This week, Newcastle University’s School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics and Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books were delighted to welcome Professor Michelle Martin, Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor in Children and Youth Services from the University of Washington.
Newcastle was Michelle’s last stop on a quick trip around the UK, so we were really pleased she managed to fit in a research day at Seven Stories’ Collections, a visit to Seven Stories’ exhibitions, and last night’s free public event: Bug Eyes, Bird Brains and Bat Wings: Read-a-Rama Brings Nature to Life!
Now, when I think of typical academic events, I think of lectures, Q&As, panel discussions… this was far from it.
Alongside her academic work in the field of children’s literature, Michelle is a Gold Award Girl Scout and works with her students on her literacy immersion programme for children, Read-a-Rama, which was the focus of our workshop.
Michelle’s Read-a-Rama programme uses children’s books as a starting point for activities which engage all the senses. The mantras of Read-a-Rama are “100% engagement 100% of the time” and “Dead time will kill your program” – and our evening with Michelle certainly lived up to that!
We sang action songs, learnt sign language and had a go at some simulation games. We played being rabbits and foxes, embraced our inner moths and used our sense of smell. We even learnt origami to create our own ‘Not a Boxes’ from Antoinette Portis’ book.
As a former Brownie leader, I certainly learnt a lot and really enjoyed the evening. Thanks Michelle, and we hope to see you again soon!