What drew you to the new opportunity to refine Dawn of the Unread as a literacy engagement tool for KS3 students?
It felt like the perfect project to sink my teeth into! Dawn of the Unread has so much scope to engage KS3 students. It is really accessible and rich in detail with so much to explore. It is a portal to literary heritage, linking young people to characters and stories from the past in a way that is uniquely relevant to them. I am excited to help shape the ways in which schools and students can access and enjoy the stories, and use them as a jumping off point for wider learning.
Your previous role involved working in challenging secondary schools and inspiring a love of storytelling and writing. How did this work and what difference did it make?
I worked with First Story on their year-round programme of creative writing residencies, events and activities, and it was incredible to see the impact on young people. They got to work with top notch writers who encouraged them to step outside their comfort zones and express themselves in a supportive environment. Tapping into their own stories and perspectives, with no pressure to write in a certain way or to pass a test at the end of it, really helped them to grow in confidence, to communicate more effectively and courageously, and to find a sense of value in their own voice. Students were more motivated to read and write going forwards, and having their work published in a book meant they had a lasting record of their achievements. The book launch events were really moving, with a palpable sense of pride from the schools, families and friends, and the wider communities. I think it changed the way people saw the students, and how they in turn saw themselves. (Or perhaps the other way round!)
You’re known for building partnerships – are there any particular organisations you’re keen to build partnerships with as part of the Dawn of the Unread project?
It is fantastic to be working with the Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature team at a really exciting time for the city, and there are so many amazing organisations who have already played a part in making Dawn of the Unread a reality, both digitally and in print. I am really looking forward to exploring how we can work together to make the resource engaging and useful for schools, as well as working closely with the Creative Quarter to help strengthen links between arts, culture and education partners.
Finally, what’s the book you’re recommending now?
Dawn of the Unread! I discover something new every time I read it. The book is published by Basford printers Russell Press, who have supported the project since inception; and retails at £14.99.