Our children in Year 1, Year 2 and Year 6 have recently had the privilege of developing their reading and writing skills with Karen Argent from the Letterpress Project. The Letterpress Project is a brand new, not-for-profit initiative, which believes that there is something very special about reading real, printed books. Letterpress runs a well-established website with an ‘Inspiring Younger Readers’ section packed with reviews of recommended children’s books, author interviews and much more.
Karen delivered a session on traditional tales with our Year 1 and Year 2 classes at the end of last term. She brought over 20 different versions of Little Red Riding Hood with very different styles of illustration, including some particularly splendid pop-ups. Karen was particularly impressed at the children’s responses to the different representations of the wolf. She had brought a letter written to the children by Mr Wolf and they in turn sent him a selection of beautiful wolf drawings.
This term Karen has joined Miss Cook, Miss Tang and our Year 6 pupils to explore the theme of asylum seekers and refugees, which ties in with their cross-curricular work. She started the session by showing the children a badge with the slogan ‘We all sleep under the same stars’ and they were very keen to explain to her that this meant that people were the same across the world, because they were human. They looked at ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr as an introduction to the scale of the refugee crisis in Europe caused by WW2, before moving on to read passages from ‘The Other Side of Truth’ by Beverley Naidoo and ‘Boy Overboard’ by Morris Gleitzman. Sometimes pictures can be even more powerful than words, so the children looked at the sepia images about migration and the strangeness of trying to understand a different culture in ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan.
The discussions with Karen were developed by Miss Cook and Miss Tang and led to all our Year 6 boys and girls working in pairs to compose poems. These poems have been posted on the Letterpress website and have generated considerable interest. This week Beverly Naidoo and two other well know children’s authors, Pippa Goodhart and Verna Wilkins, have passed on their compliments to the children. Pippa wrote: “I think that all those poems are truly powerful. They paint pictures in the mind of destruction and danger at sea and places of safety. But they also take us inside those experiencing war and escape. They make us feel their experience. I’m impressed with the way each poem has two authors. That shows real co-operation! It makes me want to have a go at writing something together with somebody else. Maybe that’s sort-of what I do anyway. Tomorrow I’m getting together with five writer friends, and we will read out our work to each other and suggest ways to improve it. The image from those poems that stays most strongly in my mind, some time after reading the poems, is of ‘danger knocking at the door.’ That makes me shiver!”
Even more amazing is that the children’s work has now come to the attention of Chris Ridell, the Children’s Laureate, and he has drawn a poster for our Year 6 pupils. Chris is a prolific writer and illustrator, whose work is familiar to both children and adults. Yesterday Letterpress decided that they would like to publish all the poems as a book and Chris has given his permission for the poster to be used as the cover. We congratulate our Year 6 writers for their creative flair and thank Karen Argent, Miss Cook and Miss Tang for inspiring the children to make this happen.
Please visit http://www.letterpressproject.co.uk and put ‘Greenfield’ into the search window to find out all about this exciting writing and to read the poems themselves.