Most people know Roald Dahl was a children’s author – but did you know that he was also a “spy, ace fighter pilot, chocolate historian and a medical inventor?” Then read on to discover more about his life and legacy, and join millions of others around the world celebrating Roald Dahl Day on September 13th.
Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales in 1916 to Norwegian parents. He attended boarding school in Repton, Derbyshire, and many events during his time there were later recounted in his book, “Boy”. At Repton, students were invited to trial chocolate bars, which inspired one of his best-loved stories, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
At the age of 23, he enlisted in the Royal Air Force, but sustained injuries at the start of World War II which left him temporarily blind. He recovered and returned to active service as a fighter pilot, not only surviving the war, but also writing about his experiences in his first piece of paid writing, published in 1942. “The Gremlins” (1943) was his first children’s story, and was based on RAF folklore in which small, destructive creatures were responsible for a variety of technical problems facing RAF pilots. After the war, Dahl worked in the diplomatic and intelligence services where he was introduced to the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming, and the director, Alfred Hitchcock.
I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it!
In 1960, his son was injured in an accident in New York, and Dahl helped invent the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, which subsequently helped alleviate head injuries in thousands of children. Despite his colourful early life, Dahl is best known for writing children’s stories, which have themselves inspired generations of children to read and write, and have been made into films, animations and hit musicals.
Each year on his birthday, people celebrate his incredible life and work, so why not join them this September 13th and have some ‘hopscotchy’ (cheerful) fun?!
Never grow up… always down.
One of the things Roald Dahl is famous for is his use of language – or more specifically, for making up his own language. It’s called Gobblefunk and The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary has been published to prove it. We’ve listed a few of our favourites below, as well as some whoopsy whiffling (great) ways to celebrate Roald Dahl Day in your setting:
Gobblefunk word – Meaning
Hopscotchy – Cheerful
Ucky-mucky – Messy
Quogwinkle – An alien from outer space
Squibbling – Writing
One child a week is fifty-two a year. Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear.
Ways to get involved
- Dress up as your favourite character. There are so many wonderful characters to choose from: The BFG, Matilda, Miss Trunchball, Willy Wonka, The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox, and The Enormous Crocodile to name but a few. You could also raise money for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity at the same time by asking for a small donation on your mufti day. The charity was set up after Dahl’s death in 1990, and funds Roald Dahl Specialist Children’s Nurses in communities across the UK. These nurses support children with rare and serious illnesses and help their families in times of need.
- Read some of Dahl’s stories. There are so many stories and most of them have a moral core as Dahl championed children and often set them against cruel or repugnant adults, who luckily, always get their comeuppance.
- Teach numeracy, art or sensory craft by using some of the free, downloadable lesson plans from the official Roald Dahl website. There are special lessons designed for pre-schoolers helped by The Enormous Crocodile. You can download them here but beware – The Enormous Crocodile is grumptious (bad and greedy) and loves to dine on little chiddlers (children)!
- Get crafty and create some delumptious (delicious) new sweets for Willy Wonka. You can get the children to draw them, paint them or use real ingredients to create something edible. Let their imagination run riot and see what amazing inventions they come up with.
- Visit the museum. If it’s not too far to travel, visit the Roald Dahl Museum at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. Be prepared to spend a few mintinks (minutes) there as it’s razztwizzler (exciting and enjoyable).
- Make up some new Gobblefunk words. Ask the children what they would call different things and make a display of their suggestions. You could end up with some rommytot (nonsense) or something giganticus (grand and spectacular). Whatever you get, it’ll be a great way to engage their creative brains and imaginations.
- Hold a quiz. We’ve put 5 famous Dahl quotes around this article, but can you identify which book they are from? Answers are at the bottom of the article but there are more fun quizzes on the main Roald Dahl website that you could use to challenge the children, parents or your staff too. They may even end up all biffsquiggled (confused or puzzled)!
You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.
Win Roald Dahl goodies!
We love Roald Dahl here at Parenta and to celebrate his day on 13th September, we are giving you the chance to win a fabulous prize!
To enter, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – telling us what your setting’s favourite Roald Dahl book is – and you will be entered into a prize draw to win some Roald Dahl goodies.
Closing date for the prize draw is Friday 20th September and the winner will be announced in October’s magazine. Don’t forget to include your postal address too!
And whatever you do, have a gloriumptious (glorious and wonderful) day!
For more information on the day, free downloads and a party pack full of activities, party invites, stickers, certificates and more, see:
I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right.
Answers to quiz: 1. Matilda 2. George’s Marvellous Medicine 3. The Witches 4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 5. The BFG