This autumn half term, The Point Arts Centre was the venue for a brand new and exciting ‘Vlogging’ workshop to help launch our new ‘Reading Champions’ project.
The idea behind this scheme is to encourage keen readers to be outgoing and enthusiastic about their love of books and reading, and to share this with other young people across their school and beyond. This could be done in a whole variety of ways: talking to their friends about what they enjoy reading, posting reviews, book recommendations and blog posts on the DBA website and displaying them around their schools, doing assemblies, etc. However, as this is most definitely the YouTube generation, we knew that our young readers would welcome the opportunity to create their own video blogs (vlogs) about the books and authors they love. The workshop was designed to build confidence, develop and hone their presenting skills and set them on their way to becoming YouTube stars of the future!
The day began with a small but very excited group of young people from four different primary schools gathered chatting on cushions on the studio floor. James from the Talegate Theatre Company, our workshop leader, introduced himself and his colleagues, and began by talking about what we mean by the term ‘vlogging’. He led a short group discussion about the key things to consider when planning a book vlog - speaking about different styles and backgrounds, whether it would work better as a straight talk to camera, or should perhaps include readings, music, or a piece of drama. It was immediately apparent that the children had plenty of ideas and lots to say!
James then showed two short and very different films as examples: one short and quite formal, where Hayley, an 8 year old, sat on a chair and talked to camera about the picture book Little Red Hot; and the second a much longer and more rambling film where the young presenter talked at some length about her love of the Wimpy Kid series, and included a short film of herself in a car with her two noisy brothers to illustrate part of the story. There followed a lively discussion where the children were encouraged to pick out and discuss what was successful about each film, to think about whether they had enjoyed the style, was it too long/short, was it interesting, did they learn something about the book, and crucially, did it make them want to read the book/s being discussed.
Then everyone was up on their feet and moving as they took part in a series of (somewhat frenetic!) exercises to loosen them up, remove inhibitions and get the creative juices flowing, which it certainly did! In the circle story-time which followed they created a magical tale of a goblin who was a prince in disguise, a cat called Perfect, a witch, a diamond princess, and killer potatoes! This exercise was also an opportunity to think about creating excitement and interest by using different tones and inflection in their voices, all of which would help when talking to the camera later.
At this point the children chose their books, which were very varied, ranging from The Famous Five to the Tom Gates title Dog Zombies Rule (for now!) and, guided by James, they began to plan the storyboards for their individual films. They jointly decided that each vlog would start with them introducing themselves and telling their age and where they came from. They would then show the book they wanted to talk about, say something about what it was about and why they liked it so much. Most of the children also wanted to include a short piece of drama illustrating their favourite part of the story so we had great fun allocating parts and practising these!
After a short lunch break, it was time for filming of each child speaking to camera. This was great fun and showed the children the importance of practice and of being very clear about what they wanted to say! Then it was a quick rehearsal and the filming of their dramatized excerpts. James and his team began to edit the results and we were able to view the rough cuts of each vlog and discuss them as a group. For a first time, they were pretty impressive!
The whole day was great fun and all the children worked really hard while at the same time enjoying themselves immensely! I’d like to thank them on behalf of the DBA committee for their participation and infectious enthusiasm. I’d also like to thank James, Lorna, Simon and Tom from Talegate for a really fantastic workshop.
The next step will be to create a new page on this website for our reading champions - and others - to upload blogs and comments, and where we will also post links to the children’s films. The ones we created at the workshop should be available to view here within a week or so. We also hope to run another vlogging workshop in the near future, so keep an eye out and book your spot. I look forward to meeting more of our prospective reading champions very soon.
Secretary, Doncaster Book Award Committee