Although Book Week is done and dusted for another year, I am still considering the many and varied ways the shortlisted books can be 'put to good use'.
Today, my Kindergarten class revisited The Dress-Up Box by Patrick Guest and Nathaniel Eckstrom, by literally dressing up.
I brought in a range of much-loved dress-ups from home, and gave each student a token dress-up eg pirate hat, unicorn horn, tiger tail, wig etc, and placed the girls in groups of four. The dress-ups and groups were assigned randomly, and the girls were asked to think about who or what their character was, and then to consider a simple storyline that brought the weird assortment together.
I was astonished at how enthusiastic all of the students were, including the girls who are usually more reticent in joining activities, Yes, it was dress-ups. Yes, it was play. And it's true, not all groups worked completely cooperatively,
However, the learning was powerful. After each group had performed, I asked each character a few questions (akin to the hot seat idea), and the girls had to really reflect on their character. I also asked some groups what might happen next in their story.
These were young Kindergarten girls who were able to create characters and storylines, and see the relationship between their plays and stories that are read aloud. They reluctantly left the library, but were proudly calling themselves 'story-authors'.
It finally happened! I have been dreaming of a Y6 mother-or-significant-other/daughter book club for several years, and after a few false starts, I hosted our first One More Page book club yesterday afternoon. Working in an all-girls school, it was an obvious arrangement, although I have heard of many of father/son book clubs which have also been wildly popular. Yesterday was a small affair, with three girls, one mother, two grandmothers and me. And food! (What type of book club doesn't have choc-chip cookies and strawberries???)
Background - Why was I so keen to get this type of book club established?
- Year 6 is a great time of change for girls- emotionally, physically, mentally, socially... actually too many ways to list. It is also a time when social media starts playing a role in their lives, and when some hobbies start to lose their appeal.
- In primary school, there can be a tendency to view reading in a very functional way - after all, it's an essential foundational skill for all areas of education. However, recent research points to the value of reading for pleasure and leisure in reducing stress and developing a sense of tranquility, improved memory and increased analytical skills, not to mention developing empathy. (For a nifty easy-to-read article about this, click here.)
- Discussing books is loads of fun for avid readers, and can be a nudge in the right direction for those who are not quite as enthusiastic. Sharing these discussions with a significant person in a young girl's life can be a bonding experience, and another piece in the puzzle of a lifelong love of reading.
Yesterday afternoon we discussed Sick Bay by Nova Weetman. (For a thought bubble about this beautiful book, click here.) Our discussions exceeded my expectations. We tackled grief, resilience, self-acceptance and asked 'what is normal?'. There was no dominant group member, and listening to others' perspectives and 'aha' moments was invigorating. We all left with a greater understanding of the characters in the book, and a new perspective on others we might meet with in 'real life'.
On this page, I don my much-loved (and now well-worn) Teacher Librarian hat.