Saturday, 15 March 2008

Captain Underpants

I was having coffee at a friend's house and there were three of us bemoaning the National Literacy Strategy.

OK, there were two of us bemoaning the National Literacy Strategy and I was listening because I don't know a whole lot about it.

Janet had been to a seminar given by Neil Griffiths, the man behind the Story sack idea. The what? The Story sack idea! The concept of collecting props to accompany a story and keeping them in a sack. The sack is used when the story is told and the props make the story more engaging. It's a method that encourages literacy.

Anyway, Neil, known by his former pupils as Mr Griffiths, used to be a head teacher and had an awakening that made him aware that his future lay in the advancement of the teaching of literacy.

During his talk he expressed his disappointment with the National Literacy Strategy citing the high boredom factor of the associated books starring characters such as Biff, Chip and Floppy. I have read the Biff, Chip and Floppy books and they are worse than awful.

All of this is useful when explaining behaviour, particularly Hannah's behaviour today. She had been given a book token at school which could be exchanged for one of a number of books with specific titles. I had though that, as a recent fan of the Paddington books (which I love and have to read with the dulcet tones of the rather marvellous Sir Michael Horden in my head) she would choose the Paddington title available. She didn't. Instead she chose Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets.

I completely understand. Paddington is a safe choice. Captain Underpants on the other hand is a bit naughty, a bit rude, a bit more exciting.

She read the first chapter whilst walking along the High Street after we had left the shop. At home by the time I'd made a cup of tea she had read four chapters.

That's the way to encourage literacy!

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