The coming week’s bookish radio delights to listen out for include:
Sunday 20 May
3/4. Captain Hook turns the tables, as the battle between the Lost Boys and the pirates begins.
An adaptation of the book by Pamela Brown.
2/4. The Bishop takes the children of the Blue Doors Theatre Company to Stratford.
Monday 21 May
Award-winning children’s author, Jenny Sullivan, tells Roy about her latest prize.
Tuesday 22 May
1/8. The poet laureate of alternative comedy, John Hegley presents a selection of his work. I recently reviewed Stanley’s Stick (written by Hegley) and fell in love with his text – I don’t know if this programme will include any of his work for children, but given how much I liked Stanley’s Stick, I shall certainly be listening to this programme.
1/2. Michael Morpurgo finds out what Systematic Synthetic Phonics are.
“Michael Morpurgo explores how the seminal experience of learning to read has changed over the last 70 years.
In June 2012, all Year One children in English primary schools will sit a compulsory new “Phonics Screening Check”.
Meanwhile, authoritative studies show British ten year olds performing less well and expressing less enthusiasm for reading than many of their international peers.
Michael Morpurgo – hugely popular children’s author, former Children’s Laureate and passionate advocate for children’s reading – explores how the experience of learning to read has changed since the 1944 Butler Education Act. Michael’s starting point is a passionate interest in the subject, forged over decades as a father, grandfather, teacher and writer.
In the first of two programmes, Michael finds out just what Systematic Synthetic Phonics are and why some, not least Nick Gibb, the Minister for Schools in the Coalition Government, are so keen on them – while others, in the educational establishment and the world of children’s books, are less enthusiastic.
He talks to the Minister, and to phonics expert Ruth Miskin, and hears from writers Philip Pullman, Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson. He visits a primary school in South London, rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, which has embraced the new system, and talks with pupils and teachers.
Ultimately, Michael Morpurgo tries to square the circle between getting children reading and getting them to love reading – not only because this is a widely recognised prerequisite for success in secondary education, but also because of the pleasure and fulfilment it brings children everywhere.”
8/8. Lynn Barber talks to Matthew Parris about Sebastian Walker of Walker Books.
Lynn Barber first met Sebastian Walker at Oxford. “He was the first person I’d ever met who was gay…quite funny looking with a big adam’s apple and bespeckled face…he dressed in a very dandy way.”
He formed Walker Books in 1978 which, in Lynn’s words, “launched a whole new era of children’s book publishing.” He took every opportunity to reinvent the rules of publishing – he paid the illustrators more money than anyone else, befriending the likes of Maurice Sendak and Helen Oxenbury till they agreed to work for him. He struck a deal to sell books through Sainsbury’s supermarkets and justified it in the name of child literacy. Titles like ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and ‘Where’s Wally? would establish Walker Books as a major player in children’s book publishing. Walker would describe the financial side of business as a “bore” preferring to spend his money on lavish parties for his friends.
Lynn Barber talks to Matthew Parris about why Sebastian Walker remains such a memorable friend. They’re joined by Walker’s sister and biographer Mirabel Cecil who says her brother “..had very little sense of his own identity”, and that his one true love was really the piano.”
All these radio programmes are available to listen to online worldwide, usually for one week after initial broadcast in the UK.