Speakers for Schools launches virtual book club for teens

Speakers for Schools launches virtual book club for teens

The charity Speakers for Schools has launched a new virtual book club and creative writing course for students across the UK with authors Annabelle Steele and Alex Wheatle.

Working with organisation Book Clubs in Schools and Andersen Press, the new club covers 3,500 students at 125 state schools and colleges across the UK, aiming to develop literacy skills and boost confidence. Sessions will take place weekly from 9th June to 7th July and are available to those aged 14 to 19. Students will be able to discuss a shared book and undertake several workshops from literary experts over the course of the five weeks.

These will include actor Ralph Ineson providing guidance on researching, author and poet Steele leading a session on storyboarding, author and communications coach Professor Simon Hall advising on drafting, and Andersen commissioning editor Chloe Sackur sharing insights on the editing process. Author Wheatle will answer questions from book club participants and announce the four creative writing entrants who will receive a mentoring session from him.

Participants will also draft a creative writing piece to be showcased online in a virtual library, enabling all young people who complete the programme to become published authors.

All students will read Wheatle's novel Cane Warriors (Andersen Press), following the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica in 1760. As well as being able to share their thoughts on the novel during live discussions each week, students will join an exclusive Q&A with the author.

Wheatle said: “Having the chance to engage with this age group and to share my experience of the world of literature is fantastic. There is a reason why book clubs continue to be so popular, greatly enhancing solitary reading and the creative process of writing as well. It is important that we start making up for lost time following the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on young peoples’ literary skills—and crucially, their confidence. I hope everyone enjoys Cane Warriors and I can’t wait to hear their thoughts.”

Jason Elsom, c.e.o. of Speakers for Schools, said: “The aim of this book club is to inspire young adults, whether that is with their reading or creative writing, and to provide a place to exchange new ideas and socialise while developing new literary skills. I am delighted to have the support of Book Clubs in Schools and Andersen Press, who have partnered with us to create this enriching and engaging programme, aiding young peoples’ current learning and standing them in good stead for the future.”

To find out more and register for the next National Teen Book Club event, visit speakersforschools.org/national-teen-book-club/