Our Author Visit: David Litchfield
In April 2017 the author and illustrator David Litchfield visited schools in Stirling as part of the Scottish Book Trust's School Event Programme. Here, Jennifer Alexander, Primary 2 Teacher at Strathblane Primary School, describes the activities her class enjoyed in preperation and following David's visit.
I am a teacher in Primary 2 in a First Level setting and I believe that a high-interest classroom is extremely important. In Primary 2 the children and I have worked hard to create a large library area for the children to sit in during guided reading as well as in their own time. The children in the classroom raised £300 in a sponsored read-a-thon and we decided to use this money to buy a reading chair designed by local wood sculptor, Robert Coia. This area has helped to engage children in their reading and is resulting in children making significant progress. The children in my class and I now enjoy having the opportunity to read every day, and we always finish the day with a story of their choice. In term 3 the whole school held a ‘Reading Week’, commencing 20 March 2016. During the course of the week the school provided many different reading opportunities for the children within the wider curriculum, including: meeting with literacy experts, visiting the Scholastic book stall, paired reading experiences, alphabet trails, librarian visits, a book swap and a character catwalk.
The Bear and the Piano
Before David visited, the school received two copies of his award-winning first picture book, The Bear and The Piano. When questioned, only one of the children had already read the story, so we took the opportunity to read it together. I read the story to the class before telling them about David Litchfield’s very special visit the following week. We looked at the front cover and discussed what the story may be about, there were lots of fantastic, imaginative ideas! The children in Primary 2 were very engaged with the story throughout, commenting on how much they loved the illustrations.
After reading the story, we reflected on the design of the front cover and why it was appropriate. The children’s enthusiasm for the story was very apparent and they enjoyed designing a new front cover for the book.
I believed that having another school event for Primary 2 with David Litchfield would support the children in being actively engaged and enthusiastic readers and I was not let down. The children were so excited to meet David and had lots of questions for him which he took the time to answer before reading his newest book, Grandad’s Secret Giant. This is David’s second author/illustrator picture book, published in April 2017.
After reading the second book, the children got the opportunity to be creative. They learned how to develop their skills in drawings by using sketching techniques that David shared and then used those developed skills when drawing ‘friendship’ on a piece of patchwork. All of the children’s individual patches were then incorporated onto a large outline of the Giant’s dungarees.
There was also an opportunity for pupils to buy both books. The children were very entertained by how fast David was able to draw pictures using his ‘sausages, burgers and spaghetti’ techniques when signing their books.
Since David Visited
Since David’s visit Primary 2 have been very busy! Right after the visit we completed our reviews for Scottish Book Trust. All of our reviews scored either four of five stars because we all enjoyed the visit so much! To learn a little bit more about Scottish Book Trust, we went onto their website. It looks really cool! We hope that a couple of our reviews are featured on there. We were also thrilled to see a post from our visit on David Litchfield’s Instagram page!
We were all so grateful to David for his fun visit so we decided to write a letter thanking him for coming to see us. We had to remember to include what our favourite memories of David’s visit were as well as all of the important information that a letter should hold. Below you can see a couple of examples of our letters:
Our Own Stories
In The Bear and the Piano, the Bear found a piano in the woodland. We have now written our own stories that follow a similar theme. Using David Litchfield’s story as a stimulus has really helped us to become more imaginative with our storylines!