Read and Feed: “Don’t call me Miss…”

“JennieJennieJennie! We wrote a story together! Look!”

I’d just bundled myself through the library’s doors when three lads grabbed me to show me their creation entitled Spy Boy:

Once there was a family with a dad, mum, brother, sister and baby boy. One day, the mum asked the brother to go to the shed to get onions and potatoes, so he did. As the boy picked up the onions and potatoes from the shed, he hadn’t realised he was standing on a hatch. Then he fell into darkness.

Thus the adventure begins! The three writers have expressed interest in setting up a Story Club once the project is over. Hooray! Next week will be the last session that I run and although Read and Feed has not always been easy – which as I mentioned I didn’t expect it to be – it has been incredibly rewarding as both a learning experience and in meeting the young people. Hopefully the library can nurture the passion that the ones who have enjoyed it and love writing have. I’ll definitely be checking in!

Week 3: Adventures in Graphic Novel land

During the circle time, a moment at the start of each session where I explain what we’re doing away from the crafting/writing table, I brought out the flipchart paper with their ideas on. Explaining that we were going to try to write a graphic novel / story but that we would firstly explore creative ways of explaining various concepts. They drew around their hands (at this point two were sent home by the library staff for drawing on each other – this seemed to calm everyone else down).I gave them a word each and asked them to name and use different senses to try to describe the word. This was harder than expected with a few of them asking me what to write, again I had to emphasise that it didn’t matter what they wrote; there is no right and wrong. (“But do leave the bad language out of it; there are little ones here; can use that at home!”) Again I had to remind the young people not to call me “Miss” but to call me Jennie to break down any potential “teacher/pupil” power relationships.

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Week 4: The Best Story EVER!

No “circle time” at the beginning of the session due to a couple of dissenters. Fair enough. So it was straight to the crafting/writing table! Continuing the art/storytelling theme, this week I bought in some pictures as stimulus (see the images below).  One girl wrote that their character was “Rochdale weather” which I told her that I thought was quite thoughtful. Using the questions developed for the Mapping Our Place workshop, we developed the characters/objects in order to write a “day in the life” story using a storyboard.   Many of the young people had come across them before. We talked about how TV and films are developed in this way and how the apps and games that they enjoyed similarly had a story. I mentioned that if that was something they wanted to do in the future – many of them I think are itching to create that “amazing popular app” then it’s good to think about what their characters think, feel, and what they would do when plunged into certain situations. I want to see Princess I Don’t Know How to Iron optioned CBBC!

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The feeling going into the final week

I’m feeling optimistic and am looking forward to the last session. I’m going to attempt mapping next week – using the idea of treasure maps, story maps – in order to create place together and use a giant map to connect everyone’s ideas. I really hope it works as it will involve a certain amount of circle time at the start!

I’m feeling like I will miss these weekly sessions – not tied to the PhD but still in Rochdale where I’ve been making more field notes alongside – but it has given me enough to think about in terms of how we can collaborate creatively and how this helps us to identify with place.


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