Blog posts tagged "Reading+for+pleasure"
The start of this month saw the publication of i-SSASSINS - the novel that I've written for Pearson's new Heroes series. To stray into shameless self-promotion for a moment, i-SSASSINS is action-packed spy adventure - a teenage Spooks for the digital generation to give you my ten-second elevator pitch! I'll write more about the inspiration behind i-SSASSINS and the spooky ways in which the real world is starting to catch up with the events in the story in a future blog post, but if you want to find out more about the book and read the opening chapters then check out the Books page.
Recently, there have been lots of stories in the press about reading and literacy filled with some seriously scary statistics:
"Three in ten children live in households that don't contain a single book"
"Children with no books have negative attitudes to reading and lower levels of attainment"
"The majority of boys switch off from a book by 100 pages in and a quarter lose interest after just a few pages"
The books in the Heroes series aim to target these reluctant readers, especially boys, and turn them on to reading. I'm really proud to be involved in this project as I know how difficult it can be to reach these readers and help them find the books they will love. As the series editor for Heroes, the fantastic Frank Cottrell Boyce, said when he appeared on the BBC Breakfast sofa a few weeks ago:
"Pleasure can't be taught. Pleasure can only be shared."
In the work I do in schools, I see lots of excellent ideas for promoting reading for pleasure: wonderful displays of inspirational books and authors; teachers and students sharing their reading recommendations; reading groups; book swaps; reading trails, student book bloggers and teachers tweeting their #FridayReads. (If you’re a teacher who's interested in promoting enthusiasm for reading, Michael Rosen’s Reading Revolution website has a wonderful 20-point plan that highlights many of these ideas and more and I've also written a leaflet on this topic.)
I hope that i-SSASSINS helps to hook some boys (and girls!) into reading. If you read it and like it, check back soon as I'll be blogging about the books you could read next - from James Bond to Cory Doctorow!
What sounds do you hear when you think of Halloween? The howl of the wind through the trees? The ominous creak of a footstep on the stair of an empty house? The distant cackle of a witch or the low moan of a zombie? Well, it's time to add the rustle of pages to this haunting melody.
All Hallow's Read is the wonderful invention of Neil Gaiman. The idea is that in the week of Halloween or on All Hallow's Eve itself, you give someone a scary book. You can find out more information about this venerable tradition here and here.
What I love best about this idea is that everyone can get involved, from the youngest reader to the eldest. You don't even have to buy a book to give away if you can't afford to – just take a look at the dark and cobwebbed corners of your bookshelves where the scary books huddle and pick one to give away. Maybe there's a book there that you were too frightened to finish, so why don't you set it free on Halloween to scare somebody else instead?
In that spirit (cue uncanny music and supernatural sfx - whoo-whoooh!), here's a list of some of the scariest reads that are lurking on my shelves, waiting to pounce on any unwary readers this All Hallow's Read...
Spooky picture books
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
A cautionary tale about a witch flying her broomstick one blustery Halloween night...
Funnybones by Janey and Allen Ahlberg
"On a dark dark hill, there was a dark dark town. In the dark dark town there was a dark dark street."
The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Because, as we all now know, if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over...
Creepy stories for older children
The Gates by John Connolly
Stephen King meets Monty Python says the Amazon review and I wouldn’t argue with that!
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The book that single-handedly increased reported cases of koumpounophobia to epidemic levels. Buttons for eyes..
The Dead Ways by Christopher Edge
A fast-paced and frightening supernatural conspiracy thriller... What do you mean I can’t mention my own book? It’s my blog!
The Ghost Stories of M.R. James
An unnerving collection of tales from the original master of the macabre.
The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
Everyone knows about Sherlock Holmes, but Thomas Carnacki was the only detective brave enough to investigate the supernatural mysteries that lurked beneath the gaslight.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
A dark and twisted tale that’s even more frightening than you might remember.
The stories that scarred my childhood
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Never go looking for a book on your older brother’s bookcase, unless you’re prepared for what you might find...
It by Stephen King
This great article by Xan Brooks explains why.
The House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
Original, astonishing and oh, so scary, this is the only book that has ever made me measure the inside and outside of my wardrobe just to make sure...
Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill
A confession: for a long time, I was literally too frightened to finish this book. Read it late at night if you dare.
So these are some of the books I’m planning to give away this All Hallow’s Read. Let me know which scary stories you’d recommend in the comments below or tweet these using the hashtag #AllHallowsRead.
Remember, this new tradition is the perfect opportunity to remind people that the most entertaining nightmares won’t be found in a horror film or late-night TV show, but are the ones that swim from the depths of our minds as we turn the pages of a well-crafted tale...
Spread the word.
At the end of last week I received the fantastic news that Twelve Minutes to Midnight has been chosen by Booktrust for their inaugural Bookbuzz list. Bookbuzz is a new reading programme that offers secondary schools the chance to give their Year 7 pupils the choice of a book from a specially selected list of 17 titles that includes fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
The Bookbuzz programme aims to support reading for pleasure as children make the transition from primary to secondary school, which is time when many pupils can start to drift away from books and lose their love of reading. As someone who has written publications about promoting enthusiasm for reading and improving reading in schools, I am incredibly proud that Twelve Minutes to Midnight has been chosen to be part of this wonderful programme.
Bookbuzz rolls out this September to secondary schools across the country and schools who wish to take part have until the 20th July to register. So, if you're involved in secondary education and want to encourage reading for pleasure with some fabulous books and resources, get the Bookbuzz!
A huge thank you to Booktrust for choosing Twelve Minutes to Midnight, and Nosy Crow and all the other publishers who support this vitally important initiative.
Over the past week or so I've been delighted to receive some lovely emails from students who have picked Twelve Minutes to Midnight as their Bookbuzz choice. To find out more about Bookbuzz, check out the fantastic website where you'll find competitions, quizzes, book reviews and much much more. You'll even be able to watch a video of me introducing Twelve Minutes to Midnight and hear from a young reader who explains why the story gave him goosebumps.
A huge thank you to everyone who has chosen Twelve Minutes to Midnight as their Bookbuzz selection.
Amidst the excitement of the publication of The Black Crow Conspiracy, the third and final book in the series that began with Twelve Minutes to Midnight, I was thrilled to learn last week that Shadows of the Silver Screen, the second book in the series, has been shortlisted for the 2014 Lambeth Phoenix Book Award. I was particularly pleased about this as Twelve Minutes to Midnight was up for the same award back in 2013, appearing on the shortlist then alongside books by such wonderful authors as Michael Morpurgo and Jonathan Meres.
Nobody writes a novel in order to be shortlisted for a prize - not even Hilary Mantel - but since Twelve Minutes to Midnight was published back in 2012, one of the most exciting things for me as an author has been seeing it appear on the shortlists of regional book awards across the country. After months spent writing alone in a shed at the bottom of my garden, to suddenly find out that young readers from Northern Ireland to Warwickshire, Redbridge to Southampton, not to mention Hillingdon, Dudley and Oldham too, were reading the adventures of Penelope and her friends at The Penny Dreadful was completely amazing and rather thrilling to me. When Twelve Minutes to Midnight won its category at the Stockport Schools Book Award, it was fantastic to have the chance to meet the children who had voted for the award - to see the wonderful and creative work that their reading had inspired and hear their excitement about the books they had read. For me, these awards are about celebrating young readers - encouraging children to discover new authors, pick up books that they might not usually try, and, most importantly, to read for pleasure.
I'm really looking forward to attending the award ceremony in Lambeth on the 1st of May and finding out what the readers there have made of Shadows of the Silver Screen. And if you're a young reader in Lambeth, don't forget to vote!