World Book Day is always a popular moment in the Junior School calendar. Classrooms and hallways bustle with a colourful array of literary legends as children celebrate the books that have captured their imaginations and fuelled, what we hope will be, a lifelong love of reading.
Underpinning the values of the day is a year-round programme of events at the Junior School to nurture pupils’ ongoing enthusiasm for the inspirational and transformative power of words. Across the year, there are author talks, book clubs, library assistant responsibilities, drama workshops, performance poetry, topical reading lists and creative projects to extend their engagement.
This week, to support World Book Day, Years 3&4 have been finishing their Miniature Library project, inspired by the long tradition of miniature books. Children have been working on their intricate projects at home and this week, brought them in to display on our new miniature bookshelves.
Y5&6 pupils have been encouraged to share photos of themselves reading in unusual locations for our ‘Caught Reading’ initiative. The week will conclude with a visit from writer author Sharna Jackson, who is popular for her children’s mystery books. Author visits are a regular feature throughout the year, with recent guests including Jeffrey Boakye, Lou Kuenzler and Jonathan Stroud.
Those with a particular interest in reading can apply to become a Library Assistant. Twelve representatives from Years 4, 5 & 6 are chosen to assist with the day-to-day duties of running the library. They also have assemblies to host; this term has seen the library assistants promote both World Book Day and National Storytelling Week, during which they read stories aloud to pupils at break times.
“I like being a library assistant because I get to recommend books to other pupils, and I’ve learnt things I wouldn’t know otherwise”, says Emily in Y5. Elsa (also Y5) concurs: “I like exploring the library and sharing new books with people.”
Children are encouraged to read beyond the curriculum and challenge themselves. Our Junior School Librarian provides a continually updated list of recommendations for each year group, as well as topical reading lists for Black History Month, International Women’s Day, and others. Book clubs bring pupils together to share and articulate their reading journeys.
The power of the spoken word is celebrated too, through drama workshops and productions, as well as our House Poetry competition, which took place recently and showcased a wonderful array of performances from pupils across the school. Our annual Shakespeare Week at the end of March will help to bring the Bard’s work to life through assemblies and sessions around school.
This year, the Junior School will be using the World Book Day event to fundraise for our school charity, World Villages for Children, who support schools around the world and provide books to aid them.
Lauren Johnston, Junior School Librarian, explains: “The benefits of reading from an early age have been proven in various studies over the years, and as an English department we see first-hand how reading for pleasure is one of the most beneficial activities a child can choose to do.
Not only does a pupil’s written work improve, due to their exposure to accurate spelling and grammar and a variety of vocabulary, but also their willingness to consider situations from different points of view. At an age where break time squabbles can seem like life-changing events, this is a skill from which every pupil can benefit.
Their discovery of worlds beyond their own through reading broadens their horizons, and novels featuring identifiable protagonists allow pupils to reflect on what they might do or how they might feel in that character’s shoes. Empathy is one of our core values as a school, so making time for reading, to set it up as a habitual activity, is something that we can be proud of striving to do.”