For Jason’s first World Book Day as a published author, he took his rhyming picture book What Can You See? into a northwest London infant school to help Year 1 children with developing their language and observational skills through simple rhymes.
About 75 five and six year olds at Garden Suburb Infant School in Golders Green, Barnet, gathered in the school hall to join him on a journey around their homes and the wider world around them as he read the book and invited them to point out things they could see, with simple rhymes to help them.
To mark World Book Day, most of the pupils were dressed as animals from their favourite books, including a number of cats – many in Dr Seuss hats, lions and bumblebees – all of which featured in the book.
Although What Can You See? isn’t designed to be as funny as his other book, I Like To Put Food In My Welly, there was a hearty laugh as the children were invited to “Look in the bathroom” and asked “What Can You See?” A bath and a sink – and a toilet to wee!
After the reading, some of the children approached him to ask questions before heading to their classrooms to enjoy activities inspired by the book.
One of the games involved the children using rhyme to guess what items or activities they might spot in Hannah Rounding’s beautiful water-colour drawings.
Some of the children also got to watch a video of Hannah describing how she created the illustrations for the book, before they were given the chance to ask Jason their own questions.
The first asked why each page asked “What Can You See?” while another asked how the book was made, which Jason presumed was not referring to the physical printing and binding of the book, but instead referred to where the idea for the book came from.
“The book was devised to teach my youngest child about the world around her so it’s really exciting to see it being used to help educate older children too,” Jason enthused later.
After the teacher pointed out to her class how lucky they were to have an author in their classroom – “Julia Donaldson hasn’t come to talk to you about her books,” she observed – the children enthused that it had been their “best afternoon ever” while one said “I enjoyed it very much” and another asked whether Jason could bring in more books. “He might bring in more in the future,” encouraged the teacher. One child asked what “the future” meant; the learning never stops.
Jason suggested that some of the children themselves might want to become children’s authors themselves “in the future.” One six year old thoughtfully said she hadn’t quite decided yet.
The children who performed their best or tried their hardest in the exercises were presented with What Can You See? stickers that they proudly wore on their costumes as they left at the end of the school day, before a local bookshop held a World Book Day sale in the corridor.