After a great Easter weekend on the cheap we come to Sunday evening and winding down time. The girls read to us after teatime and we then read to them but I had to ask "You are 10 and 13 years old so clearly we are not reading to each other to improve your literacy skills or improve your comprehension of the world, so why do we still read to each other girls?
Sarah said that for her she loved us reading to her so that she could leave this world for a while and disappear into the world we were describing and that she loved reading to us because she could act out the characters.
Rachel enjoys us reading to her because she doesn't have to think about anything, she can just relax and not solve any problems. She likes reading to us because she likes being the characters and feeling their feelings because if they are happy about something, I'm happy about that and is they are angry about something it makes me wonder why they are angry about that and I get angry for and with them somehow.
Reading every night with your kids is just so beneficial in so many ways.
Last week Tom Carson and I went to the Iceni school to interview children and Teachers about the books and about the Author visit that I do and we had a wonderful response as you can see from the first page of the website. It is something that will help me to advertise my availability to other schools which is great but also raises the profile of the Story Gift Scheme for when I can begin to promote that. My aim is for every child in the country to have a story time in schools and having those stories read to them by Year 9's of the nearest Senior school. The pilot is going incredibly well. Another two Yr 9's get to hone their story telling skills tomorrow and years 1 & 2 get to grill the story tellers!
Today saw another two Year 9 students form East Bergholt High School sit down and read stories to the years 1 and 2 from East Bergholt Junior school. The teachers were keen to tell us that their children were buzzing about it being Wednesday and because it is Wednesday is when the Story tellers come from the Senior school to tell them stories. Wednesday has become a special day in that school for those children and that by itself is awesome!
Filming today at the Iceni School in Colchester was a blast and Tom Carson will be editing the film shots to put on the website and social Media within the next day or two.
If you have ever read to a child and asked questions exploring the plot, character, drawings and how well they liked the story you will know of the magic moments shared by you both and the benefits of having those moments.
For those children who don't get read to at home on a regular basis this scheme goes some way to filling in that gap. Watching 13 and 14 year old children questioning and telling stories and questioning again reminds me very much of Debbie reading to our two daughters. That magic is still there between the reader and the whole class of children.
I really hope we can roll this out to other schools.
Third time now that I have watched 13 and 14 year old students from East Bergholt high school read stories to years one and two and ask questions about those stories "Did you like the main character?" and "What was the funniest bit?" and "Who was your favourite character and why?" and I am watching this interaction between the older children telling stories and the younger children listening to the stories and I am in awe of the strong and immediate connection between the story tellers and their listeners. They are having a conversation and both of the older and younger kids are learning so much!
Before tech children learned about the world from the stories they heard and were told. Before schools the only way of understanding the world at all was from the stories they were told.
We are missing a trick here. All of schooling is not about stories (examples and resolutions and choices in stories.) but it could be. I am beginning to think that we need to give story telling a lot more attention than just thinking of it as a sweet pastime.
World book day is here again and I shall be spending it entertaining and hopefully inspiring the children at the Iceni school in Colchester, It is always nice to be asked back several times to a school and the staff and pupils there are always so creative.
On this day we will be doing 'story bombing' and 'Two story to a story' Safari with acting out being Lions and Elephants (new part of the sessions) with story readings to the younger ones.
Today I watched (in some awe I must say) a 14 year old girl from East Bergholt High school read to 30 children in reception and then 30 children in year one and it was a truly magical moment!
The young lady concerned held the children enraptured by her story telling and hands up questions and answers afterwards.
Gavin oversaw another young lady do the same and so now those children have had 4 stories read to them that they may never have heard otherwise and the young ladies reading had an experience and growth in confidence that they may never otherwise have had. It's all win win at the moment!
If this continues to go as well as it does now then we can look at making it into a package that can be rolled out to the other 1,300 high schools across the country who also use the Pixl Edge scheme.
Amazingly I am at the final chapter of The Bag. Now some of you might say "That's taken a while" and you would be right. The first book took about eight months to write in 20 minute slot and was 175 pages long the second took longer and was 350 pages long or so. The Bag brings it all together and at the moment is about 450 pages but I'm nearly there!
I wonder which of the characters will be the first to die though?
Neil Gaiman is a legend and I quote "Writing a Novel is like driving through the fog with one headlight out, you can't see very far ahead of yourself but every now and again the mists will clear." This is the most profound statement on writing that I have ever heard. This is exactly what it is like when writing.
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.
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