Our main purpose of presenting our book to children is to get their opinions. That might sound pretty obvious but in the heat of preparations for our school presentation it was easily something that could become an afterthought.
As always, we'd given ourselves an enormous amount of work to do, printing, cutting and sticking bits together to make our presentation more visually exciting than just looking at Eleanor and myself. Now you might say, if you read your book in a certain way you will bring it alive, capture the children's imagination and you won't need all those props; we needed the props.
Consequently, we didn't have a huge amount of time to think about how we were going to get honest feedback from the children. We did have a question and answer session on the day, but you always feel you are missing the views from the less gregarious children and we wanted views from across the spectrum of personalities.
So we decided on creating a feedback form that we could handout. Yeah boring, right? Well no! That's where you're wrong (if you thought that, I mean; if you didn't then I apologise, that was a rash and presumptive of me) we were going to make sure it was anything but boring. It would have lots of colour and things to do as well as collecting their views along the way.
So one side asked a few simple straightforward questions about the book and the other side had something fun to do: Create Your Own Hero! Woo Hoo!
Actually that 'Create Your Own Hero' side proved to be a very good call, but before I explain why, here are the two sides of that single page form...
Forming a Relationship
When we got a batch of the forms back later that week, we started to realise that, far from just being a fun activity, the 'Create a Hero' side of the form actually told us something about the child who had made the comments on feedback side of the form. It was a way of getting a clearer picture about the sort of child that had decided to comment on one aspect or another. Something we will definitely consider when gleaning future feedback -find out a little bit about the person making the comment if you can!
Making adjustments based on feedback can be difficult if you don't understand more about the person that gave that feedback. It could mean that you could be in danger of making a sweeping change to your story where a nuanced alteration would have been the solution.
Oh yeah, plus we got to see lots of funny hero creations, plus we now have lots of funny hero pictures to post on our site (which we will do and let you know, of course).
And we will discuss the feedback in future posts.
The teachers were also happy with the story creation aspect of 'Create You Own Hero' (it was part of their school book week). We had given the children a chance to give their hero a score rating for strength, courage and wisdom. This 'Top Trumps' style scoring gimmick actually made the children think a little more about the attributes of their protagonist before they started their story. Yes, they could score their hero a ten out of ten for everything but does that make for a very interesting character? Isn't what makes a character interesting their weaknesses too? Even if they are a hero.
One other interesting point to note that surprised me: I'm glad we handed the forms out at the end. Once those forms were in front of the children, that was it. Heads down, filling them out, all attention to us was lost. Not a bad way to finish though, we just need to make sure we never hand them out at the beginning!