The UK’s Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, inspired the next generation of primary school teachers with a creative and entertaining guest lecture at the Faculty of Education’s annual ‘Read to Inspire’ event.

The acclaimed author and illustrator, best-known for the Goth Girl series of children’s books as well as his political cartoons for The Observer, continuously sketched as he spoke about his role as Children’s Laureate and his career as a ‘doodler’. Chris also emphasised the importance of school libraries and read from several of the poems he has illustrated.

Prior to his talk, Chris delighted the assembled trainee teachers and staff from Edge Hill’s partner schools with his spontaneous sketches of audience members, which he signed and presented to them as keepsakes.

The event, which took place on Tuesday 23 May, also included practical tips on encouraging children to read more adventurous literature from Nikki Gamble, Director of the Just Imagine Story Centre in Essex. As well as discussing a recommended reading list, road tested by Year 6 students, Nikki also spoke about the Centre’s latest research into guided reading and a new podcast for teachers – all accompanied by Chris Riddell’s witty scribblings.

After the event, Chris chatted to students and teachers and signed copies of his books.

Abigail Johnston, a 3rd year Primary Education with QTS student, said:

It was great to have the chance to see a real life author and illustrator on campus. I’ll also definitely be using Nikki’s advice on choosing quality literature in my own practice.”

Fellow 3rd year Gemma Jackson also came away with practical ideas for the future:

With the pressure of SATS, Year 6 children often don’t get the chance to read complex pieces in guided reading. Teachers are under pressure to get results from guided reading but there’s very little guidance, so it’s useful to hear about the work that Just Imagine is doing to support teachers.”

Organiser of the event Michelle Vickers, a member of the Primary English Team, said:

We look forward to this event each year. Nikki and our guest authors are always inspiring but Chris, in particular, has had a significant impact on our student teachers and visiting school partners.”

Pictures drawn by Chris Riddell at the event will be auctioned by the Faculty of Education to raise money for Skem International, which is part of Skelmersdale Outreach Trust, which works to support refugees in the local area.