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I am a secondary school librarian and I’m starting to think about World Book Day 2014. I would like to get the whole school involved this time – I was wondering whether you have any suggestions for activities that teachers from a variety of different subjects can do with students during their lessons on the day, to give it a real cross-curricular feel. The easier for me to plan and set up the better!

This is an excellent question and a person after my heart planning WBD well in advance!

There are a couple of things that you could do, depending on your overall goal. For something to be ‘whole-school’ it doesn’t necessarily have to be during lesson time. In fact, utilising the first 20-25 minutes of the school day can be quite powerful, so registration therefore, gives you the opportunity to have students starting the day in the way you want them to.

You could therefore have, during the registration period, form tutors talking to students about either their current reads or books they have read over their lifetime that have had an impact on their lives. The ability for young people to see how a book has shaped someone’s life can be very inspirational and leave a long-lasting impression. This is the same with young people seeing that the adults in their lives are passionate readers and value it as an important aspect of their lives. And make sure you keep up-to-date with World Book Day’s Writes of Passage: 50 Books That Will Change Your Life campaign.

The value of talking about books can’t be underestimated either. A lot of young people go through the school day without having a meaning conversation, especially one with an adult where they are challenged to think and talk in different ways. Therefore, simply talking about books becomes a powerful opportunity to engage students in conversation and to show the power of a book.

Moving on from form times, you might like to create a buzz around the school by having teachers pick book characters from fiction that they feel are related to their own subject area such as a maths teacher choosing Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time or a music teacher selecting Flynn from A Note of Madness. Students then have to work out the book related to the character and get all the staff selections correct. Prizes can be given.

An extension of the form time idea might be to have a number of members of staff talking at various points in the school day and around the school about a book that is important to them. You might want to choose different places from the library to show that reading can happen anywhere. In fact the stranger the place the better! This might also take the form of staff reading to students at break and lunchtime just for 5 minutes having chosen a book that they feel reflects their subject. We’ve had some great experiences at our school doing this, and where it has been most successful is where we have gone to an area where lots of students are just sitting around talking.

However, if you want students to see the importance of books during their lesson times, you could always ask teachers to use a picture of a book as a starter activity. Students have to discuss in pairs/groups what they feel the learning objective for that lesson might be. Teachers may wish to provide students with a blurb for that book or some bullet points to help guide them. This is a really easy to organise idea that all teachers will be able to use, but won’t be seen as too much work for them or deviating too much from the lesson. For the plenary they may also ask students themselves to think of books that they feel link to the learning objective for that lesson.

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