Reading for joy at Rangikura School

Issue: Volume 101, Number 9

Posted: 21 July 2022
Reference #: 1HAV7u

A recent Book Week celebration at Rangikura School saw ākonga writing, illustrating and reading with working authors and illustrators.

Illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White visits children at Rangikura School for Book Week.

Illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White visits children at Rangikura School for Book Week.

Book Week at Porirua’s Rangikura School is always special.

School librarian Adrienne Tibble explains that this year, the focus was on encouraging students to pick up something new for pure enjoyment and read it, but also to think about writing their own personal stories.

By inviting a series of published authors and illustrators into the school over this time, Adrienne hoped to spark inspiration for the young creatives of Rangikura. The visits were arranged through Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s Writers in Schools programme.

“We have a lot of great student artists at our school, and we wanted to show them where their talents might lead by introducing them to working, modern artists,” she says.

“We wanted the week’s activities to show that books are a lot of fun.”

To open Book Week, Rangikura School held a pōwhiri and full assembly to welcome their honoured guest, Te Hamua Nikora, a TV personality, comedian and Duffy Books ambassador.

“As expected, he was a hit with students and staff, and talked about his own childhood reading,” says Adrienne.

“His stories were hilarious and a fun start to the week.”

A week of activities 

Book Week events were then spread throughout the week, including a visit from short story writer Maria Samuela, who ran a workshop for the senior students to think deeply about their identity and their own stories, and produce pieces of writing based on these ideas.

Samoan author and publisher Dahlia Malaeulu visited the junior students to share her picture books with them, and later in the week, students enjoyed workshops from authors Matt Cunningham and Laya-Rose Mutton Rogers.

Rangikura School’s Book Week culminated in a special ‘Dress Up Day’, which Adrienne says was filled with laughter, cheering and screaming, as staff and children paraded through the hall.

“I think having authors visiting schools is a very special opportunity. The students were in awe just to be able to meet our guests let alone be able to do a workshop with them. It's a rare opportunity that most of these students would not likely ever get.

“It also shows them that books are created by people, not just random names on the cover. You can't really overstate how good this experience is for the students,” she says.

Another special feature of the week, Books N Windows, saw each teacher place their favourite book against their classroom window. Students were encouraged to check out the displays over the lunchbreak, and then when the bell went, they could visit the classroom with the story they wanted to hear.

Insight into illustrating 

Wellington-based artist Isobel Joy Te Aho-White has illustrated a number of children’s and educational books, using both digital and traditional media. Specialising in symbolism and metaphor, her work is influenced by mythology and folk tales, botanical illustration and life experiences.

Isobel Joy’s visit to Rangikura School involved a demonstration of her illustration process with a focus on the storyboarding stage, for students in Years 5 and 6.

“We read through Kupe and the Giant Wheke, a story written by Steph Matuku for School Journal which I had illustrated previously, to give an example of how text and illustration work together in a picture book format,” she explains.

“I prepared some storyboard templates, which were sheets of paper with the text layout and a blank space for the students to have a go at illustrating the story themselves.”

A visiting author can help make reading and books come alive for young people, as they learn more about the process behind writing and illustrating and understand it’s a possible pathway for them.

“It shows them that doing something that they enjoy as a job is a tangible reality and gives them an opportunity to learn how to take practical steps into making their aspirations happen, from the experience of someone who has done just that,” says Isobel Joy.

“For me as a children’s illustrator, it is also a mutually beneficial experience because I’m connecting directly with my audience and learning about what drives and excites them – and that's invaluable to my own mahi.”

Isobel Joy says an outstanding moment from her visit to Rangikura was the interest with which her books were met from the students.

“I had brought a bunch of books that I'd illustrated to show the students – and I have never been met with such enthusiasm for something which I also feel enthusiastic about,” she says.

“That was rewarding. Also talking to each of the students and seeing how they approached the creative process in their unique ways was special and inspiring.”

To book an author visit to your school, and learn more about Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, visit www.read-nz.org(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:15 AM, 21 July 2022

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