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CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK 2011: The parent helper’s perspective

Posted on Oct 4, 2011

In many schools, especially primary schools, running events such as Children’s Book Week can only be done with the support of volunteers, often parents, willing to give up their time to help in schools. I doubt there will be a school more lucky this week than the school where Zoe’s daughters go to. Because Zoe is quite simply marvellous and utterly dedicated to developing a love of reading in the school community. She has worked amazingly hard to organise a whole week of activities for her daughters’ school. I wish Zoe all the success in the world for this week, and really wish we could just clone her, because there are so many schools around the country who need someone just like her.

There is a whole array of activities which Zoe has been describing in her blog (see all entries under the tag Children’s Book Week) but I wanted to share with you her particularly amazing book week menu, which will be served to all children in the school cantine TODAY!. What an achievement!

Celebrating Children’s Book Week
The Themed School Dinner!

We’ve got a great cook at M and J’s school and in collaboration with her we have worked out a school dinner menu which meets all the dietary requirements laid down by the school and local authority. Whilst initially we had hoped for a meal with a single author/book theme we found it just impossible to match that to all the different food the school is required to offer. Thus we’ve ended up going for a slightly more smörgåsbord literary approach:

Can you tell which books inspired which dish?
Between now and October 4th (the day this dinner will be served) teachers will be reading these books to their classes to try and make sure all kids are familiar with the books being referenced:

  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (2 pies will be offered, one lamb, one vegetarian, and both pies will have purple prickles all over the pie crust)
  • The Lighthouse Keeper’s Picnic by David Armitage and Ronda Armitage
  • Jack and the Giant Beanstalk
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter
  •  I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child (this side dish is mashed potato for those of you who don’t know the book)
  • Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
  • Little Red Hen – if you can recommend a particularly beautiful version I’d love to hear from you!
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Our cook will make a showpiece sponge cake in the shape of the caterpillar.
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (we’ll be using the version illustrated and adapted by Emma Chichester Clark and the Little Golden Books version of Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, as these are more appropriate age wise for M and J’s infant school)
  • The Gingerbread Man
  • Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Brown
  • That Pesky Dragon by Julie Sykes (in this story the dragon’s breath turns milk into yoghurt)
  • Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski. Meg’s potion will actually be a juice mixture ladled out of a cauldron.
  • Some of these books the school already had, others we’ve ordered through the library, and the last few are from my own collection which I’m loaning for the duration.
    During dinner time a variety of activity sheets will be available on the dinner tables acting as place mats which will encourage the children to talk about the books featured on the menu. After dinner they will be able to take the activity sheets away with them.

    Activity sheets used for book themed school dinner

    Theses activity sheets are available here:
    Green Eggs and Ham
    The Gruffalo
    Peter Rabbit
    Charlie and Lola
    The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    Handa’s Surprise
    Meg and Mog
    Jack and the Beanstalk

    The hall will be decorated with streamers, and I’m hoping to make bunting not unlike this from Childhood 101, with the front covers of books featured in the school dinner menu. We’ll also have hard copies of all these books on a mobile shelving unit by the serving hatch and will be encouraging the kids to pick up and read the books over lunch if they would like to.
    Extra puddings are being made so they can be offered to parents a little before the normal school day ends; parents and carers are being invited to visit the school in the afternoon, see what’s been going on for the day, socialise and sample the cook’s bookish bites.
    Whilst we’re holding this special school dinner for the UK’s Children’s Book Week you could adapt it for the Children’s Book Week where you are (find out more here about in Australia, here about in the USA and here in Canada), to celebrate World Book Day, or a given author’s birthday at any time of the year.
    Book themed meals don’t have to be just for kids – I stumbled on this link with suggestions for book themed dinner parties. I’d love to host one – let me know if you want an invite!
    What else could we do with our school dinner to add a bit more magic? What have you done at similar events which has worked well?

    My thanks to Twitterers AliB68, Tasha Goddard, Library Mice, fairyglass, ljbarton, thatkat, seawooddesigns, melissamarch, creany73, smilinglikesuns, vwallop, plus2poin4, crumbsfood, samatlounge, GoGoKabongo, PennamitePLR, kwac71, lesleyanneweir, jessthereader, haomamablog, maverickbooks, nurturestore, candyliongirl, damyantipatel and flossieteacake and the JISC mailing list for Children’s Literature who helped me brainstorm some of the ideas presented here.

    Text © Playing by the book. See original post here.

    Many thanks to Zoe for letting me reproduce her post and the very best of luck for the rest of the week!

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    3 Comments

    1. How fantastic! Sounds really great. Hope it all goes well.

    2. Thanks so much Melanie for all your kind words, they and all your support are a source of inspiration for me. Lunch went brilliantly – I was particularly amazed by how many children opted for green eggs and ham!

    3. I am so glad it went well!
      I remembered lately an activity I did at my previous school which is dinner-ish related. It is called “Guess who is coming to dinner”: you set a table for a dinner party on each plate you put clues so children can guess dinner guests who are all book characters (for example a gold ring for Frodo). It worked well as an open evening thing in the library.

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