Category Archives: school visitis

My own experience of Bookbuzz

I’ve been lucky enough to have three books picked for the Booktrust’s Bookbuzz programme.  Dear Scarlett in 2013, Murder in Midwinter in 2017, and now Bus Stop Baby in 2018.  The scheme is for children entering secondary school, and is all about choice and reading for pleasure.  Schools buy into it at a subsidised cost of £3 per pupil – and the children get to choose a book to keep from a selection of carefully selected titles.

Each time my books have been part of the scheme, I’ve done stacks of school visits and have seen first hand the effect of choice and ownership.   I’ve  signed battered copies of Bookbuzz books that a child has read over and over – because it is the only book that they own.   I’ve met kids who don’t read but who have found in the Bookbuzz selection something that chimed with them – because they found it themselves.  I’ve found that school libraries that haven’t got many books and have been poorly funded are enriched by the selection that they automatically get.  I’ve noticed that schools that do Bookbuzz often seem to put reading for pleasure at the heart of their ethos.

bookbuzz

If you are a secondary school teacher, librarian or parent – do look it up, here – you can sign up until the end of this month.

And actually, year 6 students can do it too.

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End of day 4 and I am in awe…

It’s been a bit of a marathon this week. Starting with the fabulous children of Newbridge Primary School in Bath, who between them have bought 101 copies of Murder in Midwinter. Yes, 101. Like the dalmations.  Astonishing.  Credit goes to amazing teachers and a very wonderful mum who got the whole thing going – and some keen, keen children who made the event go like a bomb. I really enjoyed it.

Next was Birmingham, a great inner city school with terrific dedicated teachers and a mixed bag of enthusiastic children, who wrote their little socks off, and who gave me a fabulous welcome. Children who exploded with thoughts and imagination and deserved their terrific teachers.

Then Cottingley – this is further north than I thought. After an horrendous trip up the M5/6/62/ and on… I reached Bradford, then Shipley, and then Cottingley.  A village school of considerable size, I workshopped 180 children (yes it is possible if the staff are astonishing, and they were) and there was some brilliant blood chilling writing, as well as wild and wonderful ideas from the littler ones.  And then I drove back to Birmingham.

All of these visits have proved to me once again, how utterly amazing the huge army of primary teachers are in this country. What absolute saints. We come in, and fly out – we are exhausted by our efforts with children, breathe sighs of relief when it’s all over, but they do it day after day after day.

As ever, I am in awe.

Thank you for having me.

cottingly

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A year five teacher whose name I failed to catch, dressed as Gansta Granny.

World Book Week – Day 1

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I’m writing this the night before the day it all kicks off.

Overnight I will go from reclusive, sitting on the sofa with my laptop writer, to all singing all dancing author in schools .

Normally, I slope about in gardening clothes, a bit grubby, but ready to respond to a falling tree or leaf at the drop of a hat.

Tomorrow, proper clothes, proper shoes. A powerpoint (just that word sends chills down my disorganized spine).

There will be maps of schools to find. Names to remember and corridors that are all remarkably similar to negotiate. School lunches, and school smells. Smiling teachers, anxious teachers, smiling children, reluctant children. In some cases, hostile children and I have to be honest, at times, I will long for my sofa and my laptop and my gardening trousers.

But then, when it’s all over and I look for photos on my phone and I remember to tweet and I write down the mileage (quite a lot this week) I will long for a trip out. A chance to leave my manuscript hanging, my characters stuck in a cave, half way up a cliff. I will long for someone to make me a coffee, not me. And I will remember the children that laughed, that got excited about books, that stared into space and told me about the best thing they ever read.  And I will treasure the letters like the one above that arrive unbidden from children who have read my books.

And I will be glad of being a children’s author, rolled out for this annual festival.  I will long for the excitement of World Book Week.

Just remember though. We are, like puppies, not just for one time in the year. Most of us like to crawl out of our shells more often. You just have to ask.