I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
Tag: school visit
I went to Brussels in Belgium on the Eurostar Train this week and I took my sketchbook with me. I thought it was a great way to share the experience with you as it is a record of my thoughts and things that catch my eye as I go along.
I was visiting the British International School in Brussels, which is in a wonderful old house full of Art Nouveau and Art Deco details. I had a great time there meeting the children, who come from all over the world, telling them stories and showing them how to draw stuff!
Thanks to everyone at the school for arranging the trip and making it both possible and memorable.
The Summer is here and that means that over the next few months hundreds of thousands of children will be visiting libraries up and down the land, borrowing books, reading them and getting small prizes for their effort. I remember the long summer holidays going on for ever. By the time I got back to school, I’d forgotten everything I’d learned the year before. The Summer reading challenge helps to keep up the habit of reading – the most important skill and person can learn in this world. Not analysis of text – reading – that means books and stories that make you laugh or cry or hyperventilate with fear.
I’m very proud to have been a part of the start of the Summer reading challenge. Andrea Reece was a brilliant Marketing Director at Hodder Children’s Books, whom I’d worked with previously, when she worked at Harper Collins. She came up with the idea of selling a “Leap into Reading” summer reading scheme to bookshop. He idea inadvertently pioneered the format of the Summer Reading Challenge we have all come to know and love. Dump Bins full of early readers were sold to bookshops. With each dump bin full of books came pencils, badges, posters and erasers, which were prizes for reading a book each week of the holidays. There was a passport that had to filled in to gain the next prize. Some libraries spotted the possibilities and bought the bins too. They started their own, individual summer reading schemes.
What were they to do the next year – well somewhere along over the next year, the Summer Reading Challenge got started and has carried on ever since.
I remember all this because my character, The Ginger Ninja, was leaping over the top of the dump bin and all the gifts had his smiling face all over them.
My readers will know that the Ginger Ninja has moved onto the 21st century, gracing the iPad with a built in video drawing lesson!and you can get a free story by joining my mailing list.
Good luck to all involved in the Summer Reading Challenge – I know it’s a lot of hard work, but I know that many Librarians look forward to those happy, smiling faces coming for the next book each week through the summer – and in many areas it has a quite profound effect in inspiring and maintaining reading proficiency through the long, long holiday.
I recently had a trip to Hull, where they have white telephone boxes, to Visit Libraries and Longhill Primary School – he’s a video about it
I had a wonderful afternoon with the infants at Warden Hill Primary School in Cheltenham today.
We had a load of fun telling stories and doing wonderful drawings. I took some very shaky photos of some of my favourite Cat and Dog drawings that were done by children in the Reception year. Sorry I couldn’t put them all in or Years one and two’s Whale drawing, but they were all fantastic! You can practice the drawings using these videos Cat Dog and Whale
Thanks for a great time everyone!
I went to Switzerland this week to visit L’Ecole Internationale Bilingue du Haut-Lac in the town of Vevey, which is the international headquarters of Nestle foods. Over two very busy days, I saw everyone in the infants and juniors and went up to the secondary department to talk to year sevens.
I’ve returned very tired and with a head full of cold but, as so often happens on these trips, a head full of ideas too. For me, the most exciting thing was to see everyone’s reaction to my new iPhone App, more of which later. The App went live on the iTunes store while I was away. I should probably have been attending to it, But I couldn’t remember my Apple Password!
We had great fun with Nursery, Reception and Year One, who are split into two cohorts on different sites, as it is a bilingual school. They had written a story about Mickey the Marmot, which I then illustrated for them. Over at the main school, Mickey had magically turned into Sally – some forceful girl editors involved there, I think – and had become an astronaut. So I gave her a spacesuit, earrings and handbag!
In a couple of my sessions I found it quite hard to concentrate, as the huge picture windows looked out over lake Geneva and every now and then A huge bird would swoop past. It was a very dark bird of prey, which I’m pretty sure was a Black Kite. I saw one dive down and catch a fish later and it looked exactly like this video at Arkive.com.
We had lots of stories and did lots of drawing and I had a great time. Many thanks to everyone for making it such a memorable trip. I shall have to do a How to draw Mickey the Marmot video soon!
What a great name – Clehonger – it’s a village to the west of Hereford and yesterday, Valentine’s Day, I visited the primary school for their Exciting Writing Week.The theme was Around The World, and I spent a bit of time trying to find around the world links to my books. Having done so, I hunted out some props from my visits to places I’ve lived or visited in my past that have inspired some of my books.
I talked about Viking Vik, who lives where my Norwegian Auntie has a summer house, and How the Rhioceros hot his skin, which is set somewhere around Aden, where I lived as a boy, and Axel Storm Jungle Fortress, which is set in a jungle very like one I visited on the Island of Guam. Japanese soldiers on Guam, that never surrendered until the 1970′s, were also an inspiration for this book.
I was interviewed by young journalists working on the school newspaper. I was flummoxed by one question, “Do you have any hobbies?”
Of course I don’t, Everything I do is my hobby! Thinking about it, with the children, I realised just how lucky I am. I think it is most people’s dream to be able to do what they enjoy most all day, and that’s pretty much what I get to do!
Thanks everyone for making it such a great day. I picked up a cold last week, so I hope I didn’t appear to be not working on all cylinders!
Melyndra Standring, who organised the event, and kindly looked after me, was hoping we may get twenty families signed up. It’s easy to get a class of children to come and sit down and listen to a story, but it’s quite different to get the children to organise parents and carers to come into school for the afternoon. By Wednesday morning, we were fearing the worst and thought that we would only have about ten families.
We were greeted at the school by a happy Bernadette Thomas who informed us that seventy five families were coming! Duh! Melyndra didn’t have enough paperwork and had to quickly photocopy some more forms! I had met quite a few of the children on previous visits to Rhyl Library and their teachers had reminded them and shown them the drawings I had done for them before. I think that preparation was the cause of such a success.
When all the forms were filled in and everyone was settled down, I told the Rudyard Kipling Just So Story of How the Whale got His Tale, that I’ve revised and re illustrated. Then I got everyone to have a go at drawing the whale – adults too! They were fabulous drawings. Many of the adult’s told me they hadn’t done any drawing since they left school – such a shame, and one of the reasons I do my drawing school.. I think adults are scared of drawing and making a fool of themselves but, like any other skill, they just need someone to show them how.
It was a very special afternoon for me, seeing all the families joining in – there were quite a few dads there too, which is quite unusual. Well done kids for nagging the grown-ups and getting them organised and into school for the afternoon. Grown-ups can be such hard work sometimes – eh?
Thanks to everyone who finally got this session organised. It was quite a few months in the making. Good luck with the rest of the project and have a great day out for all those who last the course!
(Jelly fish was on the beach. I forgot to take and photos of the event!)
I had a terrific start to a long week of school visits at St. Aidan’s Church of England Primary School, where I didn’t take a pictures or video! (I overheard a wonderful story in the staff room that involved dolls that gave me all sorts of ideas that I had to write down, but I’m not telling in case anyone else gets the idea!)
I spent the whole day telling stories and drawing pictures and having a great time. Reception did some fabulous drawings with me too. I love how young children draw. Sometimes their misreading of where a line should go is quite inspiring and makes me think about drawing differently.
Thanks for a great day everyone and I hope toy don’t have anything else blowing off the roof of the church, next door!
I had a great day on Wednesday. St Oswald’s School, Longton, Nr Preston, asked me to come and officially open their new library. At a time when so many libraries are under threat is is heartening to know there are still people who recognise the importance of Libraries and do something about it.
Lynette Little certainly has been hard at work with help from some of the children. The space used to be an outdoor passage, but it has been roofed and walled in and turned into a haven of calm. A huge fish tank hovers in the corner like the engine of the Tardis, ready to transport readers to other times and places.
There was a huge display of drawing, inspired by my drawing school. You can see them in the video. They are all fab and wonderful to see how children interpret my lessons. I particularly like the Ferrari.
Oh… and cakes in the Staff Room! Delicious! I particularly liked the lemon drizzle.
Thanks for a wonderful day everyone and I hope you all use and enjoy your wonderful new library and all the fabulous new books.
I’ve had a lovely morning today, helping Catherine Escott-Allen give prizes to the children of Forest View Primary School, which I visited on Monday. Catherine had worked with the children and gave them themes to write about. The best entries won their prizes today and I was particularly thrilled that every child and their family managed to make it to the celebration – I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that has had a 100% support before.
Maybe this is because Cinderford Library is in line for closure and those who came this morning have realised what they are possibly going to lose. The County Council’s own statistics show that Cinderford, which is an old mining town, is an area of multiple deprivation, also the Council has pledged to support vulnerable people. So, to show their support, they want to close the Library and the Mobile Libraries. I just can’t understand it. If ever there was a town that needs it’s Library, Cinderford is that town.
So, how great to see Mr Lyons, the Head of Forest View and Gemma White, the Literacy Co-ordinator working so closely with their local library. The school is working hard to push the love of reading for pleasure and Mr Lyons says it is paying off already. He can see a change in the children already, “a Buzz in the air!”
I think we take reading for granted these days. As adults that can read, we forget how hard it was to learn what is a truly astonishing skill. We think of it as a basic skill, but without the ability to read we would be lost in the modern world.
School can only go so far. It requires more than daily attendance at school to acquire the amazing skill that reading is. It needs parent’s and family to keep up the reading at home – to enjoy reading, and that means trips to the Library, where knowledgeable staff are on hand to help choose new books. No family can afford all the books it needs to create confident, capable readers.
And remember, when we are old and grey, we will be relying on today’s children to keep us. Do we want them to be clever and able to run the world for us in a way we would approve? Or do we want them slumped in front of video games, as the country and our culture slips slowly into the mire?
We expect far too much of schools these days. A teacher, with 30 children, can only build the scaffolding of their education. In the end, it is the children themselves, with their ability to read, and the skills of research and finding out that come with reading, that build upon that scaffolding. Without those skills, and without the library as their out-of-school resource, they are doomed.
Thank you Catherine and and Librarians and Teachers everywhere for what you do to promote reading for pleasure. It’s how children learn for themselves, to see above the horizon and view possible new futures they could never have known were available to them before.