Ed Finch writes;
On October 1st last year something amazing happened at a little primary school just outside Liverpool. Teachers from across the North of England and beyond came together to share, discuss and celebrate all that’s best in reading in schools. The school was The District Primary in Merseyside and the event was ReadingRocks16
The tweets from that event flooded my timeline – pictures, videos, snappy quotes from inspiring speakers. From where I was sitting (in Wolverhampton as it happens) it looked like someone, somewhere was having exactly the sort of party that I’d like to be at – and I was missing it!
If you haven’t heard about Reading Rocks you should take a look at this feature from Educate magasine to get a feeling for the brilliant event that Mrs Wright and her team put on.
I remember tweeting on that day that someone should organise a similar event a little further south so I could get to it. A little later I realised that if you really want something to happen the best thing you can do is make it happen yourself. So here we are.
What I hope to see at Larkrise on April 1st is a coming together of people who share a passion for children’s reading. There’ll be teachers there, of course, but there’ll also be school librarians, head teachers, academics, consultatants, student teachers and parents (sorry if I missed you out – I want you there too) all there to celebrate, to question and to learn. There will be lots of laughter, lots of fun as people move around the school to try the book activities our pupils have set for them, to take pictures in the selfie booths, to check out what’s on offer in the market place and at the bookshop. There’ll be lots of listening, lots of talking. There might be some singing. People will leave energised and inspired. Hopefully they will leave having met some of their social media contacts in real life and turned their twitter buddies into real friends. Hopefully they will have made some brand new contacts. It’s not a conference – it’s a Spree!
I am humbled and amazed at the number and quality of people who have offered to give their time to come to the Reading Spree. The great Mary Roche is flying in from Ireland to share her expertise in developing children’s critical thinking through sharing texts, Darren Chetty will be helping us honk through the importance of representation in the books children read, Mat Tobin from Oxford Brooks University will be helping us decode picturebooks, Simon Smith (he’s from Whitby) will be sharing his irrepressible passion for children’s literature. There’s more but I’ll leave the whole list and the blogs for another page.
As well as the terrific people who have offered to come and present I’ve also been moved by the colleagues who have offered to help out with the event. Programming, organising and running the day will be a real team effort and it says something for the positivity of the teaching profession that, despite enormous pressures on teachers and the ridiculous workload they carry, they still want to give their time and energy to make something like this happen.
Where did the name come from? Well you can ask Martin Galway about that but there is a long connection between Larkrise Primary School and the Oxford Reading Tree which makes it particularly apposite. Maybe Floppy himself will come along to our Reading Spree – now that would make it a real celebration.