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When Hares become Dragons: Helping Currie Community High School students set up shop!

One of the fantastic themed bookshops set up by Currie Community High students.

Getting children more engaged with reading is often considered a daunting task. However, that’s not what the students and staff at Currie Community High School think, and they’ve gone all out to show how crucial reading can be, both inside and outside the walls of a bookshop.

Golden Hare was lucky enough to team up with the school recently, where Maggie Grieve, John Schmidt and headteacher Doreen MacKinnon had set up a Dragon’s Den-style event for their students, while encouraging several outside organisations to supply Dragons for their industry expertise, including yours truly!

The aim of the task? To split up into groups of six, create an idea for a bookstore that had a unique feel and aesthetic, and to put together a plan to make it a practical reality. Students were given a free hand to be as creative as they could be (as I’ll soon describe, some of them really shot for the stars!), and were encouraged to think about what books would reflect their store’s ethos, as well as how much money they would need to make it an effective business.

However, the crucial element for getting that money on Dragon’s Den are the Dragons and it was the same formula here! In our role as Dragons, we were given money (of the Monopoly variety) to invest in any proposal from the students that piqued our interest. If they caught our imagination, and showed how they could implement it, we’d put up the cash!

A team of Dragons worked with hundreds of students over the course of the three day event.

Some of the ideas that the students had were absolutely stunning, from a horror-themed bookshop (complete with cobwebs, spooky lighting and thematically sinister book selection) to a bookshop that also housed an aquarium to look after mistreated fish. We had comfy cafe bookshops, natural world bookshops filled with trees, fantasy bookshops that dazzled the eye and many more wonderfully innovative ideas.

The solutions and thinking for all of the proposed bookshops was never less than fabulous. Students proposed completely original, often stunning answers to the questions put forward by the Dragons, consistently impressing us with how methodically thought out their plans could be. As fierce as we Dragons can be, we couldn’t help but invest when they had shown such thorough thoughtfulness and creativity.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible hard work, both on the day and before it, of the staff at Currie Community High. With over three hundred students taking part across three days, the event had to be organised superbly, which it proved to be. Maggie and John deserve special praise; they maximised the enjoyment and engagement for the students, while creating an environment where the industry Dragons could help the students develop their bookshop plans to their fullest.

Golden Hare had been lucky enough to have one group of students visit us in store before this event, where they seemed to find a lot of inspiration, as well as grilling the staff for tidbits of information about how a bookshop actually works. Having the students engaged and interested in all the aspects of books, whether intellectual, emotional or commercial, was a joy and they fed back what they had learned at Golden Hare into their bookshop plans.

Overall, it was really exciting for us as a bookshop to see how we can help out in our local community and how profound an impact a well organised idea can have on young minds. Thank you to all the staff and students at Currie Community High; we’re looking forward to being fearsome Dragons again in the future!