David Wood OBE thoroughly
enjoys visits to schools, book fairs and libraries, presenting a varied
assortment of talks and performances, to a wide range of children and
often recognise him from his television appearances on WATCH
and SEEING AND DOING. Teachers recognise
him from PLAYAWAY and TRICKY
as “the national children’s dramatist” by Irving Wardle of The Times he
is also the author of children’s books, an actor, and performer of THE DAVID WOOD MAGIC AND MUSIC
SHOW and DAVID WOOD'S STORYTIME
If you would
like to arrange a school visit, please click here.
visits can be tailored to individual needs.
of them carry the message - BOOKS
ARE FUN! - If children grow up unafraid of
books, because early on they have discovered how much fun they can be,
they will soon discover how useful books can be too. David's books,
many of them novelty books, with pop-ups, flaps and slots, co-created
with Richard Fowler, have proved perfect for putting over this message.
The children enjoy them as much as toys!
full day usually starts with THE GINGERBREAD
MAN, a storytelling with magic and music, based on
my own book/play/tv series.It
place in the school hall, instead of assembly.
storytelling is for the whole school, although sometimes we
leave out the Reception class.The
performance is 40 minutes long.(For
more details, see below).
is followed by up to half
a dozen sessions, BOOKS ARE FUN! Sessions, usually of 40
individual classes or year groups, each one no more than 60 in number.These have ten minute
breaks between them and
are tailored to fit in with the school timetable.The sessions for Reception and very young
classes are usually 20 minutes.
the younger children, my own published novelty books feature
strongly.I try to
prove to the children
that books are instruments of pleasure rather than torture … books like
FUNNY BUNNY’S MAGIC SHOW
and MOLE’S BEDTIME STORY (both
seen on TWEENIES) are very popular.
older children, I look into the ingredients of good
storytelling, with particular reference to the work of Roald Dahl,
whose books I have adapted for the stage.We talk about books, what books are for,
different types of books, our
favourite books, an investigation into links between fairytale
modern stories, the world of the imagination, ingredients for
help the children’s own creative writing), ideas for starting stories
to finish them!
THE GINGERBREAD MAN:
A 40 minute story-telling, including magic, music and audience
participation. This is suitable for all primary school
ages, and often is done for the whole school in the
school hall. A CD Player and a waste paper bin are the only
enjoyed the part when he made the Gingerbread Man.
He really made us believe in magic.'
( Siama, year 6)
Here is a
review of THE GINGERBREAD MAN storytelling from ABRACADABRA magazine.
'THE GINGERBREAD MAN' As seen St. John's College School, Cambridge on
Thursday 8th March Review by Chris Wardle
David Wood's excellent lecture on entertaining children and hearing
about the ways in which he combines storytelling and magic, I
immediately invited him to perform at the school in which I work, as
part of our Book Week. This proved to be a very special treat for the
David performed his own
storytelling version of his successful stage play 'The Gingerbread Man'
and with just a few simple props, some music cues and his energetic
personality, he brought the story to life. Of course there was magic,
including a version of instant magic painting, a clever block off rope
type escape, with wooden cut outs of the main characters attached to
the blocks to illustrate the Gingerbread man's escape, and a magic
baking routine, with lots of comedy byplay, to produce around 100
gingerbread men as his finale! David kept over 225 (4 - 9 year old)
children spellbound for nearly an hour before leading storytelling
workshops for individual year groups. Magic was also in evidence here
with his own 'Funny Bunny's Magic Show' book and a clever version of
David also led
some sessions with the older (9 - 13 year old) children in the
afternoon, discussing his experiences as an author, playwright and his
hugely successful stage adaptations of classic works by Philippa Pearce
and Roald Dahl. This was a fantastic day for the children, filled with
stories, laughter and magic, showcasing David Wood's talents and
demonstrating his communication skills and rapport with children of all
ages. If you work within the field of education, then I heartily
recommend David's skills and expertise - and you also get a free
masterclass into the bargain, watching how he deals with an audience
and gets such a lot of business from just a few simple effects.
individual classes of very young children, a 15-20
minute introduction to books and reading, including a participatory
reading of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOUSE!,
BEDTIME STORY, FUNNY
BUNNY'S MAGIC SHOW and others.
For individual classes of young children,
a 15-20 minute introduction to books and reading, featuring SIDNEY
THE MONSTER, and BEDTIME STORY,
with an optional telling of HAPPY BIRTHDAY,
MOUSE!, BABY BEAR'S BUGGY RIDE and
BEDTIME STORY, and
a look at THE MAGIC SHOW.
session includes information on how SIDNEY
was written, and ideas for developing the children's own creative
writing. SIDNEY THE MONSTER leads neatly
into a discussion on what the children do to stop themselves becoming
bored. Reading is encouraged!
older primary school children, suitable for 7 year olds
upwards, but varies according to the age group of the children, who
should not number more than, say, 50.
30-40 minute general talk about books, what books are for, different
types of books, an enquiry into the children's favourite books, an
investigation into links between fairytale fantasies and modern
stories, the world of the imagination, ingredients for story-teiling
(to help the children's own creative writing), ideas for starting
stories and how to finish them!
programme includes a look at some of David's books, plus the process of
publication - original manuscript, through to typescript, uncorrected
proofs, the book itself.
encourages the children to answer and ask questions as well as listen.
Magic tricks are introduced at strategic moments to provide added
PLAYTHEATRE / POP-UP THEATRE. For
a small group of children, aged 7 and upwards, an introduction to
theatre using a scene from JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
or CINDERELLA, in which children play the
parts, operate the puppets and do the sound effects.
introduced by a chat about theatre, the
difference between theatre and television. A
30-40 minute programme.
TALK ABOUT THEATRE: Suitable for older primary school
children, preferably with some theatre-going experience.
general introduction to the theatre, and a more specific investigation
into its ingredients - plot, characters, setting, music, lighting,
sound effects, etc.
to write plays, showing original manuscripts of David's own work, plus
A 30-40 minute programme.
‘This is just a quick note to say thank you so much for the wonderful day that we had with you regarding our author visit. The children and staff alike were incredibly inspired and your love and warmth of books (all books) really came through.
Thank you again for inspiring us all to be authors!‘
Assistant Headteacher at a London school.
your performance and workshops were wonderful and the girls thoroughly
enjoyed them, so thank you very much for all your hard work.' A school in Wimbledon
you for a brilliant day - the children have not stopped talking about
your visit.' A school in Weybridge
thanks for a wonderful morning.
The children were captivated.' A school in Brook Green, London
‘The feedback from teachers was excellent and the children all had a
wonderful day.’ A school in Chilton
three letters written by Year 5 children from a school in Hampshire
that David visited recently.
you so much for coming to our school during book week .It was so much
fun and your magic was amazing. My favourite part was your spectacular
performance of "The Gingerbread Man". Also your jacket was really cool!
It was especially nice of you to tell us how you make books into plays.
Now I'm sure our play will be much better and easier to make. I hope
you enjoyed it as much as I did...'
'...I especially liked the Gingerbread man. It is crazy how you pulled
all those gingerbread men out of the pot. I learnt what was needed to
make a pop-up book. I will have a go at home...'
you for coming to our school. It was really funny listening to your
stories. You are a great magician! I especially liked it when you
pulled all the gingerbread men out of the tin. The pop up books were
very clever. I have bought "Save the Human" and it is a brilliant book.
I learnt how easy it is to write a story. I used to be scared of books
but now I love them...'
Letters of Recommendation (Click on
the letters to read them)
ARDEN JUNIOR AND INFANT SCHOOl
it was wonderful watching a true professional at work!..
...You captivated audiences of over 200 children,
even though their ages ranged from 5 to 11 years
and you did this twice in one afternoon!......
you kept the children spellbound.....
CHASE MIDDLE SCHOOL
David Wood is a prolific and versatile children's author, playwright,
composer, actor and director...
... David was very
flexible over numbers and he was able to keep the attention of large
groups of sixty or ninety children....
children were encouraged to ask and answer questions as well as
bonus from the visit was that we were able to sell several books only
obtainable through David Wood at discount prices on a sale or return
basis. He was available for book signing sessions in the dinner hour
and was very generous with his time...
Kindergarten & Infants School
you were inspirational and the children have talked of little else
today. What a wonderful way to christen our library...
GROVE PRIMARY SCHOOL
... David spent a lot
of his time before Bookweek discussing an appropriate programme for the
performances combined music, magic, storytelling, and there was a high
level of audience participation with the children...
showed the children how he had been through the process of writing and
publishing his books from his original ideas to the completed work...
children were inspired by his magic and storytelling for a long time
... David Wood
catered not only for all ages but for different educational needs...
In October 2004 I was delighted to spend four
days working in the British School in Brussels, thanks to the
invitation from Hilary Vervaeck. I did several sessions with the
Nursery and Reception children, plus three performances of THE
GINGERBREAD MAN storytelling, several sessions to Years 3, 4, 5 and 6,
and a talk to parents and children. It was a hectic, but highly
enjoyable few days, as hopefully some of the photos prove!
DAVID WOOD, children’s author and playwright,
argues that authors’ visits to schools should promote reading as fun.
“A disaster,” moans an author. “No
one seemed to know I was coming, I felt like a leper in the staffroom
and no one even offered me a cup of tea. Not only that, the kids were
three years older than I'd expected and didn’t go a bundle on my Baby
“A disaster,” moans a teacher. “He
was so nervous! He couldn’t make himself heard beyond the front row. As
for turning the kids on to books and reading, he probably put them off
extremes, but not totally far-fetched. Some authors communicate
brilliantly on the page but not in the flesh. Some teachers fail to
make the most of authors visits.
But I believe that
authors visiting schools (and libraries) can, with careful
pre-planning, make a major, indeed magical, contribution to the
National Year of Reading, or any year.
I’m an author who
really enjoys school visits. My background as an actor and children’s
magician helps enormously. I love performing. But I never go in
unprepared. Detailed liaison with teachers means I can approach each
age group differently, offer six or seven sessions in a day, and
hopefully enthuse the children to want to read more once I have gone.
Sometimes I start with a storytelling performance (with magic and
music) for the whole school, following it up with several interactive
sessions with smaller groups. Entertainment is the key. Books are fun
is my message. I try not to make my sessions seem like lessons. After
all, I’m facing a captive audience. They haven’t chosen to meet me.
Therefore I owe it to them to give them something special. For infants
and younger primary-age children, my visit should be something
exciting, a change from the usual routine, a novelty. They are still in
that delightful stage of willing responsiveness, not yet having reached
the age of silent, curled-lipped cynicism. And I believe that we
authors should relish the chance – the privilege – of sharing stories
and thoughts with them.
For the younger ones, good
picture books with a strong story, but with not too much text, can help
them learn to read almost without realising. They will start to
associate the words with what happens in the illustrations, especially
if there are repeated phrases to join in with. An appealing text,
appealingly performed, with audience participation, will linger in the
children’s memory, enabling them to link the spoken words with the
printed words when they look at the book next time. Catchy rhymes are
helpful too. And humour.
With Richard Fowler I
have created several novelty storybooks with characters who pop through
slots as the story progresses. These books have the appeal of toys;
they are interactive and fun, immediately adding another dimension to
the idea of “a book”. When I use these books in schools, the children
always want to play with them; having gained their interest in the book
as a fun object, it is not difficult to make reading the text an
equally important part of the game.
I show these novelty
books to older children too, not so much as stories, but as samples of
my work. Again, the fun element breaks the ice and opens the door to a
more general discussion about books and reading. Apart from talking
about favourite stories, common themes and reading for pleasure, I
often tell them what one of my teachers once told me. “Education” he
said, “is knowing is how to use books”. Not read, use. I ask the
children what they think he meant and lead them towards recognising the
importance of books in daily life. The Yellow Pages, the A to Z, the
T.V. Times are great examples of books we use. Children are often
surprised that I talk about such books rather than “serious” books. But
they all agree it’s useful to have a book which lists plumbers, if the
loo overflows, or gives us directions or tells us what time
“Neighbours” is on.
And soon they agree
that they couldn’t use these books if they couldn’t read the
information they contain. And the notion that anything they want to
find out about is in a book (or CD Rom!) somewhere seems to impress
children and give a practical purpose to reading which, for some, rings
more bells than simply learning reading for its own sake.
further encourage children to enjoy using books and words, I sometimes
demonstrate how to pick several words at random from a dictionary and
collaboratively to link them into an original story. Sometimes I
deliberately hand the dictionary to a child with limited reading
skills. By inviting him or her to use the book for a fun purpose, if
necessary inviting another child to help read out the chosen words, I’m
sure it takes away some of the mystique.
Learning to read
involves unlocking a code. For some children the code is more
impenetrable than for others. Teachers and parents bear most of the
brunt of providing the key, but a visit from an enthusiastic author can
inject a magic spurt of oil to encourage the key to turn.
TASTE OF DAHL
It was a
pleasure and a privilege to work with actor Anthony
Pedley (whose archetypal performance as the Big Friendly
Giant in my production of Roald Dahl's THE BFG has lit up the stages of
three West End stages and most No. 1 UK touring theatres) on his
one-man performance A TASTE OF DAHL.
Tony plays Dahl, using only the great man's own words. He performs
excerpts from the books and explores his theories about writing for
TASTE OF DAHL plays in schools, libraries, bookstores,
at festivals and at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden.
is a splendid performance - funny, scary, informative and inspiring.
Highly recommended to schools! To find out more, please visit www.anthonypedley.co.uk.