This week’s guest post is by Ann Wallace, a parent at Auldhouse Primary. She set up a club to get the whole school community reading for pleasure during the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.
Once upon a time, a small school on the edge of a big town got a magical makeover. This year Auldhouse Primary got its first proper reading space, a little library tucked away in the corner of the building with large windows overlooking the surrounding countryside.
The lovely little library gave me the idea for an after-school club devoted to books, language and storytelling of all kinds. I took advice from the people who mattered – my young sons and their friends – and they were clear they didn’t want it to be homework-y, or too much like school. And it had to have snacks. Snacks were a deal-breaker.
Twenty four pupils turned up for the first session – not bad in a school of 38 pupils at the time! We chatted about favourite books, made autumn pictures for the library noticeboard and discovered that as well as English, we all speak and recognise different languages all the time - textspeak, for example. Shakespeare even got a mention. (And the snacks were a hit.)
The Next Step
Now, Word Wizards has grown. As well as the club, which runs for a few weeks a couple of times a year, I run a twice-yearly Book Quiz and Scavenger Hunt which brings our extended Auldhouse family into our wee school.
A Book and a Butty, where parents spend a morning reading with their children over a bacon roll and cup of tea, is a slice of genius.
Parents, grandparents and carers spend a fun Friday morning searching for clues around the school and playground, before the results are revealed and prizes (kindly donated by our local MP and bookstore) are awarded. It all gets quite competitive, to be honest. And I’m not talking about the pupils!
Our fantastic teachers are very supportive, and run their own brilliant initiatives to bring families into the school. A Book and a Butty, where parents spend a morning reading with their children over a bacon roll and cup of tea, is a slice of genius. There’s a dedicated Library Squad now, and we always celebrate World Book Day by dressing up. We also took Word Wizards on tour, visiting our local book shop and library for some fun and games.
This year, we’re really excited about taking part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. As part of the Challenge, we have a local theatre company coming in during Book Week Scotland to talk about how they turned a graphic novel with no words into a beautiful play featuring both deaf and hearing actors.
Reading with your children is one of life’s little joys. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bedtime story or a book with a bacon roll, it brings you together for a moment of stillness in the middle of frantic family life.
And all the while, you're building your child’s vocabulary, developing their literacy skills and improving their concentration and curiosity at the same time. It’s a wizard win-win. Just don’t forget the snacks.