By Tracy Murray
As children begin to master decoding skills at the end of Key Stage 1 or the Foundation Phase, it is also vital that they start reading with a degree of speed and fluency.
Children must acquire these essential skills to become mature, confident readers, and are best developed, we at the International School of Cape Town (ISCT) believe, by instilling in children a love and passion for literature and reading. We recognise that children who can successfully read and comprehend to a high standard are profoundly more likely to exceed at school and later in life. In addition to its practical benefits, reading is one of life’s greatest joys. Our school staff believe that every child should be encouraged to experience the pleasure and enrichment that comes from reading for fun. With all these factors in mind, we celebrate Book Week each year, with as much fun and enthusiasm as we can possibly muster.
Preparing for Book Week
The structure in Key Stage 1 (Foundation Phase) involves each teacher choosing a different author on which to focus. Teachers must create interactive activities in which the children can participate, the idea being to encourage them to explore different stories and genres. The structure in Key Stage 2 (Intermediate Phase) involves each year group focusing on an age-appropriate book, reading it for meaning, but also for fun. The hype begins a couple of weeks before the celebration, ensuring the children have begun to become enthused and interested. In Key Stage 1, this hype excites the children about the mere prospect of reading! Some examples of the preparation include art activities and discussion.
In 2016, Year 3 used pastels to draw pictures of the characters from their book Charlotte’s Web.1 Year 6 had an origami workshop and folded paper into the yacht, the Peggy Sue, that Michael and his parents sail on in the novel Kensuke’s Kingdom.2 Key Stage 1 created a wall of colourful bubbles in their foyer. For every book that each child read, they were allowed to add a bubble to the wall. Key Stage 2 launched a readathon, whereby the children collected sponsorship for the number of pages they read within a certain time frame. The internal competition was kept at a healthy level and the page numbers were monitored by the children’s teachers and the use of Accelerated Reader (an online reading app.)3
Before the children arrived on the first day of Book Week, each classroom in Key Stage 2 was decorated according to the particular theme of each year group’s focus book. On arrival, the children walked into the world of their book. In Key Stage 1 the whole campus was transformed into a storybook universe. Each passage was decorated according to a different theme. The children got to follow the yellow brick road and fall down the rabbit hole with Alice.
Creative techniques to celebrate literacy
The week was opened by the South African National Theatre for Youth’s4 performance of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.5We chose this performance because this is the year of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. Following this superb performance, each year group then participated in exciting activities that focused on the enjoyment of reading, but also an in-depth comprehension of their focus book or author.
In Key Stage 1, students created their own dream jars like the giant in The BFG, and enjoyed a book scavenger hunt. Using drama to bring the Julia Donaldson story Jack and the Flumflum Tree6 to life, the children also had to find each of the items specified in the book hidden around the school, so that Jack could return from the island of “Blowyournose”. In Key Stage 2, the children got involved in the Cause and Effect game, which helped them to retell the endings of stories or change the main characters’ course of action within their book. Students also played around with story sequencing and prediction. There were also opportunities for the children to be news reporters and report on events in their books, and lastly, using their iPads and apps like the Book Creator,7 the children were able to record various film versions and trailers that described their book focus.
Another highlight of the week was the performance by Hooked on Books.8 This team dramatises trailers from a variety of contemporary children’s books. Two different performances featuring two different sets of books for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 motivated the children to read, read, read! These books were all available to our children in the school library, which hosted a book sale run by The Book People9 throughout the week, enabling children and their parents to come and buy books to take home.
Thinking of others
Book Week ended on a high note on a Friday. Children came to school dressed up as their favourite book character. The inspiration for these characters had clearly, in many cases, come from the Book Week celebrations, which made us realise again that it was a great success. As “payment” for dressing up, the children brought in a new or nearly new book to be donated to our partner school, Zerilda Primary School in Seawinds. We were overwhelmed by the donations, collecting a grand total of 827 books. The Readathon collection will also go towards purchasing Zerilda’s anti-bullying programme materials.
The reading momentum has continued at our school. Our intention is to ensure that the children remain inspired until next year’s celebration.
1. White, E.B. (2012) Charlotte’s Web. New York: HarperCollins.
2. Morpurgo, M. (2001) Kensuke’s Kingdom. New York: Heinemann.
3. See: https://itunes.apple.com/za/app/accelerated-reader/id440734561?mt=8.
4. See: http://www.theatre4youth.co.za/production/.
5. Dahl, R. (2007) The BFG. New York: Puffin Books.
6. Donaldson, J. (2012) Jack and the Flumflum Tree. New York: Macmillan Children’s Books.
7. See: http://bookcreator.com/.
8. See: http://www.hookedonbooks.org.za/.
9. See: http://www.bookpeople.co.za/.
Category: Summer 2016