There is a place, deep in a Footscray shopping strip, where Mr Raw, a dinosaur teacher teaches his dinosaur students on the 28th floor, while Reg, on floor 72, can turn your dead friend’s skull into an ornament. Maybe there’s a pool of sharks on the 47th floor or a disco on the 99th floor.*
But it is on the 100th floor at ground level, where all the action really happens. A small group of staff and volunteers guide kids in workshops for reading and writing. At the 100 story building on the 100th floor, there are holiday workshops for making comic books, packing a backpack for a hero’s quest or inventing a choose your own adventure book. During the term, there are free classes after school for kids, often kids with English as their second language. The staff and volunteers provide bookclubs and writing classes. It is a great place to hang out – comfy chairs and cushions to read in, long tables to write at and plenty of bookshelves filled with books and quirky objects. My kind of place!
The mission for the 100 story building is ‘to provide opportunities for the most marginalised children and young people in our community to build the literacy skills, confidence and sense of belonging that are fundamental to future success’.
A small group of kids form an editorial team and produce a quarterly magazine with contributions from well-known writers and illustrators like Sally Rippin and Sherryl Clark.
My three kids did a workshop on comic books a few days ago. They had plenty of time to explore the 100th floor but were warned to stay away from the trapdoor leading to the underground floors!
They learnt about the arc of the story to build tension in their writing and were encouraged to ‘stretch the truth’ of their stories. Then they drew up their plan, and wrote and illustrated their own comic book. All comic books were copied and the copy rolled up to put in a special vending machine, where we bought another child’s comic book story.
Simon, Brendan and Lachlan were funny, gentle, enthusiastic, kind and creative – my kids engaged with them immediately.
We have bought a subscription to the Pigeon Post magazine – such a worthwhile contribution. My kids are so lucky to grow up surrounded by books and language and stimulation and creative holiday classes – all tools to help them grow up to be their best possible, literate, communicative selves. So important to do something to give all kids the same opportunities!
Mr 11 wrote a comic book about a skater coming head to head with a wizard – riveting stuff. Miss 9 exaggerated a knee injury story – her suffering was terrible! And Mr 6 created drama and tension with a showdown between Batman and the Joker. Three new stories to add to our collection!
- I have definitely mixed up some of the floor numbers! Refer to the amazing illustration on the 100 story building window for correct details!