Reach for the Stars with a Book

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At a time when the book is being assailed on all sides we thought it would be appropriate to set our standard and rally to the cause. Libraries are closing, electronic books are replacing the hallowed paper  page and people simply aren’t reading anymore. Initially tempted by the compact packability of an electronic reader, we pulled back at the last moment and decided that we would continue to buy the real thing, that is until the real thing ceases to exist. 

Our days are bookended by the pleasure of settling back and enjoying a good read. A read to launch us into the day. A read to escape from the reality and relative mundanity of our working lives. Relative, that is, to the excitement that can be found within the pages of a book. As someone probably once said, for the price of a library ticket we can travel to far off climes, sail the high-seas with pirates, daydream on desert islands and race down snowy mountainsides on skidoos. And it’s also a pleasure to do this without the ever burgeoning presence of ‘the screen’ – the television screen, the computer screen, the iPad screen. We say ‘Give us paper every time!’ 

Which is why we love this poem by  Levi Tafari.  Ironically you’ll be reading this on a screen of one description or another. Unfortunately, sometimes we just have to bow to the inevitable.

We found ‘Reach for the Stars’ in Interactive student’s book 1, an English language course published by Cambridge University Press and written by Helen Hadkins and Samantha Lewis.  And here are some ideas on how to teach it.

Firstly, it would be a good idea to give some information about Levi Tafari. To mention that Levi was born in Liverpool in 1960 and has writte  a number of books of poetry including ‘From the Page to the Stage’ published in 2006.  He has worked with drummers, dancers, reggae musicians and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. His poems are about many topics, including love, society and the environment. Levi is an excellent performer and as such his poems lend themselves to being read aloud.

Then a short speaking activity in pairs about poetry.

a) Do you like poems?
b) Do you know the names of any famous poets?
c) Do you think it is difficult to write poems? Why?/Why not?

If you can find a recording listen to Levi Tafari reading his poem. What do you think ‘Reach for the stars’ means?

Go through some of the vocabulary from the poem, perhaps matching words to pictures.

library   ship   plane   train   witches   insects   birds   knife   Braille   cover

Underline these words in the poem. Then read them aloud and match the pairs of words that rhyme.

old   boys   planes   words   birds   space   noise   race   sold   trains

Then in pairs read the poem, taking it in turns to read the verses or indeed alternate lines. Perhaps reading the chorus together.

The lesson could then finish with a general discussion about reading habits.

a) Do you like reading?
b) What type of things do you read?
c) Where do you usually read?
d) Are you reading a book at the moment? If so, what are you reading?

Reach for the Stars by Levi Tafari 

BOOKS ARE COOL

BOOKS ARE FUN

BOOKS SHOULD BE READ

BY EVERYONE

BOOKS ARE COOL

BOOKS ARE FUN

BOOKS SHOULD BE READ

BY EVERYONE

 

Well it’s time to visit

your library

there you can borrow

BOOKS for free

BOOKS for the young

BOOKS for the old

In BOOKSHOPS

BOOKS are bought and sold

BOOKS on poetry

BOOKS about sports

BOOKS that are long

BOOKS that are short

BOOKS for girls

BOOKS for boys

with sound effects

that make lots of noise

BOOKS about cars

BOOKS on trains

BOOKS about ships

BOOKS on planes

BOOKS on animals

BOOKS on religion

BOOKS that give you

INSPIRATION!

BOOKS with witches

casting spells

BOOKS that you can

scratch and smell

picture BOOKS

that have no words

BOOKS on insects

BOOKS about birds

Biographies

portraying people’s lives

fictional BOOKS

putting you on the edge of a knife

horror BOOKS

with a sting in the tale

BOOKS for people

who read in Braille

BOOKS on romance

BOOKS with passion

BOOKS on the famous

BOOKS on fashion

BOOKS on war and outer space

BOOKS about the people of the human race

BOOKS that teach

you how to cook

you can even get

BOOKS about BOOKS

text BOOKS are used

in education

they are filled

with information

Now if you really want

to succeed

choose the right BOOK

and start to read

REACH FOR THE STARS

and you’ll discover

now digest that BOOK

FROM COVER TO COVER

Because…

BOOKS ARE COOL

BOOKS ARE FUN

BOOKS SHOULD BE READ

BY EVERYONE

BOOKS ARE COOL

BOOKS ARE FUN

BOOKS SHOULD BE READ

BY EVERYONE

 

 

 

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About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to istanbuljohnm@hotmail.co.uk.
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