25 Year 7 students attended the Read for Barnet challenge, along with students from seven other Barnet secondary schools. The students have been reading and reviewing books from 6 shortlisted authors over the last few months and we were fortunate to have 4 of these authors in attendance at the event – Nat Luurtsema, Anthony McGowan, Non Pratt and Ruth Eastham. Students went to presentations by 2 authors, plus a Q&A panel discussion with all 4 of them, and got copies of their books signed. The winner of the Read4Barnet 2018 prize – voted for by the students – was Nat Luurtsema, who wrote ‘Lou out of Luck’. 2 JCoSS students also won prizes for their reviews – Bali Peretz and Joe Willis.
Sonia Ostrovsky 7W commented:
As one of the students lucky enough to go on the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole visit. Each of the authors was inspiring and had helpful, interesting, things to say.
My favourite author was probably Nat Luurtsema as she was really funny (not surprising as she used to be a stand-up-comedian!). Her books are totally relatable for teenagers especially as they are inspired by her own difficult experiences of growing up. She told us how she always begins writing a new novel “by exploring an idea, especially something personal I have been grappling with. It’s always something I know about, something that has actually happened to me.” Hearing this, made me realise that it is important to write about ‘what you know’.
Students also had a chance to ask their favourite authors some questions. The kinds of questions asked were on topics like: “What inspired you to write this book?” and, “What obstacles did you have to overcome when you were writing the book?”
I agree with Non Pratt‘s comment that “a good book makes you feel seen” and I would definitely encourage students to take the opportunity next year to participate in ‘Read for Barnet.’ I guarantee you will like reading the books, love going on the visit and especially enjoy meeting your favourite author in person as well as taking part and being able to ask your own questions. It is all really worthwhile!
The advice the authors gave us offered some insight into how I could improve my own writing and how to encourage myself, especially by writing more often. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of this trip and I hope that I can go again next year.