Book Week – Wrap Up 2021
Well, as I write this, I can hardly believe that Book Week is over. At the same time, I feel so tired it might as well be the end of the year.
I love Book Week. Love the buzz it brings to my school and library. Love the excitement it generates online. Love how it gives libraries, books and reading the spotlight they deserve. Love how my school’s marketing team suddenly want to talk about what’s happening in the Library because the Book Week tag is good for their SEO. But this year, Book Week kind of took a back seat for me.
In previous years, in previous roles, I’d shape my whole planning around Book Week, the theme and the activities I had planned for the year. My new role and the tasks I’ve taken on this year, along with the climate of sudden lockdowns and online learning challenged me to look at Book Week in a different light and to reevaluate my planning and approach to this very special week.
Not top priority this year
Due to a range of factors, Book Week just wasn’t my top priory this year. I started at a new school in a new role this year. I absolutely love my job but if you’ve started at a new workplace you know how much brain power it takes to just learn everyone’s names, let alone the policies, procedures and the “way we do things here”. Along with that, I’m working part time (gosh I love and hate part time work, but that’s an another post so I won’t go into it here), and half of our library was demolished in the June/July holidays, necessitating moving that half of the library into the remaining half. Along with resource curation, a pretty full teaching load, information and literacy lessons on a flex schedule and general library work, planning for Book Week took a back seat. We also had some ground to make up in promoting it as a feature in the busy school calendar. Sadly, while the week had been set aside as Book Week on the school calendar, it had been over shadowed by a school sporting event, so the continuing tradition of a costume parade and Book Week assembly were not a given.
Looking at things through a new lens
My first and second school has always held their costume parade day on a Friday. And please excuse my ignorance, but I kind of thought all schools held their costume day on a Friday. To me, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t you have it on a Friday? However, my next few schools and my current school do not hold the costume parades on a Friday and let me tell you, it kind of does my head in. Dress up day on a Monday? Seriously? Conversations on the Aussie Book Week Facebook group and this fantastic post on Momo Time To Read challenged my thinking around a costume day and whether we should hold a parade at all. Given the conflict with the aforementioned sports day (because an athletics carnival, swimming carnival, cross country day and another sports free dress day are not enough???) a dress up parade was not a guarantee at all. It got me thinking about the traditions I’d become used to, the traditions the school had let go and upheld, and what we wanted to create as new traditions. As a library team, we started to brainstorm ways we could do things differently and what the students were more likely to be engaged with. We created a student advisory group and asked for their feedback and ideas, which was really powerful for getting leadership support.
So, we had our plan. A cool idea for building house spirit and community, still including a dress up day but one that had student initiative, was more inclusive and fit the school goals and approach. A change in the parade tradition to one that was more engaging for students. And plans for a fun, interactive assembly. We’d also decided to separate the high school from the junior school to allow for different focuses for school age group.
And then There was COVID
Okay, so here in Queensland we have been very fortunate to have only quick lockdowns and a return to mostly normal in between, but the most recent lockdown hit just as our plans for Book Week (and the set up required for our changes) were getting started. Suddenly, we couldn’t have the assembly to launch the idea. Suddenly, people were in lockdown, so asking them to find the time and resources to source a particular costume seemed too much. Suddenly, our plans for the newly revised assembly needed to change because even if we were back on site, it was unlikely we’d be having whole group assemblies.
Change of plans. Again.
So, we readjusted and changed plans again. Some things would stay, others would have to wait until next year. We’d laid the groundwork but for this year we needed to keep this flexible and realistic. We decided to go with things that would work while in lockdown or at school. Sadly, it was only a shadow of what we had initially planned, and at the end of the day, as we are all back on site, I wish we had maybe pushed a little harder, but I think we have some exciting things ready to go for next year and I’m pleased with what we managed to get done this year.
Here’s what we did this year for Book Week
Separate Book Week Junior costume day and parade – COVID safe and shared via video to parents.
Book Week highlighted on high school assembly. There was more planned but technology and time limits let us down in the end.
The creation of two videos to share with the school community. One was the reading of the Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds poem by the amazing Mike Lucas and the other was a series of interviews of school students and staff about reading. You’ll find both these videos on our school Instagram account.
A range of activities in the junior and high school throughout the week during lunchtimes, including movie lunches and colouring in.
Competitions in both the junior and high school, which included a bookmark and Minecraft competition, which created a real buzz with the students.
Lots of prizes
The first event for our new reading program, Reading from the Heart.
Trivia activities for each of the high school home room groups each morning.
And of course, displays.
Something I have loved about Book Week this year was being part of the amazing community on the Aussie Book Week Facebook Group and Pinterest board. It was so inspiring to see the displays, events, activities and ideas shared on the group and the wonderful feedback everyone gave and shared. If you would like to join us, you’ll find the Facebook group here and the Pinterest board here.