Winter 2015 School Book Club

Beachy Books School Book Club Christmas 2015

Due to the success of our autumn school book club list with our two trial primary schools we are doing it again with a  special Christmas list of 25 discounted books for children from pre-school to Year 2 in primary school.

We will be donating our own Jack and Boo children’s books to all the school libraries involved and if we get enough orders from schools this time we will be donating copies of the book called ‘Refugee’ which is a retelling of the nativity story chiming in with the current Syrian refugee crisis. £5 from the sale of each book goes direct to the War Child charity. If we have lots of orders we might even have spare funds to buy more books from our selection for school libraries involved. The more books bought, the more books we have a chance of buying for school libraries.

We have now had two more primary schools get involved plus some nursery schools and our list is growing so if you want your school or nursery involved then please get in touch.

Click below to see our winter 2015 book list…

Winter December 2015 – Beachy Books School Book Club List

Happy Christmas reading!

Your Journey Starts Here… again!

Your Journey Starts Here - Cover - 2015 Changes - Front Cover web version

Some years ago we worked with children at Newchurch Primary School to create a book that could be given to new children starting in reception called Your Journey Starts Here (you can read about it by clicking on this link) and we are pleased to say the school has kept printing it and giving it to their latest reception intake year after year.

This year they made a few changes to it, making it full of photos to better illustrate all the exciting things that happen at school to pre-school children about to start school and again they asked us to publish it

We published and printed books in time for their teddy bear’s picnic where new children were invited in the summer to experience what it is like in the school and meet their new teachers.

We hope Your Journey Starts Here gives new children the best start on their school journey!

 

Wild Wood Challenge – Learning in Nature

Beachy Books Wild Wood Challenge - photo copyright Eleanor Bell 2012

On a cold wet Sunday in October The Beachy family and I met a group of children and families from a local primary school at Borthwood Copse, a National Trust ancient woodland near Apse Heath on the Isle of Wight.

And the reason we were all there? The headteacher of the school had heard of our woodland walks and scavenger hunts associated with our children’s book Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood in which photos taken in Borthwood Copse feature. And so I was commissioned to take the children and parents out on a Wild Wood Challenge as an opportunity to move the classroom outside and learn in nature.

After waiting for a few stragglers we all set off, wrapped warmly and in wellies, into the wood, as all around leaves were falling from the canopy of trees above us. Autumn was flexing its muscles at last.

I could tell the children were so excited because they ran ahead, leaping over logs, picking up sticks to use as swords and enjoying marching through mud, while their parents lagged behind chatting happily.

The challenge began at the stand of giant beech trees. I got the children to think about how they might find out how tall the trees might be. Hands shot up and ideas came. One of the children suggested climbing up and abseiling down with a tape measure! I told them a few crafty ways to estimate the height without climbing the tree. What they didn’t realise was they were actually learning a bit of practical maths. For each challenge I set a “takeaway” task for them to do back at home and find out more about how it all worked.

With parents and children all warmed up I then gave each child a Beachy Books map and scavenger hunt based on drawings and photos from our children’s book Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood events and we set off on a circular walk around the wood, setting the children (and parents) a challenge to collect and spot all the things on the scavenger hunt.

When we got to a secret location in the wood (I could tell you but then I’d have to flick your ear) I challenged the children to build a den. They could either build a full size one to sit in or they could build a little fairy house or something a small woodland creature might want to live in. The children soon got stuck in foraging for sticks, picking up ferns, finding leaves and they all found areas of the wood to start building. Before long all the parents were roped-in to help.

At a fallen tree many of the children immediately started to climb it. In the end we had loads of them crawling all over the tree then leaping off with the help of their parents. It was positive to hear parents saying how much they were enjoying the experience having fun while learning with their children.

For the final challenge I got the children to use their imagination and creative writing skills. I asked them to find a tree in the wood that had a face in it and to then create a character from it by imagining how it would speak, what it might want most in the world, how it got into the wood, etc. The children all scampered off and before long I saw children taking photos of seemingly incongruous tree trunks that on closer inspection revealed piercing eyes and warped faces. It’s like seeing images in the clouds. My children often look up in the sky and tell me they can see a dolphin or dragon or head of a giant. Each child sees something different.

By the end of the walk we had arrived back at the start and by all accounts both children and parents had enjoyed and learned from the experience. And so had I. Learning outdoors is fun!

Would you like a Wild Wood Challenge? Get in touch…

Beachy Books and Newchurch Year 5 children publish a book for Reception

Philip Bell with Year 5 children at Newchurch School Copyright Isle of Wight County Press 2012

Philip Bell, local Island author and publisher at Beachy Books, has just published a book in collaboration with Year 5 children at Newchurch Primary School called Your Journey Starts Here. The book colourfully illustrates and describes to new children some of the exciting things to expect when they begin school at Newchurch. The book will be given to every new child starting Reception at Newchurch School this autumn.

Mr Bell said, “I pitched the idea of creating a book with the children and the school were very keen to get involved. Year 5 teacher, Mrs K Hulmes, suggested the idea of a book for Reception. She asked interested children from her class to write mini-CVs and ‘apply’ to be part of the production team.”

Philip has been working with the school during winter and some of the spring term while helping the children to write, illustrate, photograph and design the unique book. Mr Bell explained how the project was a great learning experience: “I had never published a book in collaboration in a school setting before. I learned as much as the children. They were very capable, helpful and keen to learn all the aspects of book writing and production. I could see how proud they were of all their hard work when they read the final published glossy book.”

The children first had to interview the reception teacher and assistants to ask what the requirements would be for the book and during the production process they learned many skills including planning, teamwork, writing, editing, proofreading and design. The school were particularly keen on the book project as it involved an enterprising aspect as Mr Bell explained: “When the children learned they had to raise funds to pay for the print run they were so excited and proactive. They sold cakes, ran stalls and wrote letters to local businesses for sponsorship.”

The headteacher of Newchurch Primary School, Miss Kirsty Howarth, said: ”I have really liked the enterprise element of the work in that the children have funded the majority of the publishing costs through fundraising and sponsorship, this has been valuable ‘life-long’ learning!”

Copies of Your Journey Starts Here were given to children and their parents at the new intake evening at Newchurch School held in June 2012.

Thanks to local sponsor donations that helped to pay for the print run: Pabulum, The Garlic Farm and Amazon World.

Photo courtesy Isle of Wight County Press – Copyright 2012

Jack and Boo visit Holy Cross School

Philip Bell with children at Holy Cross School IOW - Photo:  Isle of Wight County Press Copyright 2012

I visited Holy Cross Primary School, IOW, to read Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood to Reception and Year 1 classes who were all dressed as book characters (no Jack and Boo’s disappointingly) as part of their World Book Day 2012 Celebrations. The children seemed doubly excited when an Isle of Wight Country Press photographer came to snap away and then I read from the book. It was a large room and around 60 children and teachers, so I admit it was a challenge to keep them all engaged. It’s always hard to tell how it went down, but children did put hands up to ask questions and we did a mini-nature spot and name as I read through the book.

It’s a bit shocking to find out so many children haven’t really been out into nature with their parents. I find this very sad, especially as on the Isle of Wight we are surrounded by it. I think many parents have a real issue with “mud”. I say, get over it and get muddy. There are also wonderful things called wellies that prevent you getting too dirty. Children need to be hands on and getting messy is all part of the experience, seeing, feeling, tasting. Fortunately Holy Cross School is in wonderful grounds with great views so the children were able to go on a mini-nature walk after the reading.

I then worked with a year 2 then year 3 class making folding story books, getting the children to think about beginnings, middles and ends. We talked about “cliff-hangers” and how to basically structure a very simple story. They loved the craft element of making and folding the book, and then they all came up with stories. Some fantastic and others about favourite things they had done. I talked about how Jack and Boo stories reflect real adventures out into nature – they are more like poetic diary entries than traditional narratives.

There were a few children who seemed very quiet and hadn’t made a start. When I asked what the problem was they said they didn’t like writing. I told them when I was their age I had preferred drawing to writing and suggested they do it totally visually, like a comic, and if they wanted they could add speech bubbles to tell the story. This perked them up and they managed to produce wonderfully illustrated comic books.

All in all, another great visit. I did ask the school to send me pictures of the finished books and when I have them I will post some. They were all so varied – some more like fan fiction, continuing stories in their favourite universes such as Harry Potter or Star Wars, and others, extremely personal, about their parents or life at home. Wonderful.

“Many thanks again for coming to the school, it was much appreciated and we thank you for your time. The pupils enjoyed the stories and book-making activities – which fitted in really well with the book day theme.”

Gill Hilson, Acting Assistant Head Teacher, Holy Cross School

Photo supplied by Isle of Wight County Press – Copyright 2012.

Writing and book making with local school children

On Monday this week I visited Newchurch Primary School in Isle of Wight to read our new Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood children’s picture book to a class of 7yos and then get them thinking about making and writing their own stories.

I had never read any of our books to anyone other than my own children – two of the harshest critics ever born – and small groups of children at various book signings. Reading to a class of children sitting on the carpet in front of me, their teacher and classroom assistant sitting behind them, was daunting, but I’m happy to say my nerves were soon quenched by the enthusiasm of youth. They got so involved as I turned the pages, stopping to ask questions about the wildlife illustrated in the book, and eagerly raising hands to win my attention to tell me the right – or wrong – answer.

We had a great discussion about going out into nature and spotting wildlife. I was heartened that most of the children could identify a bluebell and had tasted a wild blackberry. The questions came think and fast. The discussion led onto talking about the writing process and how writing is really all about rewriting, redrafting, until you are happy (some writers are never happy). The copy of Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood I read was a proof copy and had some mistakes, which I got the class to try and identify.Children love to discover adults get things wrong too!

After reading, I showed them how to fold paper into a mini book and on each panel I’d written some basic writing tips to get them started on a simple picture book story. I covered titles, begginings, middles and ends and I was also pleased they all knew about writing good book blurbs on the back cover.

I think I must have confused the children at one point when I told them not to do the title/cover page first, because most writers don’t come up with a title until they’ve written the book, as they don’t know what it’s going to be about yet. One little boy found this most annoying and asked that he must do the title first as he couldn’t start his story without it! It taught me that writing has no rules, just good and bad advice. In the end you have to find your own way.

There was much noise and folding and writing and drawing. Some of the children had immediate ideas about what to write, while others needed some ideas. I told them to use their own experiences and adventures to find something truly original. It must have worked, because, by the end of the session, all the children were deep in thought, writing.

I’d like to say thanks to the teachers and children at Newchurch school. I can report the future is in very safe hands judging by the intelligent children I met.

And if you want to see the finished books and have a go at making one yourself, then come along to Quay Arts, Newport IOW, at the Artists’ Book Fair on Saturday 28th May between 11am and 4pm. I’ll be signing copies of the “old style” Jack and Boo’s Bucket of Treasures, before the new cover version is published this summer – so that’ll make them even more valuable and rare one day. Here’s hoping…