On the 17th of September 2013 I set off early for Liberton High School in Edinburgh, for what I knew was going to be an exciting day. I was officially becoming their Patron of Reading. Edinburgh’s first!
Their enthusiastic librarian, Christine Babbs, had approached me some months ago and asked if I would consider becoming their Patron of Reading – I was delighted.
I had visited the school before and had always enjoyed my time there.
The Patron of Reading idea was started by Tim Redgrave, the current headteacher at Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph, Denbighshire, and author Helena Pielichaty. It encourages schools and authors to pair up in a close relationship that benefits everyone. You can find out more about it on the website http://www.patronofreading.co.uk/ where schools and authors can put their names up to see if they can find a good match.
There are currently quite a number of Patrons of Reading all over the UK, but so far there are only 4 in Scotland, three in the Falkirk area and as of September, I am the first in the capital.
But I am sure there will soon be many more.
I was excited and keen to get started and Mrs Babbs and I had organised a varied timetable of events during the day. It started with a slightly informal talk to some S5 and S6 students followed by a chance to meet with a great group of bloggers, from all year groups, who will be contributing to the blog I set up.
As Patron of Reading I am keen to get the whole school community involved not just the young people but the parents and all the staff at the school, whatever their role. One way of doing this was to create a mini website and we are actively encouraging everyone in the school community to write blog posts or book reviews for us. Our Books On The Brain is the name of the blog/website and here you can see the book reviews, book lists, writing, news items and competitions.
The blogsite will develop over time as we add to it, but it looks like it will be a lot of fun and the bloggers had some great ideas.
Our first competition was to design the header and it was won by Jamie Cole was in S2 when he designed it last term. We were delighted by his great image.
After discussing the blog with our great team of bloggers I went to speak to some of the S4 classes about creative writing and about how much fun it can be doing research for my books.
At lunchtime there was the official launch party and, of course, there was cake!
In the afternoon I spoke to all of the S1 and S2 classes, about 180 in all, and they were a terrific audience! There were some fantastic questions and it was a wonderful way to end my first day as Patron of Reading.
I am really looking forward to working with the school and getting to know more of the students and the adults in the school community.
For any authors who think they would like to become a Patron of Reading, I would recommend it. There is no right or wrong way to do it, one of the joys is that it is up to you and your school to decide what you want to make of it and so much is possible!
If you are a school why not approach an author and see if they would become your Patron of Reading.