World Book Day: St John's Wood teachers rap and sing sea shanties

Teachers at Abercorn School in St John's Wood used rap and sea shanties to celebrate World Book Day.

Teachers at Abercorn School in St John's Wood used rap and sea shanties to celebrate World Book Day. - Credit: Abercorn School

Usually World Book Day is simply a good excuse for schoolchildren to dress up and for teachers and parents to encourage reading. 

This year, with schools forced to teach remotely, staff at Abercorn Pre-Prep in St John's Wood had a left-field idea for the day on Thursday (March 4).

Led by English teacher Katy Shuttleworth, teachers have produced videos where they rap - and in some cases sing - some of their favourite children's books. 

The idea, according to headteacher Chris Hammond, was to provide a different kind of remote teaching, and celebrate the children's return to the classroom on Monday. 

Mr Hammond even took part. His video shows him combining one of the internet trends of the past few months - sea shanties - with Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo. 

Other books to get an unusual musical makeover included Michael Rosen's We're Going on a Bear Hunt and Lewis Carroll's whimsical The Jabberwocky. 

Mr Hammond told this newspaper: "We saw World Book Day as a chance to celebrate the successful conclusion of remote education. 

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"Katy Shuttleworth came up with the idea that we would sing or rap books to particular tunes. I skirted the rapping by doing a sea shanty instead. 

"I think it's be a really interesting challenge and hopefully if there were any reluctant readers beforehand, they won't be now."

He said the idea allowed teachers to show a bit more of their personalities to their pupils, and felt natural given the way lockdown learning has seen pets and other elements of teachers' home lives occasionally invade Google Classroom. 

He said: "If you give children a rounded sense of who you are as a teacher I think it  helps that 'classroom community'."

Looking forward, Mr Hammond said he felt reading - and finding ways to give children time away from screens they may have been reliant on for remoting learning - would be key in the coming months. 

"Reading can take a bit of the pressure of parents," he said. "And it's good for the wellbeing of children."

Miss Shuttleworth said the idea was inspired by rapping teacher MC Grammar, adding: "I'm certainly no Stormzy, and it's a bit cringe... but you get the idea!"

To see the rest of the World Book Day music videos, visit