Start the Story by Tommy Donbavand and Barry Hutichison
Stop the presses, this is too too cool not to mention!
Start the Story is a publication put together by two children’s authors, Tommy Donbavand (of Scream Street fame – check out my review here, t’is awesome (the book, not my review. Although feel free to say that’s awesome too) and Barry Hutchison (author of The 13th Horsemen amongst others, which I will be reviewing soon – it’s like Terry Pratchett for younger readers). The basic idea is that, for a small subscription fee, subscribers would have access to LOADS of great ideas to boost literacy and intrigue classes in one handy PDF file. There are also various articles and generally some pretty interesting bookish-related stuff included too.
Now though, The Dynamic Duo (I hope they take it the complimentary way that was intended and don’t just think I’m full of cheese) have decided that, in the light of new chatter and blather by Michael Gove, they want to make the contents of Start the Story both completely free and online. Can you imagine that?! Brilliant resources for literacy. Online. For free. From two excellent authors. No that’s not a pig flying past your window. I don’t know what it is but it’s definately not a reaction to an unreal suggestion and it’s definately not porker-shaped.
I’ve got to admire the dedication of Hutchison and Donbavand. I trained as primary chool teacher a few years ago and one of the big reasons I never took up the career was because I hated how rigid eveyerthing was. I hated that I couldn’t spend chunks of time on something cool, educational and bookish, or that I had to plan a storytime days in advance. I hated that I couldn’t be talking about one subject and just casually link it in to something I read the other day. I can sympathise entirely with being fed up with the way literacy is going in schools, because although I’m not exactly up to the minute on the latest ideas Gove has, I know a fair number of teachers who are really working desperately on literacy in their schools and finding it an uphill struggle. I dread the day when children only read what they’re officially supposed to, wouldn’t know how to work a library or a bookshop if their lives depended on it, or simply dismiss reading and stories altogether. That would be truly terrfiying and if these two chaps at Start the Story can do anything to stem this and make literacy the new cool subject, my hat’s off to them.
Please please do take a look over here on their blog – there’s more information about what they’re planning and you can get a look at what they’ve done so far. If you have any ideas for articles or helpful suggestions, there’s a comment box at the end of the article too. If nothing else, think of it this way – it’ll be completely free, and you’ll lose absolutely nothing by looking. All that will happen is you’ll gain a fantastic new resource for lesson planning and workshop ideas and hopefully tempt some children back to the Bookish Side.