Thursday 21 April 2011

“Leap into Books” at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College

Yesterday I worked with four different groups of mainly primary age children on this wonderful initiative run by the college. Children mainly from the college’s feeder primary schools come into school during the Easter break and spend three days engaged with story and reading.
Several publishers support the event by offering books. Sponsorship is also gained from other sources and hard-working Adrian Thompson engages creative practitioners to deliver high quality workshops to the children.
So, there I was talking to my four groups about story. We looked at the standard forms of character – hero, friend, enemy and mentor, and talked through how stories work because of the tensions between the characters and follow a pattern of hook, complications, crisis, climax, poke and resolution – though I didn’t quite use those terms.
The children had lively imaginations and were engaged throughout.
One very intelligent young man pointed out that the story of Cinderella was flawed. That shoe could probably have fitted many feet. And anyway, how come it didn’t turn back to rags when the rest of Cinders’ costume did? I then remembered Philip Pullman’s I was a Rat. This is about a boy who had been a rat who wasn’t around to get turned back.
We had shades of Hamlet too, as one girl had the ghost of a dead father talking to a son and requesting revenge. Well, that Billy S. always was a good story-teller. And anyway, aren’t there only seven stories after all?
One group invented a Popeye-like Captain Cucumber who imbued his mentees with superpowers if the ate their vegetables.
I had a great time, and I think the students did too. Their creative energy was strong and they invented some great stories. Behaviour and concentration were fantastic and I was very impressed at how confident they were about telling their stories to the rest of the group.
Read more about Laisterdyke BEC and Leap into Books.
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