Dan Graham has worked in the children's book and media industries for 19 years and has written over 100 children’s books and apps, most recently under the pen name of Oakley Graham. He was formerly a Primary school governor and pupil mentor, and is the editorial director for the Tide Mill Media group of companies, comprising Top That Publishing, Playcreate Media and Loved By Kids.
As a dad of eight, preparation for World Book Day starts early in my house. Unfortunately, the 'early' assertion usually relates to the morning of the day itself, with my wife and I rifling through the fancy dress box to match outfits to much-loved book characters for our children to wear. While lack of forethought is undoubtedly quite remiss on my part, I work in children's publishing, and so the annual event should have long since ceased to creep up and surprise me. I do love the whirlwind of chaos that results from trying to conceive plausible outfits that look like favourite book protagonists. In an instant, an oversized black coat becomes a wizard's cloak, and a smattering of face paint transforms a child wearing an orange t-shirt into the Cheshire cat.
About 5% of children will have experienced the death of a parent by the time they are 16, while 92% will lose someone important to them. At any one time, around 70% of schools have a bereaved pupil in their care, according to Child Bereavement UK. When the worst happens, teachers provide an invaluable source of support, guidance and care for their pupils. Just being there, ready to listen and support your pupils in times of tragedy is vital. Children find it distressing to see their parents upset and they need teachers, classroom assistants and mentors to be strong and provide reassurance through this difficult period in their lives.
We know that it’s important to get kids reading, but how can we best go about this? Dan Graham, editorial director at Loved By Kids, discusses what makes pupils want to pick up books and immersive themselves in a world of possibilities.
I can still vaguely recall the immense sense of achievement that I derived from being told that I could move on from word cards and could start the school reading scheme. However, excitement soon turned to dismay as my five year-old self realised that years of reading prescriptive and extremely dull books were ahead. The Department for Education's 2012 report 'Research Evidence on Reading for Pleasure' revealed that reading for pleasure is the most important indicator for the future success of the child. Therefore, it seems strange that many school-led forays into our wonderfully rich and diverse world of literature are sometimes so uninspiring.