised and ready to go.
For many, myself included, the pictures aren’t a pretty thing that is added on at the end if there is time, the pictures are what it is all about. Its the words that are the embellishment. Words are decoding clues for the thick kids who can’t draw!
We are not all wired up the same way. The children who do words well, grow up to be the teachers, because the visual kids are excluded. Each new generation of education experts becomes more word biased than the one before and further removed from the visual.
Once there were art teachers and art rooms. The art room was a refuge for the visually and practically-minded. Now art seems to have become an academic subject to be written about. Sadly, examiners can only tick facts and not make subjective decisions.
Years ago, before photocopiers were invented, children used hard, shiny toilet paper to trace maps and pictures into their exercise books. The line was traced, then reinforced on the back with pencil, then traced again onto the paper and then redrawn over the faint image that had been transferred.
The image was drawn at least four times. As we know, repetition is the essence of learning. If you trace or draw the plans, maps and illustrations in your exercise book, you remember.
If you draw freehand, you are so intensely involved ion the process that, again, the message is deeply impresses, especially if the picture has to be planned and re-drawn to get it right.
Colouring in a worksheet is just filling in time – mere crowd control.
If you are wondering why half the children in a class don’t write and don’t retain information, maybe they are visually minded. Or maybe they see the world in numbers or in dance movements instead of words. Maybe their Fridays are lovely shade of orange – maybe they think literacy tastes of lemons.
We are all wired up differently.
Throw away the photocopier. Burn the worksheet. Let children illustrate their own work. The message and the lesson will be ingrained deeply in their subconscious.
Maybe, once in a while, start a literacy lesson with drawing – if there is time left at the end of the lesson, then… let them write the story as a treat!
This article first appeared on the Awfully Big Blog Adventure
Learn to trace with authority with this video!
I had an email last night from Laura in Shetland who’s says, “I’ve just finished Dragon Gold, which I really enjoyed. One question, why did you change Harri to Harry on p119? Or were you just checking we would read the book?”
Oops! I don’t know how that happened! Well, actually, yes I do. A glaring typo like that can stare you in the face as the author and you just don’t see it. Similarly, editors and copy readers can skim over it and not see it either. There are some typos which are destined to make it through to the first edition!
Why did I choose a different spelling of Harry? How do authors choose the names of their characters. This is how Harri came to be:
I’d had the idea for Dragon Gold floating around in my head for some time, but couldn’t quite get it to work. It needed another ingredient. Stories are like that.
When Firefly Press, the first and only children’s publisher in Wales asked me to be one of their first authors, I was thrilled. The invitation was the missing ingredient. Firefly had been asked by the Welsh Government to commission stories set in contemporary Wales but written in English.
I’d not thought to set the book in Wales before. Wales has a Red Dragon as it’s symbol – the Ddraig Goch. The setting was what I needed, everything fell into place in my mind. Now to choose the name of my hero.
I wanted it to be contemporary, so I Googled popular boy’s names in Wales. At the top of the list was Harri! Perfect, I thought. It reads the same in English and Welsh and is very contemporary – Prince Harry was doing something manly on the TV news at the time!
More used to spelling the name the traditional, English way, one or two Harrys slipped through. I imagine I was caught up in the story and my fingers did the writing on their own – writing is a strange business when you are in the flow. Spellings don’t worry me at that point, they can always be sorted out later. Anyway, I edit voraciously and continuously while I’m writing.
I’m pretty sure I even did a spell check to make sure there weren’t any Harrys floating around in there. The trouble with editing is that miss-spellings can enter right near the end of the editing process, when everyone thinks the text is clean and sorted.
I did stop for a moment to wonder why Harri might be a popular name. I assumed it was to do with Prince Harry – who surely has a lot of influence on the popularity of the name – and moved on. It never crossed my mind that it might be down to one Harry Potter! (Assume makes an Ass out of U and Me!)
Neither did it cross my mind that Harri might himself be wizard material! That possibility grew as the story evolved – the Welshness of the story taking me off in a new direction.
I’m hoping Harri’s story will continue at least into a trilogy – there is a path of destiny calling him onwards. I’ll have to make sure that the spell check is done just before the texts go to the printers next time, (and maybe we can sort out page 119 in the next edition).
But never mind all this… what does Laura really think about the book? She says:
“This is the first book that I didn’t want to put down.”
Thanks for that, Laura! Order a signed copy from me and get a free, fabulous A3 poster – while stocks last.
Also available on Kindle
I’ve been working on getting my ShooRaynerStoryTime Channel sorted out. For some reason my channel name didn’t work properly, but my YouTube channel Manager, Lynda, seems to have got it sorted out.
So this is the latex video to be added to the channel. I did it a while ago so it’s time I started making new story videos. With the story comes a how to draw millie video too!
Bombassa is a lazy but loveable rhino who would rather lie in bed all day, drinking tea and dunking biscuits. Millie is a sweet and sensible bird who want’s Bombassa to buck up his ideas. Together they make a great pair.
Yikes! Auntie Daz is coming for tea, but Bombassa’s only chair is very wobbly. It’s time for a bit of DIY – but soon the chair is wobblier than ever!
” Funny with great pictures”
Make sure you learn to draw Millie! http://youtu.be/hQSyoKGjpSE
Make sure you are subscribed for more Shoo Rayner Stories
Did you know that I have story videos on YouTube
Have a look at this creepy retelling of the old Bluebeard story from my Scaredy Cats series
Now you’ve seen it why not buy a signed copy from Shoo?
I did a lot of sketching during my recent trip to Amsterdam. I had a wonderful time. Talking with my friends in the evening, as we discussed what we’d seen that day, I was drawing away happily when I realised that everyone was watching, but they were involved in the drawing and the conversation continued even though I was, i suppose, not 100% concentrating on the conversation. But no one felt I was excluding myself or that they were excluded. We agreed it was a good thing to do for everyone.
So, let go of your inhibitions and draw, your friends will want to be involved helping you remember things and probably wanting to be drawn themselves!
I went to Amsterdam the week before last and did a lot of drawing in my sketchbook. There’s not a lot about Amsterdam in the book but there is a lot about the people and their bicycles as well as inspiration from the art galleries and museums.
Have a look inside and see what interests me when I visit another country! You’ll also see me drawing in a bar having supper in the evening!
At 153 pages, this is the longest book I’ve ever written and one of the very first published by Wales’ very first children’s book publisher – Firefly Press.
Harri would like to know what it feels like to win, just once. Ryan always wins everything. Harri has no chance because Ryan’s Dad does everything for him! He has no chance, that is, until someone walks into his mum’s shop. Someone almost invisible!
This story began forming in my mind as I went round schools and would notice the children’s entries for making competitions. Some were amazingly brilliant – especially for five year olds. It’s so obvious when parents do the work for their children.
Then I remembered helping my son on a couple of making projects and how I would anxiously wait to hear “how I had done”! I thought about how easy it would be to get a little over involved in one’s children’s school work and so, Ryan’s Dad appeared on the page.
Mr Davies, Harri’s teacher, was great fun to write. I knew that he sounded just like Rob Brydon, the comedian. All I had to do was think, “How would Rob Brydon say this?” and the writing flowed. I was in the green room at the Hay Literature Festival recently, when Rob Brydon himself walked into the room. Without thinking, I pressed a copy into his hands – I hope he enjoys it!
I set out to write a single story but, I suppose after 27 years of writing series books, I know there is a lot more to come. I’m writing my synopses for the next two books. I think it’s a trilogy, but knowing me I’ll leave it open to go on afterwards.
As a bit of fun, I thought I would show you how to draw several different moustaches, 16 in fact. You could draw them all or choose one and adapt the drawing to make a card for your dad!
If you want more ideas, try looking at my Father’s Day drawing ideas playlist