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Soak up some much-needed positivity with When I Coloured in the World!

Buy When I Coloured in the World

Fantastic teacher, Lisa McDermott, was kind enough to share her experiences of using When I Coloured in the World as part of an inspiring whole school project recently. We were blown away by the wonderful, colourful words of positivity that now line High Hesket CE Primary School’s corridors, along with some beautiful, thoughtfully written poems from Lisa McDermott’s students. Read more about the project below. 

When I Coloured in the World celebrates positivity
Wonderful teacher Lisa McDermott

Coming back to school after a national lockdown, during a global pandemic, was always going to be a challenge for everyone involved. However, when I was asked to think of a book that could be used for the whole school on our return in September, as part of our aim to support our children’s well-being, empathy skills and to promote positivity and bring back a sense of community, the decision was an easy one.

Less than one week prior I had attended a webinar, which was recommended to our school by the brilliant team at CDEC. It was held by the fabulous Ayesha from ‘Mirror Me Write’ (check out the website or social media – Ayesha’s spirit and passion for all that she does is incredibly inspiring!) and within it I was introduced to a book that I hadn’t heard of before: When I Coloured in the World by Ahmadreza Ahmadi. Immediately, I knew that I had to find a way to introduce this book not only to my own class, but to other teachers too, in order to spread awareness of its existence and to allow as many children as possible the opportunity to delight in its pages.

Children responded with genuine enthusiasm

I recommended the book to our SLT, who were equally as excited about it as soon as they saw it. Decision made.

Next came the introduction of the book to our children. I felt apprehensive as I was desperate for the children, and the rest of our staff, to be as inspired by the book as I felt myself. I needn’t have. The children responded with genuine enthusiasm and the depth of the discussion it brought about within each classroom was heart-warming and uplifting for all. Children from other classes actually stopped me (at a distance!) in the corridors to tell me all about the new book that they were reading in class and how brilliant it was – a real sign of a successful book in my opinion!

Words of hope line the school corridors

Each class produced a variety of activities around the book, predominantly focused on the all-important (and very relevant) idea of turning negatives into positives. From this, the children were able to showcase and further develop their empathy skills. Not only did this book allow the children to be exposed to and think further about the negative things that can happen around the world and what they think would need to happen to make the whole world a brighter place to live, but it also helped them to explore more personal experiences of negativity and how these could be turned into a positive – a vital activity to support their own emotional resilience and well-being, particularly given the current circumstances.

Year 4’s contribution to the whole school project

To help refresh the sense of community and ‘family’ that we used to take for granted within our relatively small school, we decided to take part in a whole school activity. Each class had an oversized pencil delivered to them with a very important job to do. With each class’s designated ‘colour’, the children were asked to give something positive to the rest of the school. We wrote these on our ‘pencil scribbles’ and then stuck them up all around the school where everyone could see them at different points during the day. The children clearly relished seeing each other’s ideas and, for both staff and students alike, just walking around and seeing so many wonderful, positive words around the school was a breath of fresh air and simply brought a smile at a time when it was most needed.

I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have ever used with any of my classes and I would use it again in a heartbeat. The opportunities for activities that link to the text across the curriculum are endless. Most importantly however, this is a truly wonderful book brought to life by the most beautiful illustrations (by Ehsan Abdollahi) that any child (or adult!) can enjoy and and soak up some much-needed positivity.

  • Recommended as a top book during lockdown – The Guardian
  • When I Coloured in the World is recognised for excellence in poetry – NCTE
  • review by English Association: Endless possibilities for children to create their own worlds of hope
  • ًRead a review by Letterbox Library: When I Coloured in the World shows the power of the pen!

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