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Occold Primary School hosts inaugural Occold Book Festival




Children at Occold Primary School have been taking part in a week-long book festival. Pictures by Mecha Morton.
Children at Occold Primary School have been taking part in a week-long book festival. Pictures by Mecha Morton.

A primary school spent last week celebrating the magical world of books – with its very own book festival.

Occold Primary School hosted the inaugural Occold Book Festival, with events including visits from local authors and town bookshop Diss Publishing.

Literacy co-ordinator Emily Rowe said: “We have done small events in the last few years, like our book mastermind competition, then we’ve been building on it, until we said this year: ‘Let’s just fill a week’.”

During the seven days, the children designed picture books targeted at an audience their age, which involved interviewing other children to find out their likes and interests.

Events included visits from local authors and town bookshop Diss Publishing. Pictured: Jemima.
Events included visits from local authors and town bookshop Diss Publishing. Pictured: Jemima.

“We find that their writing is better when they put it in a book. It’s much more interesting and inspiring than an exercise book,” said Ms Rowe.

“One of the picture books is a story about trains, as one child from reception is obsessed with them, and another is about a naughty pet tiger.”

Because of such events, the school has seen a massive change in pupils’ attitudes towards books.

“We are trying to do lots of things like this to try to make reading less intimidating to children and help them find books that are right for them,” said Ms Rowe.

“Some children are always really enthusiastic, but then with others, it’s just a seed that you’ve planted and, in five or ten years, they will revisit it themselves.”

At the moment, many pupils – and teachers – love the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.

Amber and Alexander.
Amber and Alexander.

Inspired by the series, classes in Years 3 and 4 made their own versions of the books, with an official book launch on Thursday.

They were also visited by Peggy Hughes, from the National Centre for Writing in Norwich, who interviewed some of the budding young writers.

She said: “I was delighted to be invited to take part. These writers have produced some beautiful work, poems and stories and non-fiction, and were so articulate, funny and engaging in speaking about it.

“It’s really heartening to see the work being done by their teacher, Ms Rowe, and her colleagues, inspiring the pupils to read widely and write creatively.

“I’ve no doubt I’ll be crossing paths with these talented authors in the years to come.”

This article appeared in the Diss Express, June 7.


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