If you were invited to design a school library launch, how would you go about it? What events would you want to facilitate? Who would you want to involve?
These questions have been very much on my mind since the start of the year, for designing and delivering a school library launch is exactly what I have been asked to do by a local infant school. Can you imagine how excited I feel?
It’s an honour to be asked and trusted by the school to design a whole day of activities and I’ve loved every minute of it so far. Library Launch day is February 12th and now we’re counting down the days…
With apologies to NASA, whose original image I’ve modified.
Having got to the stage where I’ve everything prepped and in place, I wanted to share my plans and resources with you as many of them are easily replicable in families, in classrooms, in clubs, anywhere would you might like to help young children and their families get excited about books. And with World Book Day coming up next month, you could take any of these ideas and use them to celebrate perhaps my favourite day of the year
Today I’ll share the activities the 3-5 year olds will be getting up to, and next week I’ll share the session plans for Year 1 (5-6 year olds) and Year 2 (6-7 year olds), although I believe many of the activities could be adapted to work with children of any age.
We were keen to get as many children into the new library during the day as possible so each class of 3-5 year olds will spend one session going on a treasure hunt for book characters in the library. The basis of this session with be Katie Cleminson’s Otto the Book Bear, in which a bear in a book steps off the pages and into real life. Having read the book, kids (in pairs) will be given a treasure card to identify which books and book characters they need to find in the library.
Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library
No doubt 30 kids hunting 30 soft toys is going to be quite chaotic! Once all the characters are found, the session will finish with a reading of one of the books found by the kids during the session.
A couple of trips to charity shops resulted in a good number of soft toys that either were actual book characters (for example I found Paddington Bear, Pooh, and Poppy Cat without even really looking), then I raided my kids’ soft toys and chose ones which matched (near enough) great books. So, for example, I am borrowing a soft toy squirrel and teaming it up with A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld.
I supplemented these with a few extra official character soft toys (who wouldn’t love the excuse to get a Mog cat or Tiger who came tea toy?). Castlemere Books, based in the US, is the most comprehensive site I found for official book character soft toys, though I didn’t end up using them because of shipping costs to the UK.
Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!
On returning to their classrooms the kids will paint/colour their own bookshelves and Otto the bear. You can download the shelves here and the bear here.
The second session will be based around Lulu loves Stories by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw (follow the link to read it for free online). This is a gentle story about a child who is taken to the library every Saturday by her father. Each book they read together inspires different sorts of play, from being on a farm (having read about Old Macdonald) to making a pretend aeroplane (having read a story about going on an adventure).
Each table in the classroom will be set up with a different activity taken from Lulu Loves Stories: there will be one with princess dressing up, one with farm animals and one with construction toys. A fourth table will be set up for each child to create their own library to take home, by selecting and gluing lots of images of children’s book covers onto these shelves.
I’ve spent a fair few evenings cutting up old publishers’ catalogues to create enough “library stock”, but other than time in preparation, this activity has been very cheap to prepare with many publishers willing to send catalogues upon request. (If you were working with older kids you could simply give them the catalogues and ask them to do some fantasy shopping – seeing what books they themselves would chose for their library would no doubt be very informative.)
On a fifth table children will be able to cut out Lulu bookplates. These are available as part of an activity guide on the US publisher’s website. Don’t be confused by the name change – Lulu (in the UK) becomes known as Lola (in the US), but this doesn’t affect the bookplates.
This session will be rounded off by reading Lulu reads to Zeki also by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw, which is a simply delightful (and funny) window into a later stage in Lulu’s life;she now has a younger brother, and is passing on the love of books her father instilled in her to little Zeki, reading to him whenever possible.
The third session for the 3-5 year olds will open with a reading of I Love My Little Story Book by Anita Jeram, which is all about the delights you can find inside different books, and the various places they can transport you to.
Each child will have the opportunity to make their own bunny which comes with a hidden story book of its own. It’s a simple collage activity to make the bunny out of an envelope, a pompom, some dried spaghetti, googly eyes and cardboard ears, all stuck on to an envelope, inside which each child will find a blank mini book (blue to match the one in the story). Kids will be encouraged to make the story book their own with whatever mark-making they like.
The mini books are each made from a sheet of A4 paper, using this technique, my favourite way of making small paper books as it requires no sticking or stapling.
As well as there being tables set up with fairy tale activities (castles and knights to play with, dressing up, plastic animals in a forest play scene) kids will also be able to colour in and cut out several book plates designed by Anita Jeram.
These are all available to freely download (as long as you’re not using them for commercial purposes) from this brilliant website, http://www.myhomelibrary.org/, created by former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine.
If time allows a reading of I like books by Anthony Browne will finish off this session. This is a very simple introduction to different types of books with just one sentence on each page. It’s a great reminder that there are all different sorts of books you can enjoy reading, not just story books.
The fourth session of the day will be based around an all time classic, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Once the story has been shared, each child will be given their own cardboard treasure chest to embellish with sticky jewels. I sourced some great treasure chests (from http://www.littlecraftybugs.co.uk/) so large that kids will be able to store favourite books inside them.
Elsewhere in the classroom during this session kids will have the opportunity to dig for buried treasure in a sandpit, make aliens out of green playdough, and play with plastic dragons, as well as the chance to colour in this Charlie Cook sheet which you can download from the official Gruffalo website, or to draw their favourite book on this Charlie Cook activity sheet from the US Scholastic website.
This session will be wrapped up with a reading of We are in a book by Mo Willems – a perfect book for this age range where the oldest kids may well be able to join in with reading this funny story about what characters in a book think about their readers.
And as well as all of this, all classes will have a session with the award winning author who is coming to join the school for the day… but more about this in a later post!
Once you’ve finished a book what do you do with it? Shelve it away so it can barely be seen?
How about, instead, exhibiting it on a window sill or mantelpiece to invite comment, to become an ever present part of your life?
Not all books lend themselves to this of course, but High Times: A History of Aviation by Golden Cosmos, and Swan Lake by Ping Zhu are not your everyday sort of book.
An almost wordless, non-fiction accordion book, High Times: A History of Aviation takes you on a journey from Icarus via Leonardo da Vinci, to the Wright Brothers, through the Second World War on to Concorde and the Space Shuttle. Key dates and inventions are picked out and briefly explained in the book’s wrap-around cover, which acts as a key for details to spot in the exciting and broad landscape presented as the book opens out.
Ping Zhu’s Swan Lake, which takes the same format, is entirely wordless. One side of the book shows the audience watching a performance of the ballet, whilst on the reverse you can see behind the scenes as the ballerinas prepare themselves to go on stage.
Both books are wonderfully tactile to hold and interact with. Printed on heavy-weight card these are books you really want to feel between your fingers.
Swan Lake‘s illustrations reminded me of 1960s illustrations, and the girls really enjoyed exploring the audience and making up stories about the different characters they could see, from the bored looking lady with a pearl necklace to the rather mysterious animals who have somehow snuck in to the theatre (they made me think of a Finnish illustrator I like, Hannamari Ruohonen, who also creates fabulous wordless picture books).
The printing technique and bold colour scheme of High Times ensures the book feels both retro and modern. Again, there is lots of fun to be had looking for details, from the family going on holiday with their rubber duck, to the zoo animal being transported by Boeing 747. This book is a great example of how science (in this case, engineering and inventions) can also be explored through art. Team it up with The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith, illustrated by Eva Montanari (which I reviewed here) and The Story of Inventions, by Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Adam Larkum (which I reviewed here) and you’ve got a terrific trio of books to inspire the next generation of flying machine inventors.
But these books are not just for the young. Both NoBrow books are immensely stylish, and as such, will no doubt appeal to adults as well as children. I can easily imagine them unfolded and on display in beautiful, architect designed houses. And why not?
Displaying stories and illustration on your walls is great way to integrate books into your lives, and at £10 a pop I can’t think of a cheaper way to get some eye catching, discussion-inducing art up on your walls.
Inspired by the idea of displaying an illustrated story, the girls set about making their own “mural book”. I blu-tacked a length of fax paper (yes, such a thing still exists, I got mine from Rymans) up our staircase and the girls took turns to illustrate a story chinese-whisper style.
M would illustrate a stretch of paper, then J would take over the story and add her twists and turns. Because I was nervous about pen marks going on the wall I illustrated a simple border along the length of the paper and explained that the girls had to draw inside the border. This worked really well and The HWA (Humane Wall Association) can confirm “No walls were harmed during the making of this book”.
The story grew and grew…
The narrative was somewhat complex, with lots of free association going on, but some of my favourite cameos were these:
“Zeus sent down thunderbolts onto the dinosaurs escaping by bicycle.”
“The dragon and the unicorn came to the magic castle.”
The girls’ mural book is still up on the wall and it’s the first thing anyone sees when we open our front door. I rather like how a story welcomes people into our home.
Whilst we were all illustrating we listened to
Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky (although dancing on stairs is not to be encouraged…)
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines
The Flying Machine by The Sippy Cups
Making an accordion book. Here’s a tutorial from Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord.
Watching Swan lake ballet clips. making peg doll ballerinas and more – as per our Swan Lake round up from last year.
Creating a cardboard airplane you can fly in – I love this one from Joe’s Secret Lab.
Other activities which could be fun to get up to alongside reading High Times: A History of Aviation or Swan Lake include:
What books have you enjoyed recently that are gorgeous enough for you to want to display them as art?
Disclosure: I received free copies of High Times: A History of Aviation by Golden Cosmos, and Swan Lake by Ping Zhu from NoBrow Press. I was under no obligation to review the books and I received no money for this post.
Today I’ve my last review for this month as part of Gathering Books’ Award Winning Book Challenge, and again it’s a picture book which has won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth literature prize).
One, Two, Three, Me by Nadia Budde is a board book for the pre-school / nursery crowd. It is a quirky take on the “learn about the world around you” type of book with an exploration of colours, shapes, weather, locations, clothes, sizes and emotions/characteristics. Told in rhyme with naive, childlike drawings that reminded me a little both of Finnish illustrator Hannamari Ruohonen and Dutch illustrator Babette Harms, this is not your average toddler learning book, and is so much more fun for all that.
The choice of vocabulary is interesting (eg “gigantic, average, wee” when talking about size, or “spotted, plaid, pale” when talking about colours and patterns), and the animals modelling the cloths / locations / emotions etc are unusual: you’ll meet boars, cockroaches, rats, moose and a gnu!
The unusual lexical and illustrative choices made by Nadia Budde ensured that was this book inherently more interesting to read than many of its ilk. Whilst I wouldn’t be surprised if some parents felt happier with a more conventional approach, for example Kali Stileman’s Big Book of My World (which I reviewed here), the slightly anarchic slant taken by this book meant I loved reading it aloud, my enjoyment came across to J, and she too discovered a new book to love.
So now for a slightly geeky diversion, if you’re interested in translation. As a rhyming book, and a book where there is a close connection between the text and the images I was curious to find out how it had been translated.
Nadia Budde’s book is called Eins Zwei Drei Tier (One Two Three Animal) in the original German. A little rooting around has shown that not only has the translation been creative, Nadia Budde also must have redrawn some of the images for the English language version. Here are some images from the original book side by side with the corresponding images from the translated version.
German and English frontcovers. Note the different animal a
Every time we open a book we set off on an journey. We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know who we’ll meet. We just hope we’ll come out (more) alive at the end. Now imagine if you could make your dream adventure come true… Who would you invite to join you? What provisions would you take? Where would you go?
Louise Yates’ wonderfully warm, deliciously drawn Dog Loves Drawing is all about exactly this. Friends. Cake. A little bit of danger. Being able to create your own adventure.
And the power of imagination and pencils on paper.
Dog, who you may already know owns a bookshop, receives an unusual type of book from his Aunt: a book full of blank pages. Inscribed inside the front cover is an exciting invitation:
Dog enthusiastically dives in, draws a door and, yes, walks through into his own adventure.
Starting with the simplest of stick men, Dog draws friends and before long they are off exploring a world they create as they go along. They want sandwiches? They draw sandwiches. They want to explore? They draw a boat. Then for fun, Dog’s friend, Duck, draws a Monster…. oh no! How will Dog and his friends escape? Will Dog make it back to the bookshop safely?
Yates has made a perfect picture book with Dog Loves Drawing. The story is so alluring for kids (I want something? I’ll draw it and make it come to life! Feel the power in my fingers!) and it is told with warmth and humour. The little impishness that drives Duck to draw a monster is so believable and causes that addictive rush of adrenalin that makes a story feel so satisfying, once safe and sound again.
Yates’ illustrations are deceptively simple. They do indeed look like something a young child reading the book might be able to sketch for themselves; just like the words, the pictures are empowering! Yet they are also light and graceful. The facial expressions of the adventurers are a particular delight (we like Duck and Owl arguing, and the look of bliss on Stick Man’s face when travelling at speed in the steam train), lifting Dog and his friends off the page and into living breathing characters.
I defy you to read this book and NOT want to get drawing straight away!
After reading this book for the very first time I succumbed, in that heady rush of new love, to getting something I’ve been hankering after for a long time – a proper pencil sharpener!
I honestly think it is a thing of beauty. And even now, at 38, sharpening pencils holds an addictive sway over me! I love the sound as the shavings are made, and then the rainbow dust that is created has its own magic, to say nothing of the end result:
5 Comments on Ever needed some encouragement to get drawing?, last added: 4/26/2012
I’m so excited! The wonderfully talented, super generous author and illustrator Clara Vulliamy is kicking off a new series here on Playing by the book today.
Every month (where possible), she is going share some ideas to encourage children to tell stories of their own, using the monthly theme from the “I’m looking for a book about…” carnival. She and I will be turning her prompts into a library of mini books you can print off and give to the kids in your life (and yourself!), along with a blank mini-book ready and waiting for stories and illustrations to fill its pages.
These mini books are unique little treats, and Clara and I hope that with her prompts, and a great list of books to read/share from the monthly carnival, we’ll be firing up imaginations and encouraging kids, young and old, to create tales of their own.
As Clara says…
Maybe it’s an older child who would like to write their story down, or a younger one who would be happy telling theirs by drawing pictures…
or, my own personal favourite, making up a story together while chatting at bedtime after lights-out…
I’ll suggest a starting point, a few nudges along the way to keep the story flowing along and an inspiring object or two (I always find an actual THING helps me when I’m writing a story) –
Whose bed could this be?
- and the rest is up to them!
Now to the first mini-books from our library-to be…
Two books especially for you from Clara and me
The Small book of Big Story IDEAS by Clara Vulliamy
A blank book waiting to be filled with stories!
For each book you’ll need to download a pdf file (see below), print it off, and then use the method shown in this video to fold/cut the paper to create the actual book:
To download Clara’s Small Book of Big Story Ideas (No. 1), on the theme of elves and fairies, please
4 Comments on A World Exclusive! A mini illustrated book for inspiring young story tellers, by Clara Vulliamy, last added: 5/14/2012