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Phantom Tollbooth Word Market

Imagine you go to a marketplace and instead of buying fruit and vegetables you buy words. Well, this is what Milo, hero of The Phantom Tollbooth does on one of his adventures in the land of Dictionopolis. "Get your fresh-picked ifs, ands…
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For you are a Kenyan child

For you are a Kenyan Child is a children's book not written by a Kenyan adult, but an American writer by the name of Kelly Cunnane and illustrated by a Spaniard, Ana Juan. As far as I'm concerned (and my own children I read it to), the prose…
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Pippi Longstocking

Ah, Pippi Longstocking. It is impossible not to love this girl. Gutsy, fierce and the ultimate powerful feminist, I think I'd secretly like to be Pippi. Anyway, something interesting happened yesterday whilst doing a Pippi Longstocking workshop…
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Philip Pullman's Alethiometer

Without this being a conscious choice, my monday afternoon creative writing groups seem to have divided into girls and boys as my after-school club is a group of girls and then I go on to do another session with boys. Now normally I am not in…
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Identity Poetry

My greatest challenge I find when I'm doing creative writing and poetry workshops is the time element - trying to squeeze everything I've planned (which always includes fun warm up exercises and small group discussions) into the timeframe…
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Writing from Art

A very enjoyable activity I did recently was to provide students with a piece of art and then ask them to form in their heads an idea of what had happened just before and just after the scene they are looking at. I chose Velazquez's 'The…
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Would you rather have a monkey to tickle or a bear to read to

John Burningham is such a brilliant illustrator and children's writer. His drawings and prose are iconic and quirky and one of the things I love about his books is that they are left open-ended, loose ends fluttering in the breeze, just perfect…
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Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson, beloved Scottish author of Treasure Island as well as a number of other books for children and adults and an abundance of poems and musical compositions, travelled a great deal throughout his life before finally making…
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How to start with poetry for children? Immersion, leisure, enjoyment, fun

'Poetry plays a powerful role in increasing students’ literacy skills in schools. But unless literacy starts with goosebumps, laughter, or contemplation, none of us would bother to read anything but bills, instructions and road signs. When…
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Benjamin Zephaniah's Imagine Nation

Benjamin Zephaniah. Wow, what an inspiration. Highly dyslexic, he left school at 13 being unable to read or write, had constant brushes with the law before turning his hand to poetry and making it accessible to all kinds of people in all kinds…