Bolton School Senior Boys

Children's Author Teaches Boys to Make a Book in an Afternoon!

Bolton School Year 7 boys celebrated World Book Day by taking part in a writing workshop with children's non-fiction author John Malam.

The workshop was an interactive event which allowed the boys to work in teams of four to produce their own 16 page A4 non-fiction book! Boys worked around an activity worksheet and each team member was given a specific role - author, editor, designer or illustrator. Each team was given a choice of two different topics for their book and with John's help they worked through the different stages of producing a book including creating a title, researching, planning, editing, proof-reading, blurb writing, designing and illustrating the cover, printing, and even selling the book. As the finale they folded their worksheets to transform them into books. At the end of the session the boys had created works such as 'Krazy Kartoons', 'Supersonic Solar System' and 'Perilous Pyramids'!

The fast-paced workshop recreated the deadlines of real life and highlighted the need to work cooperatively as part of a team, encouraging pupils to develop communication and decision-making skills.

During his visit to the school John also gave a talk to all year groups describing the journey of a non-fiction book, from first ideas to printed pages. He outlined the work of key people involved and explained who does what, when, how, and why. The talk gave pupils an insight to the publishing process and was illustrated with examples of relevant books and materials, including in-house publisher's items. Pupils were encouraged to ask any questions at the end, and the lucky Year 7 group got to put it all into practice with the workshop.

National Literacy Trust Reading Champion John has been a full-time author since 1994, and his information books for children can be found in schools, libraries and bookshops all over the world. Many of his books are about history, especially topics taught in British schools such as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Tudors, and World War II, but he covers a range of subjects including the weather, cars, aircraft, hyenas, dragons, dinosaurs, and famous people! John attended the University of Birmingham where he received a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology. He excavated at sites in the UK, and headed the archaeology unit at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire, before becoming an editor for UK publishing companies and then a full-time author.

John said: "I really enjoy school visits, and it's great to be asked. My visit is very different from that of a fiction author or a poet. It's a lively fact-filled day in which everyone learns at least one thing they didn't know at the start of the day - and that goes for the teachers too! This was my first visit to Bolton School and I was very impressed. The boys were a fantastic group to work with and I feel I have made a room of new friends!"

Head of English at Bolton School Boys' Division, Mr Richard Griffiths, said: "The workshop was a fantastic opportunity for the boys to work with a successful author. They all really enjoyed meeting John and working together to come up with ideas. They achieved a huge amount in one afternoon and I was amazed to see the worksheets transformed into books in such a short space of time!"



John Malam and boys

Children's non-fiction author John Malam helped the boys to produce a book

John Malam

The boys were given a worksheet which took them through the whole process of producing a book

John Malam

The worksheets transformed into a 16 page book