Spotlight on: Belmont Junior School

Monthly posts focusing in on Patron of Reading activity in different Haringey schools.

May’s post comes from Nell Phoenix – wonderful storyteller and patron of reading at Belmont Junior School.

‘Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read’ Woody Allen

 Hi, I’m Nell Phoenix, Performance Storyteller
I’ve been Patron of Reading at Belmont Juniors for a year now. It worried me at first that I was not the ‘famous published writer’ that they were expecting – but ‘world-wide touring storyteller’ seemed to go down well.  I knew anyway that I could share some fabulous stories and help to cultivate interest and excitement about all sorts of reading.

Nell Phoenix spotlight May 2016

The school was up for any suggestions, so I started with a wild day of whole school ‘Storytelling Market’: Year 6s work on a bare-boned story and within 15 minutes have the story off the page and on its feet. Year 6s then tell to Year 5s, Year 5s to Year 4s and so on down the school, until the youngest tells the stories back to the Year 6s who first chose the tales. Hundreds of years of oral tradition in a day! It was a great way to make contact with every child in the school and encourage them to own the stories.

I have also run storytelling sessions for all individual year groups. Many children who don’t initially engage with stories in books love a story well-told, of course!

One boy came up to me in a subsequent session and said,’ I got my mum to buy that book of the story you told us.’ ‘Great,’ I said, ‘Which story was that?’ ‘BEOWULF’, he replied. Result!

I recently presented the school with Reader of the Week mascots. These were really popular – even with Year 6s. Each year group has a gorgeous animal hand puppet which is awarded weekly to the student who has developed their reading habit, or talked about a book, poem, or anything they’ve read. I’ll go in soon to check how well it’s going!