I was lucky enough to go and see both Michael Rosen and Andrew Motion talk at the British Library yesterday on poetry in childhood and both of their experiences of poetry when they were young. The talk, as is what you expect from two dedicators of changing the curriculum to support more poetry, focussed a lot on what children in schools are receiving now. One of the main points made was how little interaction both Laureates had with poets and authors in their repective youths and that they never had a writer visit their schools. They both agreed that this gave them a massive disadvantage. As they were saying this I couldn't help but think of all the authors our groups manage to get into schools to give students the opportunity to see what a real life writer is like. I can only imagine the impact that this has on the children that get to see these authors and have them enthusing them about the art of writing itself.
I know when I was young we never had a visit from an author either and there was always a sense that people who wrote books were either dead or were these great people who were so inaccessible that if I ever wanted to become a writer then it was something that would be very hard to achieve. Now I'm not saying it is easy to become a writer in terms of published work, many a writer will tell you that they have a whole file of rejection letters, but what I have come to realise is that authors are just like you or me. They are not inaccessible at all in fact quite the opposite. In my school library I try and get as many authors as possible to come and talk to as many students as possible. The comments I get back from the kids is amazing and you can really see the impact it has on their reading and their writing. So far this year our author visits are in double figures and when we run them we have people clambering at the doors to get in. The teachers all want their classes to see the author and its not to get a free lesson its because they know the impact that it has on the students.
The fact that the Federation brings so many authors to so many children is a massive achievement. Everyone that runs a session with children and authors knows the positive impact that it has, not only in the short term but also in the long term. There are so many different ways that author visits can influence people. Nowadays I am still enthused to go away and read an authors book and even to believe that maybe one day I might be a writer. If this is the effect on me then imagine what it is like for all the children to realise that becoming an author is actually an achievable thing and something they can strive towards.
- Adam Lancaster
- I currently work as a school librarian at a school in Welwyn Garden City in Herts. I am also the Chair of the Federation of Children's Book Groups a National Reading and Literacy Charity as well as being founder of National Non-Fiction Day. I also work as an indepedent consultant to publishers, schools and librarans
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Monday, 6 April 2009
Well i think i my just have recovered from conference!! thank you to everyone for all their lovely comments over the weekend and I hope that people will enjoy following me over the course of the next year. Like I said in my speech at the close of conference every year we go to a magical place to meet old friends and make new ones and to be enthused about the year that lies ahead of us to go and do the best s we can to fulfil our promise of bringing books to as many children as possible. As we sit and listen to the wonderful authors talking and then discuss with friends old and new what we have seen and heard we leave conference with renewed expectations as to what we can achieve in the future. We are all volunteers who do these roles with our hearts first because we know it is the right thing to do, we know the difference we make even if others don't. Conference allows us remember this, as we are surrounded by people just like us, people passionate about reading and books we are recharged, reinvigorated to go and encourage new readers and expand those already reading. Conference really is a magical experience and one that takes a couple of days to digest!!
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Well as the conference starts to loom ever closer and with my speech having its final touches made to it I am full of hope for the next year. After the NYR reading has been more in the spot light recently and whether or not you feel the NYR was a success or not, more people are talking about reading. This can only be a good thing, and gives the opportunity and opens doors for other great work to be showcased. I am hoping that we as a Federation will continue to build on the good work we do and that this will develop further readers and reading communities through our national and local work!