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BCFA Shortlisted Authors Share Stories

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Children involved in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award (BCFA) have enjoyed hearing from all six shortlisted authors since the list of books for 2022 was announced back in December.

This exciting series of talks was held on Zoom with Bolton School Book Club members attending live from the Library. The authors talked about their shortlisted book, their writing process and inspirations. Boys and girls asked enthusiastic questions of all six writers, delving into detail about their books and asking more widely about writing. The recordings were then shared with everyone involved in BCFA 2022.

Using technology to connect with authors virtually began during the pandemic when they were unable to visit in person. However, continuing with the virtual visits this year has allowed every single pupil involved in the Award, across the whole of Bolton, to hear from every one of the authors ahead of the voting period!

Head Librarian Mrs Howarth and Librarian Mrs Caller said:

‘The decision to change the format of the Book Award this year was taken due to the social distancing measures necessary for COVID but has proven to be a positive change – as well as a steep learning curve for the Librarians who have had to learn to edit videos and manage zoom meetings!  The videos give a wider audience opportunity to ‘meet’ the authors and the 20 minute format has been ideal for using in Book Club meetings. At Bolton School Library, we have noticed an increase in books borrowed following the videos and they have maintained the momentum and interest surrounding the Award throughout the year. Our keenest readers have benefited from the words of wisdom, writing tips and learnt about the publishing process. We have also enjoyed reading tweets and comments from participating schools who have shared the videos with their readers.’

The new format has been well received by participants across Bolton.

Fiona Fahlin, Librarian at Outwood Academy, said: ‘Students at Outwood Academy Hindley have for the first time embarked on a book trail, and what a better one in which to take part!

‘We have enjoyed reading and discussing the books and especially the author Zoom sessions which have been really helpful in not only rounding up the reads and seeing the authors, but there have been some amazing insights into creative writing and character development.  This will really help our students going forward into GCSEs. Thank you Bolton School Library!’

Children at the Olive School Primary said:

‘I have been fascinated about how the authors have been inspired.’

‘The authors give a sense that anyone can be an author and derive inspiration from everything around them.’

‘I truly believe now that reading is a passport to countless adventures.’

‘The authors are people like you and me, but they have drawn from emotions and events around them.’

Mr Franklin, Bolton School Junior Boys’ teacher, said: ‘Our BookBound group watched Helen Rutter’s Zoom. They were excited to see the author of the book and listen to the stories that she had to tell. It was interesting to hear about her inspiration for the story, and how it was based on her son. The boys found her tips on story writing very useful, and they were encouraged by the fact that she had not always been a ‘writer’ or ‘good at English’ when she was younger.’

Mrs Joseph, Bolton School Junior Girls’ teacher, said: ‘Year 6 thought there was a great selection of books in the Book Award – it was fantastic to be inspired with new reading ideas and a varied choice of reading material. The pupils enjoyed the online author talks and said it was nice to hear about the book from the author themselves. The aspiring writers feel much more confident.

‘As a teacher I liked the fact that we could watch them at a time that suited us. We included some of them in our World Book Day celebrations, too.’

The BCFA shortlisted authors for 2022 are: Helen Rutter (The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh), Elle McNicoll (A Kind of Spark), Ele Fountain (Lost), Lesley Parr (The Valley of Lost Secrets), Joe Wilson (The Island That Didn’t Exist) and Stewart Foster (The Perfect Parent Project). They each connected with Bolton School’s Book Cubs on Zoom to give a short talk and answer pupils’ questions.

Pupils across Bolton are now busily voting for their favourite books and the winner of this year’s Award will be announced in July 2022.

If you would like to watch recordings of any of the authors’ talks, please contact Bolton School Library: library@boltonschool.org

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