Spread the words

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
World Book Day and the National Year of Reading combine to make this an ideal opportunity to dress up the delights of storytelling, says Zoe Chappell

World Book Day is always inspiring - but this year's, on March 6, promises to be even more so, as it falls within the National Year of Reading.

On last year's World Book Day, Gunthorpe Primary dressed as book characters and gathered to watch the ribbon on its extensive new library and topic resources area get cut by a visiting storyteller.

We arranged with Polly Howat, our storyteller, that all stories - from fairytales to local myths and legends - should be linked to the curriculum to maximise the impact on learning.

Key stage 2 pupils were captivated by tales about Tom Hickathrift, who kills the Ogre of Smeeth. Likewise, younger pupils found their tales enchanting. Activities within the classroom focused on these themes and library loans on the subject have risen since.

Polly also led a workshop with parents to develop storytelling skills, which left them with increased enthusiasm and confidence to spontaneously spin a tale with their children.

The day's assembly centred on the events. Winners - pupils and staff - were announced for the dressing-up competition and prizes of books were presented by the governor judges.

Year 6 pupils made their own books that were then shared with younger pupils and we launched paired reading within the school. That is now fully established here; each KS2 class is twinned with a foundation or KS1 class, and they read together in our library every week.

A book fair was held after school and the pupils had the opportunity to spend their World Book Day vouchers, which also provided us with a welcome opportunity to buy more books for the library.

My overall aim was enjoyment of the day while further fostering a love of books within the whole school community.

Everyone clearly enjoyed themselves and the new library has been well used during and after the school day since. Pupils also have a larger bank of ideas for story writing and are more ready to use their imagination to create original stories.

This year we are fortunate to have one of our parents, Michael Alexander, who is a published author, leading writing workshops in each class. Pupils and staff will again be invited to dress as book characters, and pupils have the opportunity to purchase books with their World Book Day vouchers. This will build on last year's success as the school's focus shifts to writing skills

Zoe Chappell is acting deputy head at Gunthorpe Primary, Peterborough

How to do it

- Decide on a theme for the day and link it to the curriculum or specific genres or authors.

- Book an author or storyteller well in advance. There is high demand for World Book Day.

- Approach your local bookshop or book fair organisation to organise a sale of adult and children's books. The local library could also be invited to enable new members to join.

- Invite the local press to cover your event. This will raise the profile of your school while adding to the excitement of the day.

- Find useful cross-curricular ideas, resources and activities at www.worldbookday.com.

Visit www.pollyhowat-storyteller.co.uk.

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