Swindon pupils treated to World Book Day drawing and reading event from popular author

By Jessica Durston - 1 March 2023


Children's author and illustrator, Tom Percival, took a trip to Mountford Manor Primary School to host a special World Book Day session for KS1 pupils.

Tom gave a reading of his book 'Billy's Bravery', and had the pages up on the screen so the children could enjoy his illustrations too

Tom Percival visited the Swindon primary school this week to host a special session, centred around his book 'Billy's Bravery', which the children could use their £1 book tokens to purchase. 

The children's author and illustrator joined Mountford Manor Primary's KS1 teachers and pupils in the school hall, alongside representatives from the National Literacy Trust, and staff from Swindon's Waterstones store. 

Tom, aided by a standing screen and tablet, first introduced himself to the students through an interactive presentation, and shared some of his backstory and explained how he became the popular author and illustrator he is today. 

He focused on getting the message across to the pupils that it took a lot of time and practice, and mistakes along the way in order to reach his goals. He stressed that if they carry on reading, learning, and practising the things they love doing, they are sure to succeed. 

Following this presentation, the author then treated the children to a reading of his new release for World Book Day 'Billy's Bravery.' This new book joins the rest of his stories that make up the 'Big Bright Feelings' series.

The 'Big Bright Feelings' series is described as 'the perfect springboard for conversations with children about mental and emotional health, positive self-image, building self confidence and managing feelings.' 

Tom explains: "A lot of my books focus on mental health and wellbeing in one way or another. I think I tend to focus on the business of being human, and being alive. I think we need to acknowledge all areas of life, whether that’s mental, physical, all of that stuff - we need to look after ourselves.

"It’s really important that children, no matter what age they are, are aware of how they are feeling and how what they are feeling inside affects their mood and how they interact with other children. If we could all be aware of our feelings and how to regulate our feelings to ensure we have positive relationships with other people around us, then I think it would help a lot of the world’s problems go away.

He added: “I want to make books that have a reason for being – books that do something. Entertainment is great and there is room for all sorts of books – we need ones that are just silly and just make you laugh, because kids love that. However, I do feel there’s room for silliness and slightly more serious discussions around feelings. I try to do both and make a lot of my books funny, and convey some sort of idea around feelings.”

Once Tom had finished with his reading, he encouraged the children to join him for a drawing session. He asked some pupils to come up to the front and draw a shape on his tablet, he would then turn the shape into a picture before their eyes.

Afterwards, the illustrator showed his young audience how to draw a character in his own style, and then one in their own. He taught them how to create different expressions using facial features. 

To close the session, Tom then picked up his guitar, and invited the pupils to join in his 'Big Bright Feelings' song, complete with animal noises. He invited one of the boys to join him by providing a drumbeat.

Anish Harrison, Swindon Hub Manager for the National Literacy Trust (branded Swindon Stories) said of the event: “This session with Tom has been wonderful for celebrating World Book Day – in partnership with the National Literacy Trust. The Trust work directly in communities to spread a love of reading, and a love of literacy, particularly within our least advantaged areas as well.

"We do have to bear in mind that although these children are receiving their World Book Day tokens, some might not get the time or the resources to get to bookshops and things like that. This is why it is really important to us to bring those books, the stories, and the love of reading to our communities.

“The children have been absolutely buzzing throughout Tom's session, which is great to see. The point of these sessions are to make children excited about stories and reading – as it is for everyone. Research has found that humans think in terms of stories – we think in terms of narrative and it’s how we understand the world. This being said, I think, that actually accessing stories and accessing books, to me, is a human right.”

Tom was also in agreement with Anish regarding the importance of World Book Day, and added: "World Book Day is important because I cannot think of any other organisation that does more to bring about a love of reading, and reading for pleasure, which is vital for children’s success. Whatever the metrics of your background or family history, reading for pleasure is one of the key things to help children to succeed in life.

“What World Book Day do by offering such a broad range of titles with their special £1 books, and events like this one I have led, is bring about a joy and love of reading for pleasure.”

Before the pupils vacated the hall at the end of the session with Tom, they had the opportunity to stop off and collect their £1 book token books from the World Book Day table, staffed by Jess and Meg from Waterstones' Swindon store. 

One of the pupils, M, said: “I liked doing the drawing with Tom and watching him make pictures on the whiteboard. I also really liked the story about Billy. I was brave like Billy before coming into the hall this morning because I didn’t know what we would be doing.”

Another young attendee, Amelia, said: “I loved listening to the story and doing some drawing in the hall.”

A further, KS1 pupil, Maisie, added: “Tom was really funny – I liked how he said he had magic hands but he didn’t, he was using a tablet. His song was good at the end too!”

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