School Literacy Initiatives & Programs

Just thought I'd share a few ideas and programs that I've been fortunate enough

to be involved in with various schools.

​Initiatives that have / are running to encourage a passion for reading and writing. 

the 'Authors Note'

I'm so thrilled about this one.

One of the messages I try to leave kids with is that "If you enjoy writing, then publish your story! This doesn't mean sending it off to a publishing house .. it means show your friends, your family, me, your teacher, your librarian. Any or all of the above. Because the best part about writing is sharing your story."

So in a number of schools we've started the 'Authors Note'.

A simple 1mtr square space on your library wall that any 'potential author' can pin-up their work for others to read and enjoy.

Of course it's handed to the librarian 1st to make sure that it's appropriate ... the story is then pinned, anonymously or not, onto the board.

Some schools have broken the board into 3 areas .. lower, mid and upper for appropriate age group.

I also discuss with the kids that it's great to hear positive and negative feedback .. it all helps.

I can't wait to re-visit some of those schools to see how this has developed.

'Roasting Boasting & Toasting'

It was a privilege to work with St Peter's & Paul's Garren ACT once again.

Andrea DeCarvalho was the leading force behind this extremely successful program.

R B T ran over 3 days and 1 evening.

Whilst I work-shopped primarily with each group of boys for approx' 1hr each day, I used 'Lunch-time' for some 'Girls only' 'Author Interest' time so they wouldn't feel left out.

The published results attest to the success of RBT.

'Roasting Boasting & Toasting' published in Catholic Schools 'Primary Principals Association' magazine .. 

"Topics" [2014 Term 2 - Volume 24 - No:2]

                                           Below is Andrea's article explaining the program. 

        Please don't hesitate to contact me should you wish to know more about this great program. 

'What to do when your NAPLAN results show that almost all of your students are in the 2nd and 3rd top bands for writing?  Plan to get them into the top band!

Closer analysis of 2013 SMART data showed it was our boys in Years 3 and 4 that needed to be inspired to write more and write better. Taking Gareth Malone's example in the ABC TV program 'Extraordinary School for Boys', it was decided that we should give our boys exciting language experiences which would then enthuse them to write.'

We engaged an author-in-residence, Susan Berran, for three consecutive days and she worked each day with the boys of every class from Years 1 to 4, sharing her writing experiences, what motivates her and which techniques she uses for creating her crazy stories.

On the first evening of Susan's visit, we held a ‘boys only’ event dubbed "Roasting, Boasting & Toasting"! The idea was to work in partnership with our Dads, have a bite to eat, get them talking to their sons about some tall stories from their past, and create some wonderful memories of a night of fun activities and much laughter. 

This incredibly successful event, terrifically supported by oodles of our Dads, was a great springboard for the next couple of days of creative thinking and writing. 

Our Dads had a ball competing against each other and their sons. The cup stacking challenge required dexterity and speed. The table-tennis-ball-bounced-into-plastic-cups challenge seemed strangely familiar to many fathers! Building the tallest balloon tower kept some chaps going for the entire evening - producing sensational results. The concentration required for the hands-free rigatoni-threaded-by-spaghetti challenge was something to behold! Outstanding engineering skills were on display with the ‘create a spaghetti & marshmallow construction’ challenge.

Ensuring enduring memories were kept, many contributed to the selfie challenge, uploading their fun onto our school Twitter account @StsPandP. Delightful self-portrait photos of our fathers & their sons are now captured in perpetuity as a reminder of the night.

Lucky door prizes went to some very excited boys, winning signed copies of Susan Berran's hilarious books that she'd kindly donated. 

A short story competition was launched that night with fabulous prizes on offer. By the end of the term it was envisaged that many boys, who would not otherwise engage in writing for themselves, would publish their short stories on our school's LIFE page and take part in the competition. Whilst some students used the tall stories from their fathers as the basis for their writing, many responded to the “My Dad is a…” story starter in a variety of other imaginative ways.

We also worked in partnership with a local writers' collective, "ScissorPaperPen", who judge the entries. They reported that it had been a great deal of fun reading the imaginative stories and that they were disappointed when the stories ran out! Some stories had made them “laugh really hard, while others were powerful and sad”.  The judges commented that “some writers liked to write about lava. Some people liked to write about lava swords! Some liked to write about ninjas, cupcakes, spies, zombies and aliens”. 

We were thrilled to receive a total of 70 short story entries from across Year One to Year Six.  The fact that 31 of those were from boys was evidence enough that our stimulus had been a success.  

Ultimately, of the 19 prizes awarded across Years One to Four, 13 went to boys – which was an additional indication of the efficacy of our initiative!  

This initiative was supported by the Canberra and Goulburn Catholic Education Office's "Literacy and Numeracy Challenge" Funding.

Mrs Andrea de Carvalho is the Primary Coordinator at Saints Peter & Paul Primary School, Garran in the ACT.  She can be contacted at  

Yoyo 'Incentive to Read' scheme

This is a fun, albeit tricky way to get the kids started ... then they're off! 

I had a school ask if they could purchase a number of the 'Fluff Butt' Yoyo Balls at a discount price. [Fluff Butt is one of the fun characters in the Freaky series] 

Which I was fine with. When I inquired as to why, they informed me that it was to be used as an 'incentive to read'.

The idea being that the kids can borrow any of the titles from the library ... once read they just have to complete their book report to receive a 'yoyo ball'.

Some schools giving out Yoyos at end of week. 


I've since had a few schools do this and each coming back with a hugely positive outcome. Finding that just-on all students went on to read at least another title right away.

Congrats for thinking laterally!

(Please click here or contact me thru 'Contact Susan' page for more info'.) 

Reading Room / Breaky Club

Well done Albury North Primary School!

Providing a dedicated 'Reading Room' to work in conjunction with the 'Breaky club'.

Encouraging reading by exciting the kids with 'Mystery Readers'.

Building an awareness that reading is important in all walks of life. 

This is such a simple and 'not to costly' idea that I'm sure will have a fantastic result

Finding a spare space/classroom and giving the kids some input on how it could be decorated

The dedicated 'Reading Room' works hand in hand with the schools 'Breaky club'. 

As many schools do .. to help the students with their reading a few mums/nanna's etc come along in the morning to sit with children and read-a-long with them.

But once a week the school invites along a 'mystery reader' to give just 30mins of their time to drop by and do a 'breaky-time' reading.

The 'readers' come from all walks of life .. the butcher, baker, fireman, author, shop assistant etc ...

A small poster of 'clues' are posted about the school to build excitement and see if they can guess the mystery reader.

This is such a great way to build an awareness of the importance of reading and making it fun at the same time.

I can't wait to drop in again ... and I'm sure they'll be no shortage of willing participants.  

'Write Wodonga'  - Writing festival

Wodonga Primary School ..

'Write Wodonga' annual writing festival culminating with a family evening.

I had such a great time working with the students. They were so enthusiastic, it was just a pleasure to be there.

Collaborative 'SEED Story' Project

​I had the opportunity to work along with 8 regional schools & the Albury Library/Museum on this fun and quite challenging project.

After the first school came-up with the initial Title, setting and Intro' I headed out.

Taking 5 schools the Intro', they each came-up with an adventure, we then formed groups within 3 more schools, gave each group one of the adventures to create 9 different conclusions.

In each school I worked with the g3 - 6 building / continuing the story & the P - 2's drawing the pictures.

The work was then compiled and computer animated to create a short film. 

                                  Read more here : 

ABN: 16 959 403 631