Wow what a day!
Today we kicked off the Story Gift Scheme that sees Year 9 Students from East Bergholt High school going into Primary schools and being rewarded through the Pixl edge scheme for reading stories to the whole classes of reception and Year 1.
It was awesome and I mean that I am in awe of the two boys who kicked off the whole scheme by reading to the nippers. Instead of being shy and slightly embarrassed by being faced with 30 odd small children at a time they ran with it and had a great time.
When asked if the children wanted more story time they erupted with 'yes pleases' and so the scheme has got off to a flying start.
After half term two more Year 9 children will go into the same school and read stories to the younger ones on a Wednesday.
The benefits are far reaching for sure. Even if the children don't get read to at home and only around 30% do, they will now get read to at school and every child in that school will have a plethora of stories read to them throughout the academic year and stories will become a part of their lives with all of the benefits that that brings!
So hats off to East Bergholt high school and specifically Mr Hetherington for believing in my vision of every child being read stories to and rewarding 14 yr olds etc for learning how to become story tellers with all of the benefits for both age groups.
Today I spent a very productive hour at East Bergholt High school with Mr Hetherington and 9 students this morning. We were practising story telling skills and learning how to speak out 'Loud and proud'. The students got into their stride really quickly and picked up quite a few skills. This will be followed up by another practise session on Monday afternoon and then the students get dropped in at the deep end! The students get Pixl Edge points for getting involved which goes to a substantial reward for them at the end of the year. Last year they got an amazing day out in London going to Westminster Hall then the London eye, Madame Tussaud's a McDonald's and Shrek world (Who knew there was one!)
Next Wednesday the first two students (Two boys) will be vanguarding the scheme by going to East Bergholt primary school and telling a story or two to the children in reception and year 1 respectively. Each week two students from the High School will then go into the primary school and read stories to the children. This will ensure that all of those children not lucky enough to have stories read to them at home will have the experience of having a range of different stories read to them each week.
This will be repeated over the rest of this term and if deemed successful will be offered as a scheme to the rest of the 1,300 schools participating in the Pixl edge scheme.
This could be big and hopefully ensure that all children in every school has a great involvement in being read to and so learn to love stories and who knows what knock on effect that may have?
Last year I was invited by the Iceni school to do an Author visit for their school and it was a blast. This year they have asked me back and are now a paying client! What an amazing compliment especially as it was they who said I should charge for these Author day visits! So chuffed!
I am really looking forward to March the 7th (Wednesday) and making the kids at the Iceni giggle and be inspired. I love being a children's Author, not famous but loving life!
I shall be contacting other schools to of the Author day visit quite soon as I'm having a brand new advertising pack being printed up next week. Designed by the fabulous ladies Sarah and Liz at https://www.smallbusinessgeek.co.uk/ for their amazing artwork and design.
Watch this space!
It is said that reading to children on a daily basis helps young children in a myriad of ways but not all children are lucky enough to get read to at home. So in order to redress that balance somewhat I approached East Bergholt High School to ask if their students would be interested in going into Primary schools and reading to the younger children 10 to 20 minute stories as a part of their Pixl edge scheme and they jumped at the chance!
So on Wednesday the 6th I have been invited to go into the school and workshop a dozen year 9 students who all want to get involved. We will work on projection, character, pace and so on with their peers giving feedback as they practice the art of storytelling.
This is just all pluses as the older Students get to practice a whole bunch of different skills leading to enhanced confidence and themselves understanding the importance of storytelling. It gives the younger children a much wider variety of stories to listen to and so every child in that primary school will get to hear stories read out to them. (This is not about literacy but learning to love literature!). The links between the schools grow and so much more.
Mr Hetherington of East Bergholt has bent over backwards to make this happen despite having recently having had his workload doubled. so I am hugely thankful to him for helping to pilot what has now become known as The Story Gift Scheme.
If it is successful then it is a scheme that might get rolled out to the 1300 and more schools across the country that also reward their students with the Pixl edge scheme.
This is a small start but hugely exciting!!!
The third book in the trilogy is a surprise to me I must say. Most of it is written in form and structure and yet even as I write each new chapter and adjust the previous ones to suit new plot lines beg to be included. I of course want the book finished, published and to receive applause and awards for their ability to entirely absorb the reader into the worlds I am creating.
But I must stay my hand and make sure that the quality of what I write meets the expectations of the readers that I have.
To that end I am putting more and more time aside to write and think and write some more.
Trying to juggle writing time with family time is tricky but family time must and always will come first!
This is brilliant and exciting!
I used to present the Chinese spectacular shows run by 'The Colchester Cultural Society' with a frankly beautiful lady called Liang Xu (or Irene as I am allowed to call her) and she has linked me up with her cousin Dr Zhou in Shanghai who runs the Dragon Boat Education company.
They wish to purchase the publishing rights for my books so that they can publish them and use them in their education programmes in China (starting in Shanghai) and they have asked me to go out there to help promote the books in March (depending on publication progress I guess)
This is a huge honour for me and I am hugely grateful to Irene for making the connections. Watch this space!
The story journey for the character.
In most stories the main character has to go on a journey. Sometimes that is a journey from one place to another and sometimes not. But they usually have an epiphany. A realisation and / or change of mind, sometimes good, sometimes bad!
A bit like this.
"I think that Elephants are scary and horrible. I hate Elephants! They are big and frightening so I shall stay in the car on this Safari thanks. You all go off into the bush and find your precious Elephants. Bye!"
"Oh no! There are Lions coming towards the Jeep I’ll start the Jeep and drive off! The Jeep has broken down. Oh no! I am surrounded by lions and they want to eat me!
Now I can see Elephants coming towards me as well! Help! This is so scary! The Elephants have surrounded the Jeep. I am going to die!!!
The Elephants are attacking the Jeep and I am so scared! Where is everyone?
No, wait a minute. The Elephants are pushing the Jeep along the track away from the Lions.
The Lions have run away from the Elephants. The Elephants have pushed me to safety away from the Lions.
The Elephants are smiling at me? Gosh how I love Elephants!"
Very basic but that is the personal journey. A change of attitude from what the hero first thinks is true. We also all recognise the truth at the beginning that Elephants are nice or maybe we don’t?
Every Hero needs to go on that journey because that is the journey that we take with them.
We have a physical journey, emotional journey and a personal discovery all in one short time line.
Having checked out Qi Fang’s artwork and on the back of the success of ‘The Bucket’ my Publishers Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie have this morning kindly offered me a contract for my second children’s novel ‘The Bag’. It will be really good to see two on the shelves now and so I had best get to writing the third.
It also means that when I go into schools to do a book signing and story games hour that I will feel a bit more like a writer! Really looking forwards to the start of the school term and hopefully filling the diary with dates and events. If I could do just this for a living then I would be one happy bunny!
I had a really nice meeting with Ros, Director of The Essex Book Festival. Apart from getting on really well and finding much common ground she has engaged me to do two 'Story Creation Games day for the Essex Book Festival next year. One in Colchester and one in Chelmsford, both in March. How cool is that.
It will take the form of two separate hours sessions. The first will be games to develop a story. The second hour will be devoted to finishing the story and creating an illustrated front cover with Qi Fang who has tentatively and provisionally agreed to come down and help.
Also those children attending will be able to get a stamp for 'The Children's University Passport' for taking part.
How cool is that! It will be a showcase event for sponsors and interested parties with the aim of creating a children's writing competition the following year!
Today Debbie and I did a story hour at the first St Mary's Book Festival and it was awesome! The children were switched on and really creative. The staff were friendly and very appreciative. We had school dinners which were scrumptious. We met other authors and illustrator which was inspiring. Red Lion Books took care of book sales and we sold out.
To be honest, the best parts of the day were watching the kids laugh when they played the story games. When we did some of the story games there was one or two girls in each session who could barely speak for giggling!
So we sold some books and that is nice but what really floats me and Deb's boats is watching the kids realise that making up stories is easy because that's what they do all the time anyway!
St Mary's is also keen to become involved in the Essex Book Festival so we'll be keeping in touch and hopefully developing a children's writing competition.
Possibly one of our best days ever and brilliantly there are more of these days to come.
My aim in these workshops is to make it easier for children to understand how to write a story. So D J Cattrell is not just about books but about giving kids practical easy structures to understand all aspects of stories and how important they are in life from newspaper articles to Greek Myths around television programmes and over the hill of history. Stories are what we are, how we remember our world and how we make sense of it.
Wednesday 17th August 2016