I read an article by Carl Stroud, which announced Roald Dahl had been “..crowned best story teller of all time.”
As I finished the article, my mind began to drift, I began to reminisce and picture my times spent with his stories and the children I shared them with. I could hear his magical words:
‘…watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” (The Minpins)
After I finished the article, my eyes narrowed while I searched for a clearer picture of my experiences with his stories; I saw all of the lessons I had shared with the children at school as well as the story time sessions I had at home with my own children. To this day one of my favourite books to use at school is definitely ‘The Twits’ – there’s just so much to work with! Mr and Mrs. Twit live in a house with no windows, have a garden with no flowers, in which lives a big, dead tree. They are mean, unkind people who dislike children – what horrible characters!
‘…you can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always be lovely.’ (The Twits).
I always leave a dramatic pause while I’m reading this part to the class, I look around the room, at the children and the classroom assistants, to see mouths aghast, eyebrows frowning while we all question and ponder over this concept and our own behaviour.
‘A person who has good thoughts can never be ugly.’
The illustrations by Quentin Blake show quite clearly the deterioration of Mrs Twit over time as her wicked thoughts get the better of her, and so using these images I ask the children to create three portrait pencil drawings of Mrs. Twit, to reveal her deterioration. The children relate to me what they think is an image of kindness, with images of clean long hair and ribbons. I direct their thoughts by asking questions like: ‘does she brush her teeth? Wash her hair? what does she smell like?’ Then we really start to have fun as we consider her appearance as an unkind person, usually the ideas change to her becoming smelly with greasy hair and orange teeth. It’s brilliant! It’s disgusting! The children just love it!
These lessons with Roald Dahl remain dynamic: the language, the vocabulary and not to mention the drama classes linking vocabulary to movement and expression. It’s just spectacular. Thank you Roald Dahl, thank you so much.