Thursday, 8 October 2015
Patron of Reading by Keren David
The news is out. For months now, I've been plotting and planning with the brilliant librarian at my daughter's old school, and this week the news was announced. I've going to be Patron of Reading at Highgate Wood School.
Highgate Wood is a comprehensive school in Crouch End, north London, it has 1400 students aged 11 to 16, plus a sixth form. It's multi-cultural and socially mixed, and its alumni include ITV's new political editor, Robert Peston, rapper Chipmunk, DJ Judge Jules and computer hacker Gary Mckinnon who successfully fought extradition to the US after hacking into US military computers, in search of UFOs.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the Patron of Reading scheme to partner authors with schools, there are currently around 100 authors working in UK schools. Here in Haringey, the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green has been working hard to expand the scheme locally, and we patrons have set up an email group for mutual support, information and entertainment.
I'm very lucky that Highgate Wood has a brilliant library - sorry LRC - and librarian Kate, with assistant Noa are already doing a lot to encourage reading in the school. We've been planning the patron role for months now, and hope to be working with all the academic departments in the school, finding a way to infiltrate reading into all the different subjects. This term it's the drama department's turn, with pupils drawing on my book When I was Joe as inspiration (hopefully).
I'm going to write a regular blog for the LRC, and we've announced a book award for the school, with a shortlist of seven books chosen by the LRC's reading group. They were kind enough to pick my most recent book, but I took it off the list - got to remain neutral in my new role!
I'm kicking off by speaking at six assemblies this week and next, introducing myself and my new role. At the first one, pupils aged 14 to 16 were angelically well behaved, and one boy introduced himself afterwards and recommended that I read The Martian by Andy Weir.
Kate put together a video of pupils talking about why they like to read. 'It takes you to another world,' said one pupil. 'It helps you when you've had a bad day.'
Why do you like reading? from Highgate Wood School LRC on Vimeo.
I'm excited to take up this new challenge. I'll report back at the end of the school year to tell you how it's going.