Get Wrapped up in a Poem for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge

Get Wrapped up in a Poem

Christina Green, class teacher at St. Kessog’s Primary School explains how the First Minister's Reading Challenge has helped a school embrace poetry!

The purpose of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge is to get pupils excited about reading, and the poetry of Shel Silverstein and Michael Rosen have inspired a passion for reading amongst the pupils at St. Kessog’s Primary in Balloch. Driven by their love of poetry, the pupils at St. Kessog’s have now become published authors. 

Fun and creativity

When I first started to plan to introduce the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in my school, I immediately thought of using poetry as a way of developing a reading culture. I thought that poetry would be an effective way to get pupils interested in reading as poems allow children to quickly see that you can have fun with words. Reading and writing don’t have to be serious endeavours; they can also be imbued with a sense of fun and creativity. 

I started by placing a few poetry books around the classroom with a set of post-it notes next to them. I encouraged the pupils to pick up a poetry book when they had a spare minute. I asked them to annotate any of the poems that got their attention. They used post-it notes to write comments about the poems, and to direct other pupils to recommended reads.

Get Wrapped Up in a Poem

I soon found that the pupils wanted to read anything and everything they could find by Shel Silverstein and Michael Rosen. The P7 pupils were devouring my own personal collection of poetry books. They loved poetry, and their comments suggested that they thought there should be more poetry books readily available in schools and libraries.

Setting a challenge!

Inspired by the fun and creative poetry of Silverstein and Rosen, the P7 pupils set themselves a challenge: to write, illustrate and publish their own poetry book. To celebrate their love of poetry, the pupils organised a whole-school assembly on National Poetry Day, Thursday October 6. At the assembly they performed the poems that they had written so far and set the school a challenge: to write a whole-school poem. The P7s gave each class an item that you would normally find at a party - such as a party hat, paper napkin and plastic spoon. Each class was asked to imagine this ordinary thing being transformed into something extraordinary. These creative ideas were then gathered together to form a fantastic and fun whole-school poem. 

The whole-school poem is titled “St. Kessog’s Crazy, Creative Ceilidh”. It can be found at the end of the P7’s self-published poetry anthology, Get Wrapped Up in a Poem.

We used an online self-publishing company to print a professionally-bound hardback copy of the book and we are now looking into options for funding to be able to print multiple copies of the book, and to distribute these copies to libraries and other schools. 

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge has inspired a reading culture at St. Kessog’s, and in so doing, it has inspired a writing culture as well. Pupils are more eager to write, especially when they see that their efforts have a real-world purpose in the form of a published text. It’s my vision that, one day, school libraries will be full of books written and illustrated by pupils. It would be truly wonderful to see pupils regularly reading books written and published by their peers.

By Christina Green, class teacher at St. Kessog’s Primary School

Back to Blog

Get the resources and support you need to promote reading in your school or community

Take part