Award winning writers on panel

Victoria Dilly and Sophy Henn
Victoria Dilly and Sophy Henn

The room was abuzz with interest as the presentations began for the first ever Bookchat Roadshow, taking place at Warden Park Primary Academy on Thursday.

This was a unique event, bringing together reading professionals, education specialists, the Public Library Service, Schools Library Service and some fantastic award winning authors.

First up was Victoria Dilly, The Book Activist – and event organiser – sharing ideas on how to encourage children’s reading for pleasure, with a focus on choosing the right book and ensuring all reading is valued. “Parents are the best reading role models children can have,” Victoria said. This was followed by Gill Pawley, from Inkpots a local organisation running creative writing workshops.

Gill emphasised the importance of ensuring that creative writing is collaborative and fun. Louise Weir, co-founder of Lovereading, the UKs foremost book recommendation site, encouraged parents to make use of Lovereading4kids fantastic free resources to help them find the right book for their child and encourage an interest in books and reading in general. The grand finale was a fantastic author panel Bookchat featuring three award winning inspirational authors; Sophy Henn, Nikki Sheehan and Jamie Thomson. Unfortunately, Eve Ainsworth had to pull out due to being unwell.

A lively chat ensued with the authors sharing their childhood memories of reading and writing, their best tips for getting children into reading and writing and why stories are so important. “Empathy – we find who we are and who others are through stories” said Nikki Sheehan. Sophy recommended using images as inspiration for the creative writing process and Jamie suggested using everyday scenarios to help you: “Who knows; you could be sitting next to an international spy on the bus?!”

Parents also had the opportunity to visit the stands, before during and after the event, including local education service Discover & Be, and Helen Arkell the dyslexia and learning needs specialists.

Even the Schools Library Service and the Public Library Service were represented with parents able to join up if they weren’t already members! With a bookstall provided by Waterstones Haywards Heath, this was a collaborative event aimed at helping parents and carers encourage their children with reading and writing. “I’m so glad I came, it was so informative and helpful” said one parent; another commented: “The author panel bookchat was fantastic – inspiring, motivating and funny!”

Victoria Dilly, event organiser and founder of The Book Activist, intends to tour the Roadshow across the South East and beyond.

“Collaborating with relevant organisations and individuals who share a passion for reading and writing has been a hugely worthwhile experience. Initial feedback from parents and carers has been very positive. I’d like to reach as many people as possible with useful information, ideas and suggestions, signposting all the fantastic ways they can support and encourage their children’s reading and writing.”

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Contributed by The Book Activist

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