A busy and snowy World Book Day Week of school visits for me

A face in the snow

Well the country has had a challenging week with the snow and wind, accidents on the roads, people trapped on trains for hours, emergency services stretched to the limit and lots of schools closed. But I would like to thank all of the wonderful staff and pupils of the schools that I have visited this week for such a great time reading, performing and writing poetry.

I had a terrible journey from Manchester to Uttoxeter on Monday for my visit to St Mary’s C of E First School. It should have been less than 2 hours. I set off at 6:30am. I arrived at 11am! There was an accident on the M6 and the traffic just didn’t move at all for 1 hour 45 minutes. But at least I wasn’t stuck in a snow drift. Guess which of my poems I started with when I finally arrived.

Luckily, despite the weather, and having to get up early and clear the snow off my car, I made it to all of my other schools early for the rest of the week and they were open.

On Tuesday I was in Radcliffe-on-Trent Infants and Nursery School, and it was well worth the stay in the hotel just 7 miles away from them. I had a lovely email this morning as feedback from that visit that I would like to share with you.

“Thank you for your visit on Tuesday. I am glad you got home safely. We had snow days Thursday and Friday. The children and staff have been left really enthused by your visit. I had a couple of parents asking on Wednesday too about books so you may have had even more emails! I had a lovely email sent by a parent to the Head and Deputy Head so I thought you might like to read it…

Just wanted to a say a big thank you for organising the Bernard Young poet visit and the interactive sessions with him. Both my kids have been so inspired by him and poetry isn’t something we or they have read much of so been great to show them how poetry can work. Lucy has read every poem to us out the book she bought and loves the fact that it has been signed by him especially for her. Really lovely to see them so excited about it. Thank you, great idea. Please pass onto any other staff who have been involved in making it happen.”

I had great visits too with Bridgewater Primary, Little Hulton, Salford, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Winsford, and my 3rd visit to Summerville Primary School as their Patron of Reading, which I will write about in a separate post.

So all round a great week of poetry in schools and I also sold a good number of my new book, which was only published on 23rd February.

Snow poem on white board

A good snow poem produced as a class effort at Radcliffe-on-Trent on 27th Feb. The second poem we rattled off in a half hour session.

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Delighted that I’m now Patron of Reading for Oldham Hulme Grammar School

Bernard Young Patron of Reading for Oldham Hulme Grammar School

I’m delighted to announce that it has been confirmed today that I am Patron of Reading for Oldham Hulme Grammar School. We have some exciting things planned for my first visit on 12th September.

This is the second school that I am working with as Patron of Reading. The other is Summerville Primary School, Salford, where I have had one visit so far in May.

A Patron of Reading is a school’s special children’s author, poet, storyteller or illustrator. The school and their patron develop a relationship over a period of time. Everything the patron does is related to helping encourage and develop a reading for pleasure culture in the school.” Read more about the scheme on the Patron of Reading website.

It’s time to book a poet for National Poetry Day, 28 Sept 2017

It's not too early to book Bernard Young, poet, for National Poetry Day 28 September 2017

UK’s National Poetry Day is usually the first Thursday in October, but this year it has been brought forward by a week to 28th September 2017.

The theme this year is: FREEDOM

If you are lesson planning, there are a lot of free resources for teachers on the National Poetry Day Website, including lesson plans, tool kits and posters.

The change of week and the theme, Freedom, has been chosen because of working closely with the Hull City of Culture and the BBC this year. In 2015, I visited Thorseby Primary School, in Hull, for 3 days and they had Freedom as a theme then too. If you would like to read more about what we did over that period, I’ve written about it here.

If you’d like me to visit your school for poetry performance and workshops around National Poetry Day, please feel free to contact me.

National Poetry Day Theme Freedom 28 Sept 2017National Poetry Day 28 Sept 2017 Theme Freedom

World Book Day celebrates its 20th year on Thursday 2nd March

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2017 is the 20th year of World Book Day. It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

I’ve had some great visits to schools over the years in the week of World Book Day. Last year I visited seven schools just before and during World Book Day Week, mostly in Manchester where I am based. I blogged about it here.

It is always fun to see how teachers and students dress up as characters from their favourite stories. Such as the teachers from Albrough Primary School in 2015 (read more)  and Oldfield Primary School, gosh was that one really 2012? (Read more).

Teachers in fancy dress at Aldbrough Primary School

Aldbrough Primary School

Oldfield Primary School

Oldfield Primary School

There is still time to book me for sometime around World Book Day. For an idea of how a day of poetry workshops can work in a school see here. If you are interested, please contact me to check availability and cost.

What ever you do, I hope it is something booky!

Lots of class and individual poems created at Hollin Primary School

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Two great days at Hollin Primary School this week. Thanks everyone. Nicely captured in the twittersphere:

Concentrated half day poetry workshop with one year 3 class

Bernard Young half day visit to Chorlton CofE Primary school

Mostly, when I visit a school, I spend a whole day and work with all year groups, spending a little time with each, having kicked things off with a performance to the whole school. However, on Friday, linked to National Poetry Day, I had the pleasure of spending half a day with just one class at Chorlton CofE Primary School in Manchester – Miss Lowe’s year 3 class. This meant a more concentrated experience for the students in that class.

I performed to the class reading some poems from my books, some with guitar, and then answered their questions about being a poet. After that we wrote a poem about their school all together, with guitar accompaniment. Then I gave them some suggestions so they could write their own individual poems, which every child did. At the end of the session each child performed their poem to the rest of the class. All of this before lunch time! A very successful literacy lesson.

Thank you Year 3 and Miss Lowe for your enthusiasm and creativity. I hope this experience has nurtured a confidence with poetry which will stay for every day.

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Curie, Pankhurst and Wonderwoman in Hull

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I was thrilled to be invited back to spend 3 days in Thoresby Primary School last week. It is the second time I have been part of their Kaleidoscope festival. Once again pupils and staff gave a hundred percent and we produced class poems about Marie Curie, Emmeline Pankhurst, Fairtrade, India… and all sorts of heroes.

During this fortnight of exciting activities, the aim is to promote cultural awareness and confront equal opportunities issues in a positive way with a ‘celebration of diversity’. This year’s theme was heroes and people who have made a difference. Thoresby are prolific on social media, so I am including a few of their many tweets to give a flavour of the work produced.

I also spent a day in Stepney Primary School. The teacher who booked me remembered me doing a performance of my poem Orange Socks in a previous school. It is several years since I performed there last. I received a very warm welcome. I gave a performance to the whole school and then led workshops for KS2. They are taking part in a poetry slam shortly, and these workshops were to help get them started. I am sure they will do well. Break a leg!

Thanks again to both schools for a great time and such creative energy.

A busy week for World Book Day 2016

Poem by nursury school class

It’s a busy time for a poet this time of year, and for schools, what with dressing up and doing lots of reading and great creative writing.

The poem in the photo (inspired by my I Like What I Like – see video below) was written with Nursery Children at Audenshaw Primary School, Manchester as a class effort. We performed it at the end of the day to the rest of the school. I was there to celebrate World Book Day 2016 and worked with every age group. A wide variety of excellent poems were written and performed. I had a great time, so thanks to all the staff and pupils for working so hard and for making me very welcome.

In all I visited seven schools just before and during World Book Day Week. Thank you to Abingdon Primary School (Stockport),  Gorton Mount Primary Academy (Manchester) who have a fantastic steel band who played for me, Old Hall Drive Primary Academy (Manchester), Alexandra Park Primary (Stockport), Broadfield Primary (Oldham), and (last but not least) Silverdale Primary Academy (Newcastle-under-Lyme).

Thanks also to Authors Aloud who organised a couple of the bookings.

I like playing in the park
I like tig and hide and seek
I like swimming and paddling
I like what I like I do

I like ice cream and Mexico
I like Sealife and Lego
Let’s say hello to our Leo
We like what we like we do

I like flowers and rainbows
I like hopscotch and videos
I like porridge it fills me up
I like what I like I do

Cutting it Fine for Manor Green Primary Academy

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I really thought I was going to be late. At 9.15 a.m I was due to perform to KS2 at Manor Green Primary Academy and my 4 mile journey ended up taking 45 minutes to complete. But I did make it with a few minutes to spare and was, after signing in, immediately presented with a cuppa. A good start.

Obviously I performed Traffic Jam as well as Explode, Brilliant, Orange Socks, Lollipop Lady (plus many more poems) before finishing off with a lively rendition of Ref Rap. Thanks (pupils and staff) for listening so well and for the enthusiastic participation.

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The rest of the day was spent leading hour long workshops in the hall (two classes at a time) with children working on their own, in pairs or larger groups. They worked well and within that hour I shared writing ideas, they wrote and we ended each session by listening to many of their new poems. A massive amount of poetry was composed that day.

Thanks to all at Manor Green for being so enthusiastic. I enjoyed my time with you and hope to see you again. Perhaps KS1 next time?

‘Light’ Poems at Tithe Barn Primary School (Heaton Mersey, Stockport) on October 5th

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I spent a great morning with a fantastic Year 6 class and their poetry loving teacher. I performed some of my poems and then got them writing. We kept to the National Poetry Day theme of ‘Light’ (which complemented the work they’d been doing in science).

As their teacher regularly gets them writing poetry I found they needed very little stimulus. I began with a short exercise based on the senses (e.g. If you could taste light what would it taste of? If you could hear it and it spoke to you what would it say? One answer was I’m faster than you!).

I then gave them a few writing options and suggestions to trigger their poems.

Light Bulb Moment – If you had a bright idea what would it be? What might you invent?

Trick Of The Light – I thought it was a…..(table?, tree? )
But it was a….(dog?, ghost?)

Lights Out – When the light goes
What lurks in the shadows?

Before lunch we managed to hear their new poems and fitted in a Q/A session where they asked me about writing and my life as a poet. A very satisfying morning. Thank you Tithe Barn for such a warm welcome. I left feeling quite light-hearted.