I drove over the Humber Bridge yesterday for two school visits courtesy of Hull Schools Library Service. The bridge is an imposing structure and there’s something grand about entering a region over a long stretch of water; it’s rather like a soldier entering a castle via the drawbridge, only it’s a much longer drop if you fall off your horse!
the Humber Bridge (toll £1.50) Image ©coolchaser.com
I spent the day with Kay Walton from Hull SLS and our first port of call was Eastfield Primary School. I knew straight away we were in for a good day as the notice board next to the office in the main entrance was all about reading. Take ten merits for that, Eastfield.
After a hearty rendition of Cauliflowers Fluffy in the hall I was introduced to the school by Mrs Beal, the headmistress. Mrs Beal was wearing a gorgeous tomato-red shift dress with ‘killer heel’ shoes to match – another sign that this was a school with a difference.
I was then as awesome as usual for half an hour, talking to the school about how I became a writer and finishing with a reading from It’s a Book by Lane Smith, before being whisked to the school library.
I say school library – I mean the newly-refurbished-extended-and-resplendent-with -added-murals school library. There, Kay and I were joined by the staff and also members of the Construction Department from Hull College, who’d been involved in the refurbishing.
Mrs Jackson (teacher) to my left and Darren from Hull College to my right with pupils from Eastfield School Council. Photo © Rachael Bridge, PR & Communications Officer at Hull College
Darren putting the finishing touches to Matilda. I thought it was great that the school linked up with a local college on this project. It gave the college students excellent work experience and the school gained from their expertise and talent. Darren and his team have patented some ace library furniture. One piece was a ‘Book Chair’ – a chair designed to look as if it was constructed from real books. Every school library should have one! Check out the Construction Department for details – they were only £70 each.
Here I am with a few members of Eastfield School Council. There were about twenty children invited to the library opening. What was the first thing they did? Head straight for the books? Admire the murals? Nope. Belly diving onto the bean bags, of course. Mind you, I don’t blame them – bean bags are a must in a children’s library. That and secret corners to read in peace. Photo © Rachael Bridge at Hull College
After all that excitement I met the Y3, Y4, Y5 and Y6 classes back in the hall. They were an enthusiastic lot and it was a pleasure to meet them. Enjoy your library, kids. Love it, live in it, cherish it and when you’ve messed it up a bit, ask Kay and her team back in to bring you loads of new books.
After lunch (Spanish Omelette in a friendly café near the SLA HQ) Kay drove me to Oldfleet Primary on the other side of the city. This time I had to put my creative writing head on and let the Y5s in on some trade secrets about where ideas come from.
Like at Eastfield Primary, the class was enthusiastic and engaged, buzzing with ideas and coming up with some super openings to their stories. Best of all, they took on board my advice on how to ‘polish’ their work – that’s always a good sign
It was easy to see why Y5 at Oldfleet were so receptive. When Kay and I entered, their class teacher, Mr Good, was reading to them from a Cormac McCarthy novel. Not only that, during the writing exercise, Mr Good joined in and was keen to read out his piece. He is a poet – that’s kind of 90% towards being an ideal primary school teacher, in my opinion.
After that it was back over the Humber Bridge and home. Thank you so much to everyone I met yesterday – especially to Kay and Angela Jackson who looked after me so well. I was honoured to have been the writer chosen to deliver such a special day and I had a super time.