Earlier in the year, I made contact via Twitter with Heather Wright, a teacher at The District CE Primary in Newton-le-Willows. This resulted in an author visit to the school to share Impossible Tales and Eric Appleby with the children. I loved the afternoon I spent there. The place was magical! Reading and literature were highly valued and promoted everywhere I went. I remember driving home buzzing with literary energy.
A little while later, Heather mentioned the idea of putting together a reading conference at the school. It sounded fantastic, but a huge undertaking. Could she make it happen? I was asked if I’d be willing to host a workshop and I jumped at the chance. Heather told me that Reading Rocks 16 was going to happen and to put October 1st in my diary. The rest, as they say, is history. Along with the other members of the fantastic team at The District, Heather created an awe-inspiring event from scratch and on Saturday their vision became reality.
The scale of the event was simply staggering. 150 delegates were treated to brilliant keynote speakers and fab workshop opportunities. Catering was provided and some very fancy portable toilets were installed. Teachers and librarians from across the country travelled to The District CE Primary to take part. The thread that joined it all together was a shared passion for children’s reading.
Admittedly, I was quite nervous as I set up for my workshop. I’d prepared a session about engaging writers through storytelling. Once I’d shaken off the initial nerves, I really enjoyed the session and I must say, the delegates that attended the session were lovely and put me at ease. Hopefully they were able to take something from the session that can be used back in their schools.
My next task was to chat to Russell Prue. He was at Reading Rocks 16 broadcasting his radio programme. Russell was a fantastic man and his enthusiasm for what he does was just brilliant. We talked about my writing adventure and the interview went out during his live show later in the day. Super exciting!
After grabbing a brew, I joined some of the other delegates for a keynote by Mat Tobin. He talked about picture books and my eyes were opened to their power and magic. I must admit that my experiences of picture books are pretty limited, but Mat’s knowledge and enthusiasm hooked me and I even treated myself to a picture book from the Roving Bookshop. Mat was followed by the equally fantastic James Clements who spoke passionately about getting pupils reading. Brilliant!
After lunch, I joined a workshop led by Sarah Wright. I was in awe for 40 minutes as Sarah discussed ways of encouraging children to read for pleasure. For an author who spends lots of time trying to raise the profile of reading, it was music to my ears! The use of technology was a key theme and Sarah suggested lots of innovative ways to use tech to get kids reading. A cracking session!
To finish the day, I returned to the main hall to hear authors Adam and Charlotte Guillain discuss their writing adventure. It was fantastic to hear how they started out and to listen as they talked about their fabulous books.
Reading Rocks 16 was an amazing event! I was honoured to be able to play a very small part. I’m still digesting lots of the ideas and content now. I’d like to say a huge well done to ‘Team District’ for pulling off an incredible achievement. Reading Rocks 16 completely rocked!