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Author Neil Griffiths Inspires Our Students And Their Teachers

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." - Confucius.

On Wednesday 19 March we were delighted to welcome Neil Griffiths, author of many popular children’s books to our primary school.

Neil is passionate about reading for pleasure and he was a primary school head teacher for 13 years before taking on the role of director of a National Literacy Project for the Basic Skills Agency.

Key Stage 1 and Early Years Cubs students were treated to a story telling session where Neil brought many of his books to life by drawing the children into a magical world of stories and humour. Excited children were delighted to watch their teachers being dressed up as the “Scarecrow who Wouldn’t Scare” and their imaginations were fired up by contributing to the narrative with actions and responses.

“It was really funny when Mr Broadbent dressed up as a scarecrow. I was the mouse in the story.” Betty Burford, 2X

“I liked pretending to be the characters from the story, it was fun!” Isaac Lenoir, Year 1

“I loved the journey of the boat. All the teachers had to have an instrument. Miss Wakelin tried to change her instrument and Miss Davies had a warning for bad playing. It was really funny!” Rachel Kwan, 2X

After a busy day working with the children Neil Griffiths then led a humorous and thought provoking session for primary teaching staff.

We were challenged as teachers to reflect about the importance of inspiring children to develop a love of reading.  Part of the discussion was considering why fewer children in the UK now read, and we were reminded that one of several reasons was the increasing use of technology.

Neil reinforced the importance of spending quality time both at home and at school with children simply enjoying books. His message was that getting children to love books was one of the best strategies for ensuring children become successful readers.  He discussed the importance of good role models and encouraged us to share our own personal favourites with the children.  We demonstrate, in this way, how important reading and books are, and how they contribute to our lives.

But most of all he challenged us to make reading to children of all ages exciting and stimulating.  He suggested that as teachers we should always perform as actors.  We were schooled in the use of our voice and in the variety of facial expressions we could use.  Can you imagine the sight of all our staff showing ‘shock’ with eyes wide, hands up and gasps aloud?  Or hear us practise saying ‘whisper’ 5 different ways?

His demonstration of how we should read to children was a master class.  He kept us enthralled as he demonstrated lots of strategies to capture and hold interest.  As he read to us we were eager and fearful to know if the bear was on the next page…or guess how the mouse would hide the gigantic strawberry.  Check out the book ‘The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear” by Don and Audrey Wood to see!

Neil was a star performer and his skill at commanding and entertaining us reminded us of how we can similarly enthrall and motivate our students, whatever their age.  At the same time he challenged us as teachers to ‘raise our game’…there is no doubt the children will benefit.

Thanks, Neil!

- Elizabeth Wood, Year 4 Class Teacher
- Eleanor Jess, Head of Key Stage 2