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.