Open the Book Competition Winners!

This year, as part of our 20th celebrations, we launched a competition for school’s to rewrite a Bible story in their own words or pictures.

More than 90 entries were submitted. The winners received a framed cartoon depicting their stories, drawn and signed by Beano artist Kev Sutherland, as well as a copy of The Lion Storyteller Bible, signed by author Bob Hartman, a certificate, an iPad each and one for the school.

Grace Ames - Key Stage 1 winner 

Grace Ames from St Andrew’s CE Primary School, Evesham, wrote a poem about Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary, where Martha busied herself with the cooking and cleaning while Mary sat and listened to Jesus.  

Grace said, ‘I liked the story. Jesus came and Martha said she needed to get some food, but Mary on the other hand was actually listening to Jesus. Martha got angry and told Jesus to tell Mary off, but Jesus said no, you always need to listen to me. If someone comes to your house, you should get them a drink but also sit down and listen to what people have to say.’ 

She chose the story with the help of mum, Emma, and grandad Phil Miles, who’s a deacon in his local Baptist church. Phil said, ‘Grace found it a bit difficult to know where to start, but once we steered her towards a story, she did all the work on the poem herself. Her document on the computer even had the words “Do not help me” at the top!’ He added, ‘I think she’s grasped the story really well. Grace comes to Messy Church with me once a month and she loves the crafts. Our hope is that, as she gets older, she continues to read these stories.’ 

Open the Book has been running at St Andrew’s for 10 years, led by local minister Elaine Major and volunteer storyteller Cath Lattimer. But while most OtB teams assign the main acting parts to adults, in Evesham the big roles go to the children themselves. Every week, Cath goes in to rehearse with eight or nine selected children – and they lead the weekly performances in front of more than 200 pupils. 

Tanya Simpson, who coordinates RE in the school and also runs Crew Club, an after-school club for children interested in leading and organising collective worship, said, ‘The children here love OtB and the experiences of Bible stories every week. We are able to link it to our school values of friendship, respect and perseverance.’ She added, ‘Grace has been coming to Crew Club for a long time. I’m hoping her success will make Crew Club more popular!’ 

Headteacher Andrea Bailey added, ‘Open the Book really contributes to school life here. When you bring Bible stories to life, they really stick. The children get very excited about these assemblies!’ 

Joe Mullard - Key Stage 2 winner 

Joe Mullard, a pupil at Bedstone College, Bucknell, drew a comic strip based on the story of Jonah. In more than 20 separate scenes, Joe told the story from the moment Jonah was tasked by God to go to Ninevah, to Jonah’s dramatic encounter with a giant fish, and ending with Jonah’s message to the people which prompted their wholesale repentance.  

Joe, who wants to be a comic strip artist when he’s older, said, ‘I just liked the story of Jonah, I like the bit where he gets eaten by the fish. I do think there’s a message in there for us, about not being disobedient.’ He added, ‘I had read bits of the Bible, but I like how Open the Book does it. It’s very funny.’ Joe spent two hours planning and drawing his Jonah comic strip, but says his latest comic, called The Bedstone Bamboozle, is more ‘battle’ than ‘Bible’. 

An Open the Book team has been visiting Bedstone College for eight years, running assemblies once a fortnight for around 40 junior school pupils. Since 2014, storyteller Pam Farquhar has been in charge. Her small team includes husband-and-wife John and Martina Bacon, who get up at 6am to get to the school in time to rehearse and prepare the Open the Book assembly. Rather than retelling the story themselves, the team recruit children as actors – and they’re never short of volunteers! John said, ‘The children rush up to us as soon as we walk in, all asking to be in the play. They get so excited! We just love seeing how the children respond to these stories.’ 

Bedstone College’s RE Coordinator Julia Richards, who has two children of her own in the school, said, ‘It’s amazing to bring the Bible into school, and bring Christian values to life through the Bible stories. Some pupils here may think the Bible is old fashioned, but you couldn’t say that after seeing Open the Book!’ 

Bringing the Bible to life

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