BWS Day 5: Comely Park Primary goes crazy for books!

The Book Week Scotland spirit was alive and well at Comely Park Primary School in Falkirk.

The pupils and teachers have been celebrating books and reading all week with author visits, reading time with grandparents, arts and crafts, and dressing up. I visited the school this morning as they got ready to ring in Reading Hour. 

"Where do we start?" asked Miss Lucas, teacher of primary 4/4 at Comely Park. "This has been a really, really successful week. I can't believe how successful it has been. The children have talked books, slept books, they've actually lived books. They're coming in today filled with enthusiasm at the end of the week, the momentum has gotten bigger and bigger."

The school's activities have kept to the overarching theme of Scots language, rounding off on St Andrew's Day with Matthew Fitt throwing a hooley in the hall.

I asked Edwin from Primary 2 about his favourite part of Book Week. "I liked making book covers. We made one for our favourite book. I made one for Mr Majeika and the School Play by Humphrey Carpenter." Fitting, as he was dressed as the eponymous character today. It wasn't the only costume he wore this week. "On Monday we had a lady who came to tell us stories, and we dressed up in clothes from her country." Mara Menzies visited the school earlier this week to share stories from East Africa. Miss Lucas added that pupils and teachers alike got on board with her stories and it was lovely to see everyone so enthused.

Grandparents were invited to the school to read stories from their own childhood. "Grandparents have been a revelation," said Miss Lucas. "I could not believe the amount of effort they had put into it. They had the children eating out of the palm of their hand. The children were also interested in the story behind the book – that was as important as the story they were listening to. The grandparents were thrilled."

Stories were also shared between the school pupils when the upper school pupils read together with the Primary 2s. "The big boys and girls came down yesterday," said Edwin, "and we made things for the stories they read. We were in our co-operative learning groups. My group made lightbulbs and a friend for Bartholemew Bear and we drew the big city."

Fraser, an 8 year-old in Miss Lucas' primary 4 class, said he liked the haggis pie at the Book Week lunch. He also enjoyed illustrating the class book, their version of The Wee Bannock. "I illustrated the start, where the wee bannock jumps off the plate and runs away from the bus driver because he is about to get eaten." Fraser doesn't have a favourite book but he likes Anthony Horowitz books like Alex Rider. His favourite part of the week was the visit from former Comely Park pupil and author Stuart Reid. "In the book Paul's teeth fall out so we got to throw false teeth at him. He told us about his new books, I think one was Gorgeous George and the Snot Zombies, and there is another one about an elephant that poos a lot. It was top secret and the teachers had to cover their ears because they were over 18!"

Miss Lucas said that Stuart Reid's readings "suitably lowered the tone," and had high praise for another author, Lari Don, who also visited the school to give the primary 5 class a workshop in writers' craft and writing cliffhanger endings. "They were full of manuscripts," says Miss Lucas, telling her 'have a look, have a look!' Seeing that enthusiasm was great."

There has been so much happening at Comely Park that this only scratches the surface of their huge – and hugely successful – roster of events. At this point it was time to get excited for Reading Hour. "We'll have a flash mob of readers at 11.30am, they're going to read The Gruffalo in Scots to the primary 1-3s. There are also quotes from Scots books on the windows, and they are going to go around and do a print trail. They'll be picking out the Scots words, looking them up in the dictionary, and reading the books they are from."

But this won't be the end. "Next week Michael Matheson MSP is coming out for a review of the week and he's going to present prizes for the best book plates," said Miss Lucas. Looking ahead, "We are going to look into using the grandparents more, I also liked the techniques used in the workshops, which we can use in other areas. There are all sorts of things we will be looking at. We will also continue the shared reading. Hopefully we will leave the bums and bogeys to one side, but there are so many things that we will take on throughout the year!"

It was lovely to visit Comely Park, and I left just in time to relax and enjoy Reading Hour at a coffee shop with my copy of What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by the ridiculously talented Nathan Englander. In a pleasingly meta coincidence, one of the short stories I read was called 'The Reader'.

How has your Book Week been so far? What did you read at 11am?

Join me tomorrow for a round-up of the Mitchell Library's promising Pop Up Festival.

Nicola Balkind

Nicola Balkind is a writer, editor and avid reader. She contributes to a number of books, blogs, and the BBC Scotland Movie Café, and is the editor of World Film Locations: Glasgow. Read more of her Book Week Scotland blogs here.