World Book Day 2016

A Book in the Home

Welcome to World Book Day, the day when a fantastical array of characters set off for school across the world. I dropped off Harry Potter (books by J. K. Rowling) and Claude with his faithful friend Sir Bobblysock (books by Alex T. Smith) this morning and after the previous day’s mad scramble around the shops I welcomed a huge sigh of relief that I’d actually managed to pull the costumes together in time.

It was hard to ignore the new found murmur of excitement in the playground this morning. World Book Day had evidently lifted the fun factor of school a notch or two. I saw big smiles as each child took on the role of their favourite children’s book characters with hidden thespian confidence. Dressing up is a fun way to engage children with books but what do children really think about books? What do books mean to them?

For World Book Day I wanted to try and capture a small insight into how books have impacted on some children’s lives so I decided to ask around and do a quick investigation to test the water. The question I asked the children was :-

“What do books mean to you? For example this can be a feeling, a place or time that you link with books.”

All the responses are from children aged 12 and under. I have to admit I was expecting some negative or indifferent comments interspersed between the positive ones so I wasn’t one hundred percent sure where this blog would take me before I got some answers. It turned out that books are pretty popular (in case you hadn’t noticed). Some of the answers are a little random as you may expect from children but overall it emerged that most of the children associate books with bedtime, their favourite books and a happy time. I thought these results deserved being made into this A4 poster as a nice addition to any reading nook.

Book Poster

Feel free to copy and paste to print out.

Back to School with Children’s Books

Books about School

After weeks of no homework (for some), no deadlines (except for those of our own making perhaps) and the occasional pyjama days, the new school term is now in full swing and I, like millions of other parents, am just beginning to once again get my head around the daily routine of taxi-ing to and from school and a whole host of other favoured activities of the moment.

School dominates children’s lives; it’s somewhere they have to go, even when they don’t want to and a place where they are pushed to achieve every day. So why then are schools such a popular topic in children’s books? Surely the last thing they want to read is a story about being at school again? Wouldn’t they rather escape to a fantasy world on planet Bish Bosh than somewhere they already go to everyday?

I couldn’t resist last week re-tweeting (@lonerganbooks) the picture of the timetable board at Kings Cross, listing Hogwarts train as being “on time.” J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has made Hogwarts the most famous fictional school in the world now. So much so it has become a part of our lives. So what makes Hogwarts such an appealing setting? Is it because the extraordinary occurs amidst a familiar setting or is it because our imaginations could almost believe that a school like this could really exist?

Using familiar settings in stories is about sticking to a situation a child can identify with but twisting it and making the mundane interesting and the opposite of what might be expected. One of the first British writers to start the trend was Angela Brazil with The Fortunes of Philippa in 1906. Due the books success she went on to write a total of 49 novels based on life at boarding school. Since then many authors have followed suit with their own twist on school life.

There are schools for everyone in the book world. Schools for unlikely spies (Spy School by Stuart Gibbs), space travelling dinosaurs (Astrosaurs Academy by Steve Cole), L’Etoile for those who want to become famous (School for Stars by Holly & Kelly Willoughby), a school for ghosts (Mountwood School for Ghosts by Toby Ibbotson), budding ballerinas (Ballet School Secrets by Janey Louise Jones) and even the differently gifted at the Alice B. Smith School (Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell). The graphic novel, Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown cleverly combines a familiar school setting for trainee Padawans with the Star Wars planet Coruscant. If we have schools on earth, why shouldn’t there be schools on other planets?

However, it’s not just about who the school is for; there are many other ways to put a twist on school life as we know it. Flour Babies by Anne Fine is set in an average comprehensive school but she develops a humorous situation by observing how the characters interact and the relationship between pupil and teacher. It’s feels good to laugh at all the things that can go wrong when looking after a flour baby and to make fun of the teacher’s attempts to make lessons more interesting. Its’ a book about school life and how the children and teachers learn to deal with each other.

Other books focus on delighting in mishaps and chaos. Children find it amusing to read about things they know shouldn’t happen at school. Darrell Rivers and her friends provide the reader with endless entertainment doing what they’re not supposed to do in Malory Towers by Enid Blyton and Rafe Khatchadorian racks up thousands of points breaking every school rule in Middle School by James Patterson.

Another way to make school life more exciting is to create unusual characters who can do things a child might wish would happen in school. The magical teacher known as Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter who turns St Barty’s school bully into a frog and then forgets the spell which changes him back again is a good example of this. Other authors switch the writing style to a day to day diary format such as Tom Gates by Liz Pichon and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Often these books are written from the pupil’s point of view and concentrate on common issues that occur in schools as in Diary of a Sixth Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson which broaches bullying but with a very humorous angle to it.

So next time your children are struggling to come up with ideas for their creative writing homework, try and get them to think about mixing the absurd, unexpected and surprising with everyday occurrences to help put an interesting spin on their writing.

CLICK TO BUY Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: 1/7 (Harry Potter 1)



CLICK TO BUY The Fortunes of Philippa






CLICK TO BUY Astrosaurs 1: Riddle Of The Raptors



CLICK TO BUY First Term at L’Etoile (School for Stars)



CLICK TO BUY Mountwood School for Ghosts (Great Hagges)



CLICK TO BUY Ballet School Secrets (Kelpies: Cloudberry Castle)



CLICK TO BUY Ottoline Goes to School



CLICK TO BUY Jedi Academy



CLICK TO BUY Flour Babies



CLICK TO BUY 01: First Term (Malory Towers)



CLICK TO BUY Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life: (Middle School 1)






CLICK TO BUY The Brilliant World of Tom Gates



CLICK TO BUY Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1)



CLICK TO BUY Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja



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