Books for Dialogue: The Wall in the Middle of the Book 

07/02/2020

The first half-term of The Linking Network at St. Mary’s with Year 4 has always focused on deepening the children’s understanding of themselves – trying to find meaning behind the question: ‘Who am I?’ In our first year as part of The Linking Network, I saw children being incredibly creative and making optimistic representations of their personalities. However, they did not as readily understand that our fears, our weaknesses and our differences also contribute to our personalities.

To support children to understand this, I used ‘The Wall in the Middle of the Book’ by Jon Agee this year that we were given by the council at the Schools Linking Training : it is a fantastically illustrated tale of a knight and the stories of ‘scary things’ that live on the other side of a wall separating the two sides of the book – only to find out by the end of the book that there are no scary things at all! We read the story and reflected on its message, before working on our very own ‘side of the book’.

For some children, it was an opportunity to begin a discussion around being courageous and one child drew themselves taking a sledgehammer to their wall.  For others, a chance to understand how their strengths and weaknesses work together; making them them!

Then it was time to share. Each member of the class chose someone with whom they do not normally spend time. In pairs, they stuck their ‘sides of the wall’ together and looked at their final pieces of art. Conversation around the room, between children who do not usually speak with one another, quickly turned to strengths and weaknesses and how to  overcome obstacles.

“We both get stuck in Maths, but we could help each other!” one pair said. “I actually love spiders but I don’t like bees,” said another.

The activity was an eye-opening and accessible way for each child to look at their identity; providing the perfect introduction to the question: ‘How do we all live together?’ This could be a fantastic piece of artwork for a Linking Day, where children from each linking class join their sides of the wall, or could even lead to the creation of a giant wall with all members of each class contributing.

Blog written by James Carey – EAL & Community Cohesion Lead at St. Mary’s CE Primary School.

St. Mary’s CE Primary School Balderstone links with Lowerplace Community Primary School, in Rochdale as part of the Rochdale Schools Linking Programme.