Fully Booked

Fully Booked is the name of Shrewsbury’s annual Book Week – or Book Extravaganza as I’ve come to realise. It is the high point in the library calendar and definitely the busiest week of our year. It has taken weeks and weeks of planning and preparation but was a fiesta of inspirational reading activities and great fun to be part of.

This year we loosely had the theme of ‘mystery’ as we ran a Murder by the Book crime game in the senior library for all of Year 8. This involved them all sitting a detective exam (based on riddles) to choose their ‘lead detectives’ – there were 4 in each class. The game was competitive and points were scored for finding out who the murderer was but also how and why the crime was committed (using the available clues and evidence). Library staff wore CSI jackets for the day and kept the senior library closed to all but Year 8 – it was a crime scene after all. This piqued the interest of all the other year groups who couldn’t get in! I now have requests for ‘special activities ‘ for them too.

It was so much fun that year 8 asked if they could do another one! Maybe next year…

On Monday we all wore sticky labels on ties which had the name of our favourite book.

The idea was to chat to each other about books. We have 1700 children and approx 300 staff including catering, security, finance and admin etc. It was a lot of stickers to cut up and distribute. Obviously some folk forgot or didn’t bother but largely people engaged. In fact the non-teaching staff were delighted to be included in the activity. So huge thanks to Rosalind at Ripley for sharing that idea with me. It was a great starter for our week.

In the middle of the week we ran a reading fair. This was a co-operative initiative with the Literacy coordinator. Juniors could register to take part and the library was busy cutting out cardboard which the kids then decorated with their favourite book. They had to show an understanding of the author/publisher, setting, plot, mood etc and be creative. We had 59 entries which went on display after school on Wednesday. That day the Heat Index reached 41 (the point when outdoor activities get cancelled) but as this was after school the show went on. In sweltering heat we judges squeezed through throngs of proud parents armed with cameras to talk to each presenting child (or team) to check that it was their own work and that they did understand the story . The photos here show the high standards of work and to say that I was impressed would be an understatement. Judging was very difficult.

Wednesday was also our Where’s Wally themed day in the library. We all dressed as Wally/Wanda. The children did puzzles and games from the books. Every single Wally book (including the extras I had bought) were borrowed.

Thursday and Friday were the author visit days. David Bedford was over from the U.K. and we ran workshops with all our Year 1 & 2 children about his picture books and they got to make a little book of their own. Then David talked to Year 4 about his football stories and they made up a group story. He was an inspiring speaker and we sold many of the books at the end of each day.

David even popped into my Year 5 Excellent Readers group to talk with them about an upcoming reading competition.

In addition to all this members of SMT and other key figures came to read stories in the library after school to a dedicated core of pre-prep kids who thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Teachers also volunteered to read in a special story tent, put up in the playground, each break and lunchtime throughout the week. (A challenging task against the cacophony of noise!)

We ran a myriad of lunch time activities including an I Spy wall, a digital scavenger hunt, guess the character competition and daily breakout box challenges.

We ran a bookmark competition and a Tweet a Mystery competition for the seniors. Teachers in the senior school were asked to share a book that inspired them in their subject and whole year groups from the senior school went to read their favourite story to the little ones.

In addition each class in the junior school decorated their classroom door as a book and I am SO glad that I didn’t also have to judge that one!!!!

Running alongside all this is a major Family Reading Challenge where parents undertake to read to their child/children. They sign up and get a sheet then they choose a fiction, a non-fiction, an ebook, a book from a selected shelf of crime/ Mystery stories and a ‘book in a bag’ (it’s a mystery what you get). The objective is to read from all 5 categories to gain a ‘detective certificate’. Families who read 2 from each section can get an ‘inspector’ certificate and those who read 3 will be ‘secret agents’

This activity is hugely popular and on reflection perhaps should be run as a stand alone at a different time of year. We just couldn’t cope with the volume of issues and returns during the week. The parents have until Sonkran to complete this but they ‘peaked’ now.

Then there was a book fair running all week

And a book swap stall in the playground each morning run by the English dept.

But the ‘piece de resistance’ of the whole week was the Friday dress up day. Everyone in the junior school was a book character and it was amazing. The library team had chosen to be the Alice in Wonderland ensemble and the costumes created were stunning. Unfortunately though the Bangkok weather turned from its typical blistering sunshine to a tropical storm just at the time of the Book Character parade. (So yes, it did rain on my parade…) And boy did it rain! The entire playground was flooded in a short space of time.

Consequently the parade deteriorated into a squash in the smaller covered area. This was followed by an exciting assembly where all the various prizes were awarded.

Which was all followed by copious quantities of gin… (not for the kids)

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