We have recently had an incredibly book week celebration at school. We called it R.A.P. and READ Week as our focus was one of Respecting All People as well as caring for the environment and animals. It was a grand affair with three visiting authors. Donavan Christopher was our upper Key Stage 2 and Secondary poet, Janice Santikarn was our Year 3 and 4 author, and Gail Clarke was our KS1 and Foundation Stage author and illustrator.
The range of activities was enormous. We had poetry writing and reading competitions in Key Stage 2 and Secondary; Key Stage 1 produced a formally published book about respecting the environment; Years 3 and 4 held a Readers’ Theatre Competition and Years 5 and 6 shared their general knowledge about a set of books read in a Readers’ Cup Competition. In addition, Key Stage 2 produced audio books, and we held assemblies, RAP Performances, created Secondary book sculpture making and held World Language Rap performances. We also hosted special ‘activity days in the library’ where the children were encouraged to paint in zentangle style, dress up as rappers and perform poetry raps, play pie face whilst reciting poetry, eat cake, along with all the traditional wordsearch, blackout poetry type activities you might expect.
We didn’t hold back on displays and promotion and the week was something to behold – it truly was a visual spectacle, Culminating in Drop Everything and Read, an Interschool poetry competition and a Dress Up Day on Friday it was a wonderful success.
This type of extravagant affair does not plan itself and negotiating dates, agreeing venues and organizing all the activities takes time. A lot of it! Asking already hugely busy teachers to give up more time and do even more that is ‘over and above’, however much they value reading, takes cheek or I prefer to think charm! Our book week was great: there was no doubt it created a huge positive buzz around school and showed that poetry and reading was both fun and cool. In addition, it enabled many opportunities for vertical articulation within our school and also enabled deep links to be made with other schools. It enabled our students to be exposed to real life inspiring authors encouraging them to love stories and place them within real contexts. The students viewed the library as an exciting place to be and thoroughly enjoyed all the activities and the authors themselves loved the week. (I don’t think they had sold that many books in quite a while!)
You would think that would be delighted with so many positive outcomes and indeed I am. But getting to the title of this blog post I am left with one nagging questions that I can’t make go away. Does our book week, or indeed any book week really create ‘readers for life? This is our underlying mission? If so great, but if not then what could we do differently? It is this question I will be returning to when reflecting on the direction future book weeks might take. I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts?