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School Writing Group Publishes a Book - Guest blog

KeswickA dark, historical fiction book called ‘The Reader’ has been written by Keswick School’s Writers and Illustrators Club under the pen name of K.S Aitken.

“The story has been team written by 17 people, ranging in age from 11 to adult, and has taken a lot of time and effort to produce,” said Helen Robinson, English Teacher and Librarian at the school .  “We did this team writing project to unite writers and combat the idea that writing is something that has to be done as an individual.  Some chapters were written by individuals, some by groups but the story is continuous and is something that we all feel has been a very rewarding experience.  It really has been a team effort and I am extremely proud of how the students stuck with the project over a period of around 18 months to complete all the drafts to get the book finished.  It is now published and available to buy.”

The idea to write a story together as a club came from a Reader’s Digest competition to write a story in exactly 100 words.  Helen wrote a story about a book that was guarding a secret and waiting for one particular reader to reveal the secret to.  The group played around with this 100 word story until it evolved into the prologue of a new story about a book that was developing consciousness, that wanted not just to be read but to help the people that read it.

The book was launched at the Words by the Water Literary Festival held at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick on Saturday 8th March.  The story, about a book which has thoughts, feelings and opinions and wishes for more than just sitting on a shelf waiting to be read, contains some dark themes and is aimed at a teenage market.  In essence, it is a book for young people, written by young people.

It has been read by successful authors Jim Eldridge and William Hussey who described it as ‘a sheer delight to read’, and ‘a narrative bursting with ideas and invention which is original, clever and rather heart breaking.’  Helen, said that having a published book written by a team of young writers was a significant achievement.    “The process was difficult at times but the team didn’t give up; they worked hard to support each other and the story.  There have been real lessons learnt in how to give and receive constructive criticism and how, as a writer, to edit and redraft your piece of writing for the benefit of the story as a whole.”

To order a copy of the book, priced at £3.99, contact helenrobinson@keswick.cumbria.sch.uk.  
Helen has also produced a ‘teacher-made’ Accelerated Reader quiz for the book, which has a book level of 5.7  The quiz can be sent in Word format to anyone who orders a copy of the book with instructions of how to upload it on to the school’s AR platform.  There is also a trailer for the book which can be viewed on the website.

Also – in other news! - Librarian Launches Creative Writing Website

Keswick School English Teacher and Librarian, Helen Robinson has created a website to try and encourage students with an interest in writing and illustration from different schools, particularly from across Cumbria to interact with each other.

“I have a Writers & Illustrators Club in school, but I thought that there must be similar groups in other schools and that it was a shame that we are all working independently of each other instead of sharing ideas and working together.  Pupils who take part in things such as sport and music often get to meet students from other schools, but for pupils who like reading, writing and drawing, this can often be much more isolated.  I wanted to do something to give those pupils an opportunity to meet and work with others who share their interests.”

The website,  has been live for a couple of months now and has been shared with schools across the county.  There are pages where pupils can share writing tips and ask for feedback on their own writing and illustrations, information on local and national writing opportunities, links to other related websites and Keswick School’s Writing Club blog which is open to anyone to join in with.

“The site was created with the idea of providing a platform for pupils and staff in Cumbrian schools to share ideas about writing, but it would be great if anyone, anywhere could find it useful,” said Helen.  “I’d like to invite anyone to have a look and would welcome any feedback or ideas to help make the website a resource that can benefit as many people as possible.”
Helen Robinson, Keswick School

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