Beast in the classroom, but nobody's panicking
Edinburgh's most multicultural school has found a unique way to welcome new students - a story book, in six different languages, written and illustrated by P6 children at the primary.
Three-quarters of the 300 students at Dalry Primary School speak English as a second language. But A Whole New World, which tells the story of Beast, a wolfboy from Mars whose wolfpack relocates to Earth, is designed to make them feel at home.
The book begins with Beast adjusting to life on Earth and the daunting prospect of joining a new school. He worries that the headteacher might be mean and that other children might make fun of his name, think he smells or laugh at his furry ears and tail.
When he arrives, however, he is greeted by a smiling headteacher. And in class Beast discovers the school is home to students from many different galaxies.
Written by P6 students, the book doubles as a colouring-in book and will be given to about 50 P1 children when they visit the school later this month. It was jointly funded by the school and the Scottish Book Trust through its Live Literature Funding programme.
The P6 students who created it had six sessions with author and workshop leader Mary Thomson, who runs Pencilling Creative Ideas.
In the sessions, which began in January, the children looked at what issues affected new students, then learned how to create colourful characters and put them into an engaging story. They were then taught how to edit and create illustrations before being shown how to publish the book and market it.
Dalry headteacher Grant Gillies says: "With so many languages spoken in the school, improving literacy is a priority for us but if you are asking children to write it's important that there's a purpose. Creating the book gave P6 that sense of purpose and it gave us a great resource for new children."
P1 children and any child joining the school throughout the year will be given a copy of A Whole New World in English to take home for free. Others can buy it for #163;3. The Kindle version will also be available in Arabic, Urdu, Polish, Bengali and Hindi.
Mr Gillies continues: "Dalry is a magical school where children learn and grow in a warm and caring environment. We are the most multicultural school in Edinburgh and are very proud of our ethos. This book captures the spirit of that ethos."
A Whole New World was officially launched today (14 June) at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.
For more information visit, www.scottishbooktrust.comlive-literature-funding. For more information about the student training go to, www.pencillingcreativeideas.com.