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Bounce Back to School 3: escapism and humour

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Bounce back to school with escapism and humour. Sometimes the real world can just seem too much to deal with and escaping into a book can really help. I would like to share some more suggestions of books and areas of your bookstock that could support your recovery plans and ways forward for the next academic year. Again I hope some of the titles mentioned are available to you in school and that you are also introduced to something new. (Catch up on last week’s Bounce Back Blog here)

Reading for pleasure nurtures happiness and fulfilment as children escape reality and explore worlds that offer a deluge of experiences that can both enlighten and detract from the everyday and also give a degree of life perspective. Now would be a good time to remind children to lose themselves in literature, to seek refuge in reading by adding some literary quotations to your book corners or library walls. There are so many to choose from. If you have yet to discover this wonderful title by Charles Mackesy I highly recommend it as a source of comfort for yourselves and your pupils; it is packed with aspiration.

“Wherever I am, if I’ve got a good book with me, I have a place I can go and can be happy” J.K Rowling

Of course the value of the shared reading experience goes without saying but sometimes the solace of privately withdrawing into a comfort read is just what the doctor ordered. We all know Daniel Pennac’s ‘Rights of the Reader’ – one of which is ‘the right to escapism’ and another is ‘the right to reread’ so if children want to stick with their comfort reads – let them. For some it might be an essential coping strategy, whether they realise it or not.

Fear of the unknown 

One thing children can’t escape from at the moment is the wearing of masks and for some seeing others wearing masks will be fun and for others it will be quite frightening. It is useful in an educational setting to normalise the wearing of masks. This can be done through exploration of jobs where mask wearing is normal practice. 

Research into the purpose and uses of masks in professions and the entertainment industry will provide knowledge and dispel any fear. Mask making is common practice in art and design. Use this activity to explore the purposes: protection or to conceal identity, practicalities and disadvantages of mask wearing: comfort and communication. 

This simple exercise will help to draw attention to how feelings are communicated when the mouth is hidden:

Hold a piece of paper up to your face to cover your mouth. Can you read feelings through the eyes? (this activity can be found in our Quick Guide to Polly Dunbar’s Penguin). As well as helping children to express and recognise feelings in others you could also use the opportunity to develop empathy with members of society such as the hard of hearing, who use lip reading as one form of communication. 

Medical staff, scientists and cleaners are all mask wearers under normal circumstances.  If you are looking at the Second World war home front war you could draw attention to the issue and use of gas masks particularly to children. You may wish to extend the focus to superheroes (easily linked from medical staff at this current time) or when looking at festivals and cultural celebrations (carnival masks, masquerade, mayans). 

The Arts have suffered a great deal as a result of the pandemic. It is so important that children do not lose connection with culture. Ensure the arts are represented in your displays and where possible book sharing activities. A virtual museum tour will provide valuable cultural capital. You could create your own museum gathering together books around historical artefacts, areas of science and technology or art and sculpture.

The ‘Welcome to the Museum’ series offers some wonderful collections and there are many titles produced in conjunction with the British Museum, the Science Museum and the Tate. Linking the structure of the museum to the self can provide children with the opportunity to reflect on their family heritage and local history.

Surround children with art, theatre, music and joy. Here are three arts titles that have been reviewed by our amazing team of teachers and literacy specialists. You can search our reviews by genre, theme, subject and age to find more great books.

One of the ways we have nourished our brains over the last few months is through humour. Comedy can be a great source of comfort when times are hard. Obviously for many there has been a lot of heartbreak and pain through this experience and they deserve support and care but for the vast majority of the country being separated from friends and extended family members has resulted in boredom and loneliness and the tedium of a limited daily routine. Seeing the humour in a situation can diffuse tension and bring perspective.

Many of these titles are reviewed by our expert review panel and available for purchase in our online bookshop.

Curated Funny Forest collection for junior readers are full of riotous reads.

Reading Aloud

If you feel your class dipping a little. If you have had a difficult assembly, lesson or even a wet break and everyone is in need of some light relief, share a funny poem or even tell a few jokes – use a read-aloud opportunity to lift the spirits of your class. We recently received a film clip of a teacher reading a poem to her class, while they washed their hands – a ingenious way of ensuring they spend the required time, whilst benefiting from the read aloud experience.

Now is the perfect time to replenish your read-aloud collection and indulge in sharing your favourite reads with the class. Love for a book is infectious. If you tell your children that you really enjoyed a story, you are likely to have a waiting list before you have finished sharing the blurb. Have you tried our ‘5 a Day’ Read Aloud Challenge? Find out more by watching our Read Aloud webinar and more on the practical benefits of reading aloud in next week’s blog. If you subscribe to our Take One Book teaching resource you can play all our teaching strategy webinars via the website.