Diary of a Patron of Reading – Second Visit

What do you get if you mix China with an Indian author and a school full of eager children?

No marks for this answer. It is Reading for Pleasure.

My remit at West Earlham Junior School is about bringing the world to the readers, to open their minds to possibilities and offering them choices that are different and maybe unusual. So I talk to the literacy coordinator Ms Edwards and we agreed to read stories from different countries each time. Read more about it here.

For my second visit we had chosen China. Find out more here about the books I carried with me.

Here is a diary account of what happened on the day! Spoiler Alert – it’s going to be super fun.

4:15 am – Alarm goes off in Author’s house.

4:16 am – Author bolts up in bed and says I’m a Patron of Reading today! Jumps out of bed and bangs into door.

4:35 am – Author drinks miracle drink called coffee and feels she can rule a new planet called Planet of Reading.


5:00 am – Author checks bags for books from China. Author can’t find bag. She panics and stifles a scream. Maybe a book burglar stole the books about China. Author’s Imaginary Friend says that can’t be possible because burglar would have forgotten to escape and would be caught red-handed reading.

5:05 am – Author finds bag near the door, ready for trip to Norwich. Whoosh! That was the sigh of relief by the Imaginary Friend

5:30 am – Author leaves for train station.

5:55 am – The train to Norwich is not until 6:25. As usual the author is very very early and she wonders if the alarm should have been set for 4:45 am. But it was too late by then.

5:56 am – Author spots McDonalds. Breakfast! Oops, wait! You don’t normally eat breakfast, says Imaginary Friend. But… McDonalds serves American pancakes in mini sizes with syrup and butter. Please please!

6:00 am – Imaginary friend has lost the argument. Author is busy eating pancakes.

6:15 am – Train is ready and Author finds her seat. Author pulls out all the books to read again! Imaginary Friend is bored.

8:27 am – Train reaches Norwich. Only 33 minutes left to reach West Earlham Junior School. It was a race against time. Taxi Driver vs Norwich Peak Hour Traffic. Will she make it? Will she be able to tell the story of The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac to the assembly full of eager faces (of teachers?) and wonderful children.

8:57 am – Taxi reaches school. Author runs to the school and thankfully recognised by the Head Teacher as the Patron of Reading (and not Running).

And then the real fun starts.

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang

9:00 to 9:20 am Author tells story to wonderful children tired after their Musuem presentations. Children are sorry for the Cat who missed out.

9:25 am – In 5PB, the children are all ready to talk about China – Author reads from a Non-fiction book and discuss how the country and lives of people in China are different to our own. Author is super impressed not just with the preparation, but also the thoughts of the children – who really empathise with the people from China.

As the day goes by, Author is so busy moving from class to class, reading wonderful books she had taken with her, that she forgets to write the diary. Which Imaginary Friend is not happy about because Imaginary Friends are happier inside diaries.

Author meets with all the classes separately – from Year 3 to Year 6 with a short break for tea and strawberries and cream (Yum!) and a long break for lunch. Author is so happy to meet children who are so enthusiastic about reading. Imaginary Friend is grumpy because when Author is reading, no one is talking to him.

3:00 pm – It’s time for the voice projection workshop! The head-teacher had ordered a warm weather for the workshop – so we decide to hold it in the outside stage. Three students from each class join the workshop and we learn to tell 3-4 line stories with expressions, with voices and with gestures. After a little practice run, the children take turns to tell their wonderful stories. Even those who thought they’d struggle did very well. It only goes to show new things are not scary. All it takes is a little courage.

3:30 pm – Author signs books and chats with wonderful librarian Mrs Smith.

3:40 pm – Author ready to leave. DUN-DUN-DUN – A big problem. Imaginary Friend forgot to book a taxi. Author’s train will not wait for her just like time. After four phone calls and nervous pacing, Author convinces a taxi driver to take her to the station.

3:55 pm – Taxi driver arrives. Author is worried. Will she or not make the train? Will the train driver demand a big pot of money if she didn’t take the correct train? Are there pirates on the train? Will there be a pirate on the road to attack the car? Imaginary Friend chuckles.

No pirates here, he says. Just Vikings. Is that good or bad? Author does not know. But she must trust her rescuer – the taxi driver.

4:15 pm – Driver brings Author to station! Plenty of time to get the right train. No pot of gold necessary. But…

4:16 pm Author and Imaginary Friend are hungry. Imaginary Friend makes Author buy a salad. Author knows salad is not enough. She could eat a horse if she were not vegetarian.

4:30 pm – Train leaves Norwich. Author sinks into seat with a smile on her face. Imaginary Friend knows that this is the smile of satisfaction she gets every time she comes back from a school visit. Especially when the children have been inspiring.

5:00 pm – Author discovers Cake in the on-board canteen.

And the rest as you know is full of cream and jam.