The last two weeks have been taken up with school visits for World Book Day. I would have needed a Tardis to get around all the schools in one day though, so instead the day became World Book Fortnight. (I would be very happy to use the Tardis next time, so if you are reading this Doctor, do bear that in mind for next year.)

I love going into schools as I get all the fun of being a teacher without any of the trials and tribulations. It must be how grandparents feel about looking after their grandchildren: I can muck about, make silly jokes, get the children rolling in the aisles and hyped up . . .

No, of course I make them do some work as well. For example, at West Town Lane Academy in Bristol last week I led a workshop with the Year 4s on how to build a story starting with only TWO WORDS. Yes, it is possible, as these incredibly enthusiastic children showed. They went back to class with the beginnings of a story which they promised they would write out in full for their teachers.

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West Town Lane’s theme for the day was ‘Bedtime Stories’, so everyone, even the teachers, had come to school in their pyjamas! I felt as though I was in a reverse nightmare, as I was the only one in the school hall in my normal clothes. I told the children that usually a writer can spend all day in their pyjamas if they want to, but that for World Book Day I had to get dressed – only to find that all the children had stayed in their PJs, so I was the odd one out. (Mind you, the headmaster was not wearing his PJs, I noticed . . .)

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At Bathwick St Mary’s in Bath the children had dressed up as their favourite book character. I talked to them about how I became a writer, what my favourite books were as a child and where I get my ideas from now for my animal books. They shared stories about their own pets and I encouraged them to go and write them all down after the talk.

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At Oldfield Park Infant School, also in Bath, I showed the children my first ever diary where put down my first attempts at story writing.  We talked about how stories can be made using pictures instead of or as well as words. We also discussed keeping a diary or an ‘ideas journal’ where you can write what you like without worrying about spelling and punctuation and just have fun with words and pictures. All writers have a notebook or a space where they start their ideas: this is not something they show to anyone else, so it doesn’t matter if there are mistakes in it.

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At King Edward’s Junior School in Bath the children had dressed up as their favourite nursery rhyme characters and the teachers had made a huge effort as well. One teacher came as Old Macdonald and even had a very life-like plastic pig with him! I did not dress up, but I did more than my fair share of animal impersonations as I talked about my pets and how they have inspired me to write.

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At Westonbirt Prep in Gloucestershire the children had read my book ‘Monkey Business’ before my visit. I told them about the real life stories behind the book and how I got the ideas for the follow up, ‘Monkey Madness’ which was published this January.

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If you would like to me come and visit your school to give a talk or lead a workshop, please get in touch with Authors Aloud at info@authorsaloud.co.uk. I would love to visit secondary schools to talk about reading and writing too: I have a new book coming out in July for Years 7-9 called ‘Summer’s Shadow’ which I will blog about soon.

I am free to do visits all year round, not just during World Book Day . . .Week . . . Fortnight!

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