- Melanie Notaras
How Teachers Influence the Story: exploring teacher characters in My School Adventure
Talk to any school-aged child and they’ll tell you about their teachers. And tell you. And sometimes tell you and tell you again. They can’t help it – teachers are an integral part of a child’s day. Primary school age children in particular identify very strongly with their school and their teachers. And luckily our schools are filled with enthusiastic and energetic teachers who really want to encourage our children to read. They know how fundamental good reading skills are (propelled by an enjoyment of reading) to every child’s academic success. “Kids just need to read. Anything. It doesn’t matter what, just so long as they’re reading. That’s what counts,” my son’s teacher said to me once.
I nearly nodded my head off in agreement.
My School Adventure was created with these ideas in mind – in particular to leverage the innate interest kids have in their teachers and schools, to encourage them to read. And guess what? Kids do love reading a story where their teachers are in it! The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] is funny and exciting and there are lots of weird twists. Reading the book, they can imagine themselves doing extraordinary, magical things at their very own school that they don’t normally get to do.
So if you can’t have a school without teachers, and if I, as the author, couldn’t possibly know the teachers who will be in the story years from now, before I wrote the book, then how do the teacher characters exist? How can I cater for all the hundreds of thousands of human variations?
How can I write a character I will never know or meet?
I’m going to let you in on my author secret. It’s pretty simple actually – I let the reader do all the work. The teacher characters are written completely devoid of description or character. Once their name is stated, they speak, then continue with the story. The whole book rests on the child’s imagination filling the blanks, based on what they already know about the teacher – what they look like, what their voice sounds like, how their gestures will be etc …. and it’s very natural and easy for the child to do this as these details are already very well established in their head. Hey, if I tried to write any detail in, I’d get it wrong, for sure.
There are four teacher characters in The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] and they do normal teacher things like taking the roll in class, supervising, and explaining to children. They’re gender neutral (so all characters can be either male or female), politically correct and at all times act appropriately. They also participate in some of the wacky adventures, including often being a hero, leading the way, karate fighting with a bunch of revolting art chairs and occasionally being eaten by monsters! Of course!
Teachers volunteering their names for the novel should be well-known to all students and should be present at the school during the book promotion period. Even if children don't get their current class teacher as a character in the story, as long as the teachers are well known, the children will relate to and really enjoy the book. And if you're lucky enough to have lots of fantastic teachers vying for character roles, why not invite students to vote for which teachers they want to star in the story? One school even ran a 5 cent fundraiser to choose the four teacher characters from a selection of 6 awesome teachers! It was a lot of fun and raised extra funds!
So who are they? Teacher 1 is the main teacher character - the reader's (fictional) class teacher. Teacher 2 is the second most prominent teacher character, who sets up the Art Show (still quite a major role, think of them as “Best Supporting Actor”). Teachers 3 and 4 are very minor characters (teachers of other classes) who (sorry) get gobbled by Glob Man.
Teachers have enjoyed having their names printed in the book, recognising it as an easy way to encourage students to pick up a book and read. Kids love sharing the adventure with their teachers, and teachers appreciate that it’s a great way to help build the student-teacher relationship. Plus it’s a rare treat to see your name starring in a book!
Want to know exactly what the teachers say and do? See HERE.
My School Adventure customises The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] for schools and will be releasing a second novel The Science Fair That Went Berserk At [Your School Name Here] later in 2018. For more information on how My School Adventure can assist your school please visit www.myschooladventure.com – and don't forget to ask for your school's free sample book!
Interested in more? You can connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or @MANotaras on Twitter. Or join my new Facebook community "Get Your Child To Read More"!