I’ve reported on my school’s very successful reading picnics before: eg. here and here, and today we scored another home run!
Recently, I happened upon a revelation that children’s author, and former member of The School Magazine‘s editorial team, Cassandra Golds, had been a former student of our school, so I went about inviting her to be our special guest at today’s reading picnic. Theme: Teddy bears. Dress: Pyjamas. What fun!
Cassandra was an excellent speaker, and comes with my highest recommendation. The students were abuzz for weeks before her visit. I fired up the kids quite a bit and they were very excited to meet a successful ex-student.
The Stage 1 students had plenty of questions about “where the library used to be” and Cassandra’s time at the school.
Our Stage 2 students are midway through “The mostly true story of Matthew & Trim”, a graphic novel illustrated by Stephen Axelson, originally serialised over two years when Cassandra was still at The School Magazine. Our students are working on the HSIE unit on Australia in class, so the graphic novel is working so well in library lessons. I’m practically doing Geoffrey McSkimming-style stand-up orations while reading them the story! (I do exaggerate, but it’s been fun.) I had the students enthralled with Trim “the demon cat” when explorer Matthew Flinders and Trim were in England. I’m looking forward to the arrival of the dodos myself. (Yes, Mauritian dodos. It’s complicated.)
The Stage 3 students were fortunate to be the very first audience to hear a rather spooky chapter from Cassandra’s new book, “The museum of Mary Child”. They were already familiar with Cassandra’s other novel titles, “Michael and the secret war” and “Clair-de-lune”.
Our now-traditional reading picnics are usually in that last hour of the day, after the lunch break. We usually gather at the podium, talk about the theme. In the past we’ve had a recipe theme, building anniversary trivia, spring, multicultural, etc – then we break up into smaller groups, or students take their parents to shady spots around the grounds, until we again gather to sum up.
At last year’s September picnic, I brought out a graph to record our Premier’s Reading Challenge results. This year we added a new annual tally and Cassandra presented certificates to the school from MSN Readathon, and another celebrating the students’ success with the PRC – up 2% on last year’s results to 80%.
We cycled groups through the hall to meet Cassandra in more intimate groups, and the afternoon was over before we knew it. A fabulous whole-community focus on literacy and the love of reading!
A big thank you to Cassandra Golds! And to teacher Kerrie Mead, who organises the picnics and does a great job promoting them in innovative ways.
An aside: Cassandra and I realised that the whole of our planning for her visit had been conducted online via Facebook. Welcome to Web 2.0!