Chapter verse

28th September 2007 at 01:00
Encouraging pupils to love reading should be easy during Children's Book Week. Sarah Gidlow suggests ways to get them to jump between the covers.

One of the fundamental reasons I became a teacher was to share my passion for reading. With so many curriculum demands and a constant pressure to meet targets, the annual Children's Book Week (October 1-7) is an ideal opportunity to encourage your pupils to develop their enthusiasm for reading. Books can be inspirational.

So how do you raise the profile of the week in your school? Displays can play a key role. A name the author challenge is interactive and will catch pupils' attention.

Scatter the names and pictures of writers around a board and ask pupils to match the names to the faces. Make it more interactive by using a wipeboard and asking the pupils to draw links between the names and the authors or more like a quiz by numbering the images and issuing sheets for the students to fill in.

Another way to transform your classroom is to create book mobiles. Ask pupils to select their favourite book and then draw images inspired by the text. For Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for example, pupils could draw the factory, Willy Wonka, the golden ticket and, of course, lots of chocolate. These images can then be attached to thread before being fastened, in true Blue Peter- style, to a wire hanger or a more sophisticated structure.

Children will be intrigued by a display focused on the books members of staff enjoyed when they were young. Take a picture of the staff member holding the book and display it next to a statement saying why they enjoyed it.

Try to include a wide variety of staff, not just teachers, so children see that reading is something enjoyed by lots of people. This is a good project for a small group of pupils to be in charge they will enjoy the photographs and collecting the statements.

Another display which looks very effective is the poet tree. Place a tree trunk cut out of brown paper on a blue background and add a few branches. On each green leaf write the name of a poet and, on a few larger leaves which are falling from the tree, attach copies of poems. This display certainly fits this year's theme of the environment, especially if you include linked poems.

You can also use the theme to inspire your class to create their own book of poetry. Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience could provide inspiration for the format, with each child submitting one poem based on the theme of environment accompanied by an image "The Tyger" would provide a good example. Alternatively, a class anthology of haiku could be produced.

Try running a book quest, which involves pupils being set a list of questions or challenges based on the environment theme. They will need to visit the library and delve into a variety of books to discover the answers. Provide a prize and certificate to encourage the pupils to spend time researching the answers and completing all the questions.

Holding an event modelled on the BBC's Big Read can encourage pupils to remember books they have enjoyed and help to develop their persuasive writing skills. Ask them all to nominate a book and then draw up a short list of the most popular.

Children can produce leaflets in support of one of the books and design posters to encourage people to vote for a particular text. Pupils could speak in assembly to support their favourite before finally voting. The final top 10 can be displayed in the library or classrooms.

Using drama can make texts come alive and develop your pupils' ability to not only work in a group, but also select the most important aspects of a novel.

In groups, youngsters can produce a series of freeze frames and then ask the class to guess the title of the book; alternatively, they could produce a two minute version of a novel. Another useful exercise involves dividing a text into sections and allocating each one to a small group of pupils. Each group puts together an improvisation of their section and they are performed in order.

When looking for suitable homework, try asking students to interview a relative or carer about the books they enjoyed as a child. Not only will this help to develop their interview techniques, it will also raise the profile of Children's Book Week and encourage adults to discuss and enjoy books with children.

But perhaps one of the most valuable activities is to simply read a story with your class

Sarah Gidlow teaches in London


The Children's Bookshow, now in its fifth year, is the only annual UK tour of children's authors and poets.

Writers, including Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate, will be appearing in theatres and providing free writing workshops for schools, coinciding with Children's Book Week, which starts on Monday.

For full details visit:

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