Liverpool Literacy Conference

| June 11, 2008 | 4 Comments 

A superb day at the Jaguar Partnership for Learning site in Liverpool for the Liverpool Literacy Conference, part of the National Year of Reading 2008.

Over breakfast, at the delightful Marriott South, a conversion of the old Liverpool Airport, I enjoyed a good chat with Michael Rosen, who, like me, presented a keynote at this year’s Liverpool Literacy Conference. Michael opened the conference with a fascinating talk, discussing different ways of stimulating the desire to read.

Michael talked about how reading enables us to think in complex ways and juggle with several ideas at the same time. In order to make sense of a story, you need to harvest important information to help you understand the significant areas of a plot. Extended prose requires you to hold on to salient points to understand, for example, the significance of Goldilocks arriving at Granny’s house only makes sense because you remember that Granny has been replaced by the wolf. (Spot the deliberutt mistake and see the COMMENTS!)

A key point that Michael made was that, to make a book loving school, you need to help create book loving homes. He encouraged folk to visit the Reading Connects site for a whole range of useful material.

I have always enjoyed Michael’s “Word of Mouth” programme on Radio 4. Michael is presently the Children’s Laureate.

Over breakfast, Michael and I talked about palindromes. (A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward.)

We agreed that life can feel a bit like a palindrome when you are “on the road”:

Coming and going all the time. The secret, though, is enjoying the delight of the journey in whatever direction.

Palindromes have always fascinated me.

Some simple words are palindromic: rotavator, racecar, radar and repaper…

Michael said that, whenever any girl called Hannah asks for her book to be signed, he asks her how she says her name backwards!

There is a LONG list of palindromic words at Wiktionary HERE

There are also some really clever complete sentences, some of which appear to have a complete back story, like the classic “A man, a plan, a canal: Panama”

(This is by Leigh Mercer, published in Notes and Queries, 1948. The “man” may refer to Theodore Roosevelt or Ferdinand Lesseps, both instrumental in the realization of the Panama Canal.

Was it a car or a cat I saw?

Two of my favourites are not really legitimate ones, but they are amusing:

  • Retteb, si flahd noces eht tub, but the second half is better.
  • Doctor Reubenstein was shocked and dismayed when he answered the ringing telephone, only to hear a strange, metallic, alien voice say, “Yasec iovn eilacilla temeg! Nartsa raehoty lnoenoh pelet gnig, nirehtde rewsnaehn ehw. Deya! Msid! Dnadek cohssaw nietsne buerro, tcod?”

Why not visit the great Palindrome City, where you can investigate palindromic foods, cars, games and more.

If you want to encourage teenagers to read, try a visit to the Piczo Read Up site. (To my embarrassment Bill Bailey read a snippet of a book, very loudly, as I was preparing this blog post during Michael’s presentation!) Big Screen encourages students to change the endings of films. The Pitch encourages reading and discussing the best sport books and autobiography.

I love the site ReaditSwapit where you can do just that: read a book and then swap it for another one. I think it really encourages reading (and buying) MORE books as you get to find out lots of ideas for what to read “If you liked that one…”

The Bear Grylls Survival game involves some great text that students might read “without realising it”.

Laughter is officially good for you so try some of the Year of Reading material on the Mustard Comedy Magazine site.

WhichBook enables you to choose a book to suit your mood, a bit like Musicovery does for music.

Thank you to all those numerous folk who organised today’s superb event. I look forward to the opportunity of working with you all again soon.

I am coming up to Liverpool in a few days time so would value any suggestions as to what to do “Touristy-styleee”.

Michael, if you are reading this, don’t pick up on all my missed commas, hyphens, spelling mistocks and structure poor sentences of. 🙂

In the meantime: step on no pets!

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (4)

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  1. jill wright says:

    Thanks for a great workshop & presentation. It was really inspiring to see the children really engaged and the quality of the writing was amazing. I have never played a computer game in my life, but i will be buying MYST ( which my husband is excited about!) Visiting Liverpool – try to see the palm house in Sefton Park & go for beer at the Philharmonic pub. Enjoy yourself!
    Thanks again.

  2. yes, I met some bloke who was fiddling with his laptop all the time…oh sorry, it’s you, Tim. I didn’t see you there. Whoops!

    Great day, sorry I couldn’t stay to see your presentation. Just to say folks, that Tim was keen I should see his bag of tricks (OK, it’s laptop, but you know what I mean) and over lunch he compressed a one hour talk into a 6min 34 second talk. He did this by playing me the whole powerpoint presentation while speaking at 939 mph (jokes included at no extra cost). Luckily, I have recently added several microprocessors to my brain and was able to compute what he was saying. If I hadn’t, I’d’ve been in big trouble, I can tell yer. There were some people nearby (fine upstanding members of the Liverpool teaching profession) who were already wilting under the strain of having had to listen to me yakkin away all morning, who I noticed very quietly and decorously moving away from us. Tim Bullet-points-were-invented-for-me Rylands, I salute you sir.

    For me, the word ‘mist’ (or in your case, ‘Myst’) will never mean the same thing again.

    Rock on. Till the next time. And say hello to Mr Walker for me.

  3. Oh by the way, Goldilocks arrives at the Bears’ House, not a Granny’s house. Perhaps I got it wrong in my talk. Perhaps you got it wrong. Perhaps you put it in as a spot-the-deliberate-mistake. Perhaps you wrote it so that we should all go away and write a hybrid story about Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Bears, wolves, forests and porridge. Why not?!

  4. blog says:

    Ah well… just showing my age! How many bears were there? (Maybe I will need to go on a bear hunt!) I think that Little Blue Riding Hood might have got a bit mixed up in there too eh?!
    Thank you, Michael, for, firstly, being foolish enough to ask and, secondly, having the stamina to endure the fastest presentation known to man!
    I’m off to start a Brothers Timm version of that hybrid tale. Speak soon

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