Sunday, 25 March 2018

Four Things I'm Excited about in 2018: #4 Book Week

#1 Library Llamas
#2 Patron of Reading
#3 Reading Buddies
#4 Book Week

The fourth thing I'm excited about this year is our Book Week, which is in Week 3 next term.  I always enjoy a week of putting books and reading in the limelight, and I have lots of ideas to try.  Some of these are still evolving, but this is what I have so far:

Theme = Sharing Stories

When we held our Teachers' Reading Groups last year, I was disappointed by some of the results from surveys we did in the participants' classrooms, in particular the percentages of children who weren't being read to by their parents. I wanted a way to gently promote the importance of reading to our children, even when they are old enough to read to themselves.  So the theme for our Book Week this year is "Sharing Stories".

Picture Book World Cup

A while back I saw a post on Twitter about a Picture Book World Cup and I've been keen to try it ever since.  Author Jonathan Emmett describes it fully here, but basically it is a knockout competition where books are paired against each other and students vote on the ones they like the best.  Jonathan is a Patron of Reading and he ran a Picture Book World Cup at his patron school.  What got me hooked is his description of the special assembly to announce the winner - "Both books had enthusiastic supporters who broke out into excited cheering whenever their book pulled ahead".  Wouldn't that be fantastic?!  To have a school so excited about books they start cheering about them?

To make it manageable at our large school, we are going to run three Picture Book World Cups, one each for our Year 0-2, Year 3-4 and Year 5-6 classes.  This will also allow me to give the Year 5 & 6 students some sophisticated picture books. 

The Picture Book World Cup takes place over the course of a week, and will be one of the big events for our Book Week.


Our PTA had tentatively proposed a Spellathon for next term, but happily they have agreed to change this to a Readathon.  I think this will fit nicely with our theme of Sharing Stories, as it will be a good way to encourage students and parents to read together at home.  I did a bit of research about how this works for the PTA, but it will be their job to run it.  The way that I liked best is to organise it by a minimum amount of reading per day.  After the student has met the minimum amount, any more reading that day does not count toward the sponsorship.  This encourages regular reading, not just one big session, and it also means that sponsors have an idea about what the maximum amount of their sponsorship will be.  

I have heard of students being sponsored by the amount of books they read, but I have concerns that doing it that way would incentivise reading smaller, easier books as fast as you can, rather than enjoying reading any story, however large or small, at whatever pace suits you.

Book Basketball Death Match

Earlier this month, I co-presented a workshop with the amazing teacher/librarian Steph Ellis.  She introduced me to the idea of Book Basketball Deathmatch.  Teams of five are given ten points each and in turns they have to answer book-related questions.  If they get the question right, one person from a team takes a shot at a basketball net.  If they sink the shot, they get to nominate a team to take points off.  Once a team has lost all of its points they are out of the game. 

Given our presentation was titled "Libraries Just Wanna Have Fun", we thought it would be a good excuse to test the game out on our unsuspecting audience.  It was a bit of a gamble with around 50 in our audience, but with a few adjustments (we overestimated our collective throwing abilities and need to bring our "net" in closer!), we could see that it was as much fun as we'd thought it might be.  We didn't finish a whole game, but there was still time for rivalries to form between Team 2 and Team 5!   All it took was one team choosing to deduct points from the other and the war was on!  It looked like having ten points each might make the game take quite a long time to play, I might try five points each for our school version.  We didn't have a basketball net, so our net was just an empty rubbish bin.

I'm wondering whether I should combine a staff version of Book Basketball Death Match with our next Teachers' Reading Group session.  It would be a lot of fun and they would get an idea of how to run it.  

I think we'll have to rename this for our younger audience, it will probably be Book Basketball Survivor. 

Author Visits

Dawn McMillan, our Patron of Reading, is coming on the Friday and will speak with our Year 3 & 4 students.  Illustrator Ross Kinnaird, who illustrates a lot of Dawn's books ,is also attending on the Friday and will be working with our Year 5 & 6 students.  Finally, we also have author Angie Belcher coming in earlier in the week to talk with our Year 1 & 2 students.  That might seem like a lot of authors/illustrators, but it is still 10-12 classes each for them.

Book Art

I'll be offering a couple of suggestions to the teachers for creating art for, or during, Book Week.  There is "door wars", where classes decorate their classroom doors using a book as inspiration.  Or students could draw their favourite book's cover and write a couple of sentences about why they like it.  Or instead of a couple of sentences they could give a three word review, (another idea that Steph Ellis talked about in our presentation).

Student Storytellers/Poets

When I was in London last year, I got to attend a workshop by author Atinuke (I love her Anna Hibiscus and No.1 Car Spotter books).  During the workshop, Atinuke told a traditional story.  There was no book, just her telling the story from memory.  I was completely enthralled and realised it had been a long, long time since I had heard a story in this way.  I was keen to have some of our older students tell stories to our younger students during Book Week.  Fortunately this ties in with our oral literacy curriculum, and one of our teachers is working on this with her students for me.

Then a couple of weeks ago I had a chance conversation with another teacher, who was telling me that her students were enjoying learning poetry and performing it.  Excellent, some more student entertainers for Book Week!  I love that this will be a different aspect of stories and poetry that we can share.

Mystery Readers

We've done Mystery Readers in the past and they were popular.  They suit the Sharing Stories theme perfectly so we'll be doing it again on the last two days of Book Week.  On the first day we'll have a staff swap (including senior management and support staff).  On the second day I hope that Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird will join in, as well as parents, who could share a favourite book from their childhood, and/or one from a different culture.

"The Big Read"

On our final day we will have "The Big Read".  I am hoping that we can encourage families to come in and celebrate reading with their children.  I am thinking that it would be nice if Dawn and Ross could take the opportunity to talk about encouraging reading for pleasure with parents in a special assembly.  I'll have to look into that.  We will have the announcements of the Picture Book World Cup winners, and student/parent sessions from Dawn and Ross.  Students will be able to come in their pyjamas, with their favourite soft toys.  I'll bring in lots of blankets and pillows and we can all lounge around in the library!  I'm not sure exactly how the morning will look for parents attending, I'm hoping to get some help with that from our teams.

I have been invited to attend a staff meeting in a couple of weeks to talk about Book Week and our plans for it.  The following day Dawn McMillan is coming for her first visit as Patron, and I'll go over our Book Week plans with her then.  The week after that I plan on attending a PTA meeting to help with the Readathon.  And then it's the holidays, and all of a sudden Term 2, Week 3 doesn't seem so far away!  Isn't that always the case?!

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