Author visits

Taylor High pupils welcome Keith Gray on a balmy afternoon in April

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A select number of S3 students welcomed Keith Gray on a balmy Thursday afternoon to the library at Taylor High School. This visit had been anticipated for several months and when the day arrived the students didn’t actually know what to expect.

We had estimated approximately 20 students attending the session but 25 turned up on the day. This was a “Creative Writing Workshop” usually lasting 90 minutes but due to timing factors Keith had to condense it into a 60 minute slot. As you can see everything was going according to plan (or not!).

Keith had asked for a flip chart, paper and pens for the students. Each student had to write 3 things about themselves and then pass their paper on to the person beside them. This was carried out very sheepishly, then Keith encouraged them to build their story by asking them numerous questions and getting them to write down various words.

As the session progressed all the students became involved with what was happening and with what they were being asked to do. The time passed so quickly, eventually Keith asked some students to read parts of their story out loud and I was surprised at how willing the group were to do this. They were enthralled with the session to such an extent that some stayed behind to interview Keith for a school project.

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World Book Day at St Aidan’s

Report from Marie McGough

The children’s author, Gillian Philip, visited St Aidan’s High recently as part of the school’s World Book Day celebrations. Gillian Philip’s book, Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Lost Children, was one of the shortlisted titles at the recent Scottish Children’s Book Awards. An eager audience of 60 S1 pupils gathered, in the school library, to listen to Gillian talk of her enthusiasm for books, stories and writing. The main body of the presentation focused on myths, legends, and fairytales, and how we use them to tell modern stories from Dr Who to The Hunger Games. The presentation sparked a lively question and answer session much to Gillian’s delight.

Gillian Philip 022_40

A number of the author’s books were available to purchase and Gillian signed these while chatting with pupils. The S1 pupils thoroughly enjoyed Gillian Philip’s visit and a good time was had by all!

This author visit was partly funded by The Scottish Book Trust and organized by the school librarian, Miss McGough.

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Melvin Burgess Visit

As part of Book Week Scotland 2015, Chryston High School were excited to welcome Melvin Burgess to our school on Wednesday 25th November. The event was publicised in the library and across the school with pupils eager to find out if they had been picked to attend the event. 80 pupils were selected across S4 – S6 and due to the fact that the majority of the pupils attending the event wouldn’t be described as ‘readers’ to help prepare them for the visit I went into their English classes and showed a PowerPoint on some of Melvin’s books. It included the cover and blurb from ‘Bloodtide’, ‘Junk and ‘Doing It’, the main themes of the books and some reviews about the books. This led to an open discussion about the pupil’s first impression of the books and meant they had some understanding of Melvin’s works before the visit. Since these pupils would be categorised as reluctant readers  I was pleasantly surprised when a few of the S5 boys told me they were ‘buzzing’ to come and listen to Melvin and hear more about his books.

On the day there was definitely an excited atmosphere as the pupils all made their way to the hall to listen to Melvin. A few of the pupils told me they were really nervous as had never been to an author event before so weren’t quite sure what to expect. Melvin started the talk with ‘Bloodtide’ and although it took the pupils a while to warm up (being 9.30 in the morning) they were soon enthralled with his tales of Norse gods and the story of Siegfried and Brunhilde upon which ‘Bloodtide’ was based.

The next book the pupils were introduced to was ‘Doing It’, I think this was the book the pupils were most looking forward to hearing about, indeed it is the one that has been most borrowed since. Talking to a group of teenagers about sex is always going to get a few laughs, some shocks and a lot of embarrassed faces but the pupils really enjoyed listening to how Melvin went about researching and writing the book. It really brought home to the pupils that books do not need to be boring and that they can and will have stories in them that they can relate to, understand and laugh at.

After asking some questions and getting some really interesting answers from Melvin it was time for the pupils to purchase some books and take the opportunity for Melvin to sign them. There were a lot of pupils with red covers (Doing It) walking about the school that day.

Overall I feel that the event was a huge success, I have had a number of pupils stop me in the halls and come to the library to talk about Melvin and his books. Pupils have been borrowing his books since just before the visit and are still borrowing them now, I have a waiting list for ‘Junk’ and ‘Doing It’. It has been a great experience seeing the pupils enthused about an author and about reading books when it usually isn’t really their thing. I have already been asked if Melvin can came back again and when the next big author event is. Thank you to Book Week Scotland for giving the pupils at Chryston High the opportunity to listen to Melvin talk so passionately about his books and for helping to encourage the pupils to pick up a book and read.

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The tale of Betty the Machete

Kirkland meets Angus and Brian the Brain at OLHS

Kirkland meets Angus and Brian the Brain at OLHS

3rd year pupils at Our Lady’s enjoyed an hour with Kirkland Ciccone, author of Catalyst longlisted Conjuring the Infinite. Kirkland ran through his own reading experiences as a child, explaining the impact of different characters and series at particular times in his life.

Pupils enjoyed Kirkland’s stories about growing up in Cumbernauld, with its lovely libraries and unattractive buildings (his words, not mine). Highlights included how not to get bullied (courtesy of Betty the Machete), the adventures of his young detective club, and an illustrated guide to when book titles go wrong.

Not surprising then that the pupils had a great time, and clustered round to get autographs and buy books. It’s fair to say that 3rd year now have the most autographed English jotters in the school.

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Society of Authors report: benefits of author visits

The Society of Authors has completed  research on the benefit of author visits for literacy and reading for pleasure. The report also recognises the importance of school librarians in organising author visits.

See the results here.

From the Society of Authors:

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, has written to Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, presenting this evidence in order to encourage Ofsted to acknowledge the importance of school libraries and validate this by making it part of their inspections process.

Categories: Author visits, Librarians, LIS reading, PRD / CPD, Reports, School Librarians | Tags: | Leave a comment

Author Kirkland Ciccone visits Coltness High School

Kirkland Ciccone with pupils from Coltness High School.

Kirkland Ciccone with pupils from Coltness High School.

We had a visit from author Kirkland Ciccone on Friday 13th September to talk to fourth year pupils about his debut young adult novel entitled Conjuring the Infinite. The book is set in a youth offenders’ institute for troubled teenagers.   It’s a cracking read, revealing a world of sorcery, supernatural powers, with a good mystery thrown in. Kirkland was very funny and entertaining but his enthusiasm for books was really plain for all to see. Kirkland also writes and performs in his own one man shows for theatre. He is also in the middle of writing his second young adult novel.

Categories: Advocacy, Author visits, Books, Libraries, Literacy, Reading, Storytelling | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Caldervale’s BOOKies’ Burns Supper

On Tuesday 29th of January, a few days late! Caldervale’s S1-S4 book groups, The BOOKies & Catalyst, hosted their 10th annual Burns Supper.

The pupils in the groups had been planning the Supper since the beginning of the new term and with a little bit of help from the LRC Manager, had selected music and poetry to entertain their guests.

Two members of the Catalyst group chaired the event and were joined by members of the BOOKies, who “Addressed the Haggis”, performed “The Immortal Memory” and  “The Selkirk Grace”.  The school’s captains “Toasted the Lassies” and responded in kind, with much hilarity from the audience.  In the absence of a school piper, the haggis was very ably “fiddled” by one of the school’s 3rd year pupils.

The Home Economics Dept did a fantastic job of decorating the room and preparing the wonderful haggis, neeps and tatties.  While one of the pupil’s parents contributed a lovely dumpling for dessert.

Scottish Booktrust Live Literature Funding enabled the group to invite local storyteller, Gerry Durkin, to the school for a class visit on the day of the supper and he kindly agreed to stay to be guest of honour at the event.

Everyone involved had a great time.  The pupils excelled themselves, coming to practices almost every day at lunchtime to try and get their pronunciations perfect and learning their pieces off by heart.  I couldn’t have been prouder if they had been my own children!

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Cathy MacPhail visit to Taylor High School Library

Some S2 pupils had the pleasure of hearing Cathy Macphail discuss her work on Tuesday.  Pupils really enjoyed hearing what Cathy had to say about her books and life as a writer.  It was a really enjoyable experience for both pupils and staff.

Pupils also got an opportunity to buy some of her work and get their books signed.  We hope to have Cathy back again soon.

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