A Year of Reading: Launching literature
In Dr Kornel Kossuth’s second post for us as he continues on in his challenge to promote reading for pleasure during the school day, he discusses the positive impact of an author visit.
Opportunities are generally rare, but funnily enough when they come, they tend to come in groups; like a reversal of it never rains, but pours.
There are few better ways to inspire pupils to read than through an author visit. And we’ve had our fair share of these visits over the years. Our recent author visit was different, though: it tied in with the inaugural Cranbrook Literature Festival. A local initiative to promote literature in the area, Saint Ronan’s was proud to be part of this from the very start. A host of talks, workshops and author visits (as well as yours truly poetry busking) formed the backbone of the programme.
So, when Tom Palmer came to talk to us about his books, we had also invited other schools in the vicinity.
To make the most of an author visit, the children need to know not only that the author is coming, but also what kind of books they write. Luckily Tom Palmer’s website has lots of free reading material, so with each English group I teach I spent one lesson in the week of the author visit going through some of his book. Because the extracts I chose to read from the books ended in cliffhangers and I didn’t reveal how the story continues, the pupils got really excited and discussed possible plot developments amongst themselves. It was great to stand in the lunch queue and listen to pupils arguing over whether Jatinder scores from his free kick. With the soil thus prepared, the pupils were all ears at the talk. Another important element to bear in mind is to make sure that each child can buy at least one book from the author. This means the enthusiasm and desire to read are immediately converted into reality. Having the book signed by the author (Tom also drew a little sketch in each book, depending on the topic!) is the icing on the cake. After the visit many children held Palmer books in their hands (no, no pun coming there) and were genuinely enthusiastic about them and reading them voraciously.
A number of children also went to the literature festival, which was very well received. So – nothing to stop a repeat next year with a similarly inspiring author. It all shows how a little (or a lot in the case of the festival) preparation can reap rich dividends.
Kornel Kossuth has loved English since a young age and began teaching it to children ten years ago. Before turning to teaching, he was a lawyer and (briefly) a diplomat. A published poet, poetry busker and poetry blogger, he is also the author of a number of English resources and is currently working on textbooks for years 7 and 8.