I knew, from the very first time I thought about it, that I wanted my book launch to be at the local primary school; my kids’ school. I also wanted to make sure that if I ‘took’ from them, in terms of their time and energy to promote a book signing, that I would want to give back. I had a meeting with school in early January, and suggested that I come in to school and run workshops with the different year groups and over the course of the discussion and my planning, I realised these would need to be done on a class by class basis.
I wrote up outlines for about five different workshops/ talks that I could offer and told the school that I’d be available to them all that week; the staff discussed it and I was blown away to be given a timetable that involved visits to every single class in the school over the course of the week and finished with a book signing after school.
All the classes from Reception up to year 4 had chosen to have ‘What Makes a Hero?’ a workshop that looks at the idea of being a hero from early myths (Hercules), the dictionary definition of the word, and some fictional and real life examples of heroes that, hopefully, bust a few preconceptions and leave the kids not only thinking they could be heroes, but realising that they already are. This was the same PowerPoint presentation for year 1-4, it was only the level of the discussion afterwards that differed; reception had their own tailor made version that was just 30 minutes long as I wasn’t sure if they would sit still for that long! I delivered 8 sessions of this workshop, and loved each and every one. The kids were interested, engaged and came up with some great knowledge to share and interesting questions.
One of the year 3/4 classes has been reading Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter for their class reader, and presented me with their reviews! More about those in another post, I promise.
Years 5 & 6 had chosen, ‘How Aliens Change the World’ – the workshop that I first gave at Howsham Mill last year. It’s a fifteen minute talk about how Sci Fi has brought about social change, followed by 30 minutes of the kids designing their own alien race to bring light to a problem, and the final 15 minutes with them presenting. Just as with Howsham, the kids at Headlands were fearless in the scale of problems they were willing to tackle and completely brilliant to work with. It was great to hear that I had made people think again about Science Fiction, which so often gets dismissed as a genre.
The librarian gave me a lovely thank you and a bunch of flowers; I had somehow got so caught up in what the school were doing for me (gaining experience, being able to sell books) that I had forgotten that I was also giving quite a lot to them! The book signing wet well at the end of the day, it was lovely to chat to the kids again and see them get to enthusiastic about reading Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter.
I expected to be tired from the experience, but was actually really energised by it (just as well, as this week is half term!) I am currently reading more about inspiring children to read and write, and planning to add more workshops to the list I am going to offer to other schools.
I hope that a good part of my work in the year ahead will be school visits. I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug!
If you’d like to arrange a school visit, please check out this page with more information.