Cottage Grove Primary School Diversity Day

Cottage Grove Primary School Diversity Day

Originally posted 26th May 2023

Greta and Patrick from the University Library and Megan and Soo, two students from BA(Hons) Illustration, enjoyed a day at Cottage Grove Primary School. The school was celebrating diversity and on this, the second of 2 special days, each class was focusing on a particular country which they had chosen to explore.

The day began with assembly in the main hall with all of the children dressed in costumes relating to their countries. Some were wearing beautiful national costumes whilst others chose football kits which we later understood to be in homage to Pele, the late, great Brazilian football player. Some had their faces painted and were carrying things they had made the day before, such as paper dragons. UoP Global team and volunteers were there too and had helped the children with some of the making activities.  The bravest children came onto the stage to share the best things they had learned the previous day.

Patrick, Megan, Soo and I were based in the school library and classes came to visit us to listen to a story which was originally written in the language of the country they were exploring. The books were selected from Near and Far World Books Collection @ UoP:

China: An’s Seed, by Zaozao Wang

Japan: Can I Build Another Me? By Shinsuke Yoshitake

France: Paris: Up, Up and Away, by Hélène Druvert

Brazil: Along the Tapajós, by Fernando Vilela

It surprised me how engaged the children were, they were keen to answer questions, contribute to the story and tell us all they had learned about their countries. Once they had listened, it was time to engage their creative imaginations to colour and draw another character to place in the story. We gave them a template as their starting point and here are just a few of their creations in progress:

Drawing of a Chinese child in a Spiderman top with a small dog
Drawing of a Chinese child carrying a red, white and blue striped umbrella.
Drawing of a woman dressed in pink in the doorway of a "BAGGUTTE [baguette] shop".
Drawing of a woman in purple and blue carrying a croissant and balloons looking towards the Eiffel Tower.
Woman with facial ring piercings punting.
Drawing of a man in t-shirt and shorts carrying a flag pole bearing a Brazilian flag.
Drawing of a human figure wearing glasses and a similar-sized green skinned figure exercising together.
Drawing of an Asian woman exercising while a robot watches on in the background.
Drawing of "Bob the vampire, 12" exercising while Baymax, [infinity symbol] watches and waves from the background.

When the reading was over we enjoyed seeing all the children together, hearing the national anthems from around the world and seeing who had the best costumes. The day ended with everyone parading around the playground to music.

It was good fun to do something very different from my usual working day and it was lovely to work with Soo and Megan, again. Not only have they helped to bring the NFWB collection to life, with their beautifully illustrated banners above the collection and the subject icons within it, they have contributed their time and enthusiasm to this and the refugee reading project and made many children very happy!

For Soo and Megan, who are about to graduate and aim to become children’s book illustrators, they clearly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the children.  Soo says, “I drew children’s books, but it wasn’t easy to meet them. However, with this opportunity, I had a very good experience looking at children’s reactions to the books and their drawings that related to them. I got something pure and energetic from the children while I was volunteering.” Megan reflects,, “I’ve done similar volunteering in the past but nothing to such a large scale that created such a strong sense of community. I really enjoyed seeing what all the children created. It was interesting to see the different approaches and the excitement over the opportunity to construct their own narratives. I’m always keen to help the younger generations find their voice and be heard, which is one of the reasons I want to be a children’s book illustrator and this was a really good opportunity to do so!”.

~ by Greta Friggens

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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