Tomorrow I’m starting to volunteer at a new-to-me school, with the very simple mission: to transform it into a book-loving* school.
The school currently has no librarian and no literacy co-ordinator. On the visits I’ve so far made to the school, the library seems to be treated as a corridor or a storage area.
As you can imagine, such a mission calls for something out of the ordinary. So, taking a leaf out of Steve Cole’s book, I’ll be there dressed as a (Book) Super Hero.
Starting “small”, to begin with I’ll be working once a week with a class of 7 year olds doing all I can to get them excited about reading, keen to spend time in the library and eager to share brilliant books with me, their families, friends and teachers.
As some of you know I already volunteer in a different school doing story+craft sessions once a week with 5 and 6 year olds. I’ll be drawing on my experience from that in this new school, but with a more clearly defined link to the curriculum.
So when I turn up tomorrow I shall explain to my class that what I want more than anything is to get them buzzing about books, to turn them into Book Super Heroes too and the first stage in their transformation will be a quest to think a bit about what makes books brilliant.
Each table will receive a folder full of Very Important Stuff.
This folders contain a task, a booklet for each child, and some post it notes. Oh, and a super hero mask.
Wearing our masks, each table will use the booklets to help them think about what makes books brilliant, and how they themselves choose books to read. After stamping their booklets with their opinions, everyone will chose one thing that they think makes a book brilliant, or one thing that helps them choose new books, and we’ll stick these up next to the class bookshelves.
Having thought about what makes books brilliant and how we choose books for ourselves, I’m going to tell them about the tasks we’ll be facing in the next two sessions. The class is going on a trip to the zoo next week, so each table will be given a blank book and a disposable camera.
Their mission whilst at the zoo is to take photos they can use to illustrate the books they are going to write. And (remembering what we just did with the Very Important Stuff) the books they are going to write are going to be BRILLIANT, books that they themselves would want to choose off the library shelf.
Finally I’m going to introduce the group to a wide range of different books about zoos. These books will be left in the classroom for the kids to browse before our third session, which will be a Battle of the Books.
On the day of the Battle of the Books, each table will choose one book and then argue to the rest of the class, why they should vote for it as the best Zoo book. But that’s getting ahead of myself…
Tomorrow is all about dressing up, having fun, and starting to get kids excited about reading. And why am I telling you all of this? Well, as I said, I’m doing this as a volunteer. My only qualifications are enthusiasm, a passion for books, and a commitment to do what I can to spread that enthusiasm and passion. Maybe you have similar qualifications? If so please feel free to use/amend all the materials I’ve created for tomorrow’s session. Here’s a zip file with the documents, both as .pdf and .svg (should you wish to edit them), that make up the Very Important Stuff. If you’ve any comments, feedback, suggestions about the documents or my mission in general, please do get in touch.
So that’s it. You now know what I’ll be doing tomorrow afternoon. Please do wish me luck; even though I’m very excited about starting this new project, I’m also rather terrified!
*By book-loving, I really mean reading-loving – a passion for books, comics, magazines, newspapers, stories… I’m sure you get the picture!