As the cover suggests, this text explores a history of writing and printing from the perspective of ‘book’.
This non-fiction text is a quick read and suitable for Stage 4 students as John Agard tells the adventurous story of how books came into being. There are twenty brief chapters, interspersed with black and white drawings, images and quotes from eclectic sources, such as Lao Tzu, Lewis Carroll and Emily Dickenson.
Beginning with an outline of the traditions of oral storytelling, Agard writes in a conversational tone about the development of the alphabet, writing, papyrus and parchment before sharing the origins of paper-making and printing. Students will be engaged by the humour of puns and wordplay, while being challenged to understand the impact of books. In ‘A Tale of Flames’, Agard reminds us of the burning of books through the ages, for political and religious reasons, from ancient China to the sixteenth century and more the recent destruction of the National Library of Sarajevo
With it’s playful tone and simplistic black and white images, this is a quick and informative read. It has inspired an assessment task for an introductory Year 7 unit English Language and Discipline (though that uninspiring title may change). Students will be investigating the origins and development of the English language and different modes of sharing language. A focus will be on introducing important concepts that help students distinguish ‘English’ from literacy skills, and encourage deep thinking. As part of their self directed learning, students will be choosing words and texts to investigate, that will lead into their speaking task: what book would I choose to be? or a representation of their life as a book.
Hopefully, I’ll remember to post models and examples once the unit is complete