"Bolton School was such a large part of my life. I can safely say that I would not be doing what I do for a living if it wasn’t for the vibrant arts scene at the school and the encouragement that I was given."

Neil Eckersley, Former Pupil and Theatre Producer

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Children’s Fiction Award Inspires Literacy Day

Friday, 07 February 2014

Sixty Year 6 pupils from fifteen local primary schools were welcomed to Bolton School’s first Literacy Day today!

This has been organised in conjunction with the Bolton Children's Fiction Award. The Award aims to encourage children to read for pleasure in a wide range of genres and introduce them to exciting new authors. The Literacy Day feeds into this by giving the visiting primary school pupils a chance to engage with four books on the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award shortlist. They were split into three groups and given workshops on the books throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the Boys’ Division hosted a further two sessions. One of these was based on Moon Bear by Gill Lewis. The book is about a young boy who is forced to work on a bear farm, and explores themes of animal cruelty, conservation and animal rights. Inspired by the book, the workshop also gave the pupils a number of facts and figures about these issues. The children were then asked to create a poster for a bear conservation charity using these ideas and discussion points. This called upon their writing skills to make the posters emotive and to draw attention to the bears’ plight.

After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross was the subject of the final workshop. The book is set in a dystopian near-future, after the collapse of the British economy. The main character flees to France with his little brother and ends up living in a refugee camp, and the children were asked to put themselves in his place for the duration of the workshop. As well as looking at an extract from the book, they were also given a poem about refugees, to make them thin and really empathise with his situation. They were then asked to write down what they would take with them in a ‘Memory Box’ – with only items small enough to put inside a shoebox allowed. Many of the children chose photographs or scrapbooks, but teddy-bears and trinkets were also popular choices.

In the Girls’ Division, pupils looked at Chasing the Dark by Sam Hepburn, a story full of suspense and mystery. In order to look at what techniques have been used to whet the reader’s appetite, the children watched the book's online trailer before discussing the impact it had on them. They then looked in detail at the cover of the book, and tried to decide the genre, what age group the book was aimed at, and whether it would appeal more to boys or girls. The focus was on the techniques used to pull readers in, and the children were encouraged to exchange ideas with pupils from other schools.

In one of the Girls’ Division Drama studios, the pupils contributed to a workshop about Young Knights of the Round Table by Julia Golding, a story split between our world and the world of fairies, Avalon. The children were divided into groups of five, so that there was one pupil from each school represented. Then, after a short introduction to the book, the groups were asked to create a tableau or freeze-frame of a moment from the book. They talked about what was needed in order for the tableau to be effective: strong facial expressions, clear body-language and confidence. Afterwards, they improvised a short scene which was once again based on a prompt from the book’s storyline.  This not only stretched their drama skills, but also gave them an insight into the ideas in the book – and hopefully encouraged them to read it to find out more!

At the end of the Literacy Day, the children gathered in the Arts Centre for a final assembly. Two Sixth Form girls read extracts from Young Knights of the Round Table and After Tomorrow, and talked to the children about their love of reading. Afterwards, the pupils received certificates for participating in the event – and also copies of one of the books shortlisted for the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award!

It's not too late to take part in this year's Bolton Children's Fiction Award! Schools throughout the UK are welcome to contact Mrs L Frew in order to do so.

Children can leave their comments about the shortlisted books at the Bolton Children's Fiction Award website, and by voting for their favourite book 6th - 16th May 2014.

The award ceremony will take place on Friday 27th June 2014.

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Smiles all round - the children really enjoyed the Literacy Day

Smiles all round - the children really enjoyed the Literacy Day

A freeze-frame of Avalon

A freeze-frame of Avalon's army inspired by 'Young Knights of the Round Table'

Pupils collaborate to create posters based on Moon Bear

Pupils collaborate to create posters based on 'Moon Bear'