Lewis James McPartlin, an S1 pupil at St Andrews’ and St Bride’s High School in East Kilbride, reflects on how his school celebrated World Book Day this year.
St Andrew’s and St Bride’s S1 choose David Walliams in 2017 survey
Every year, St Andrew’s and St Bride’s High School conducts a survey to find the most admired children’s author in S1. In 2017 the favourites were: in 3rd place, ‘Harry Potter’ author JK Rowling; in 2nd place, creative genius Roald Dahl; and in 1st place, funny man David Walliams.
The winners were decided by a popular vote that all first year pupils took part in by writing down their current favourite three authors. These three acclaimed writers have remained strong favourites throughout the years, as shown in previous survey results.
The full results revealed that there was a wide variety of genres voted for, including horror, fantasy, real life, humour, mystery, adventure and dystopian fiction. Overall, there were over 50 authors mentioned. Last year’s favourite author, Jeff Kinney, has quite obviously fallen out of favour with first year pupils, as he has dropped down to 5th place. Suzanne Collins, famous for ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy, has been knocked off the leader board completely by James Dashner, dystopian creator of ‘The Maze Runner’ series. Teachers were pleased to see names such as John Green (‘The Fault in Our Stars’), Charlie Higson (‘Young Bond’ series and ‘The Enemy’ series) and Michael Grant (‘Gone’ series) appear as their books are aimed at older readers. Authors such as Lemony Snicket and Charles Dickens have appeared to resurface in popularity, perhaps because their famed books have recently been produced into both movies and a television series (‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’); the same is implied with the ‘Maze Runner’ books. This suggests that perhaps watching film adaptations inspires children to go and read the original story. Speaking to teachers, they are happy with this tactic, as long as it gets kids reading!
Reading is important as it helps build your vocabulary, become more intelligent and perceptive of the world around you. It develops and unlocks a more diverse world of imagination, and encourages others to write about themselves. Professor Ellis, from the University of Strathclyde, believes that ‘reading shapes the sort of society we live in.’ She also believes it’s ‘fundamental for employability in nearly all sectors of the modern job market.’ Reading is in no way exclusive to English as a subject; it branches out to every aspect of our lives. As Professor Ellis clearly states, it is vital to society and our lives: there will never be a time when reading is not a useful skill to have.
Mrs Lyon, Principal Teacher of English: ‘It comes as no surprise that our pupils love the work of Rowling, Dahl and Walliams. We see them reading these books with voracious appetites. Such a wide range of authors on the list reflects growing interest and engagement with reading across year groups. Long may it continue!’
Mrs Mullen, Headteacher, agrees stating that: “seeing that so many of our pupils are engaging with and enjoying reading is tremendous. Reading expands our vocabulary and improves our spelling and writing skills, it helps to enhance our thinking and analytical skills increasing our general knowledge and understanding of the world around us. It also helps to improve our focus, concentration and memory skills but most of all allows us to take some time for ourselves. Reading is a great stress buster and there’s nothing better than taking time to ‘lose ourselves’ in a good book. World Book Day helps us to highlight these benefits and gives us the chance to enjoy and celebrate our favourite books and authors.”
Events across the school marked World Book Day, from a whole period of ‘Drop Everything and Read’ for S1 – S3, to a special one-off menu provided by the catering team with literary references (Wonka’s Flappy Jacky Chocolate Madness, anyone?), and a scavenger hunt created by the school librarian. Drama also marked the celebrations with a special performance.
- Be a reader yourself and model reading in front of your child. It can be anything – newspapers, novels and (most) magazines. Children learn by example, so set a good one!
- Talk to your child about their reading. Ask questions about what’s happening in their stories, which characters they like and dislike, and what’s going to happen next. The possibilities are endless!
- Make your home a book-friendly environment. Make books as easily accessible for your child as possible. Make use of East Kilbride’s excellent libraries and book shop by signing your child up for a library card or taking them to speak to booksellers.
- Create a reading habit. Aim for a few nights a week where reading is the only activity allowed for half an hour. Put those tablets, consoles and smartphones away! Persist through any initial resistance: it will be worth it in the end!
- Browse for books that meet the passions of your child and let them choose. For every interest, there are at least a dozen books. Young Adult fiction is the most exciting it has ever been so get in there and experiment with as many genres as possible. All it takes is one book to spark a love of reading that will last a lifetime.
- Rewards can work well, especially in the short run. Setting up a system in your house that awards points or prizes for reading can be the kick-start that makes your child pick up a Penguin… Classic.