Friday, 26 September 2014

Chris Leslie MP Starts Proceedings

One major idea underpinning Brilliant Books is that of Role Modelling

When successful people appear at the front of the room talking about how reading was an essential part of their success, then we hope the young people will assimilate the information. 

Much of the time, formal education is foisted upon them in a top-down/on-high fashion and kids lose the point of it somewhere along the line. 

Brilliant Books is funded by the Big Lottery Fund
Hopefully, they will remember the sixteen successful people they meet and connect it with reading.

The first "successful guest" we invited was Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East.

You can check Chris's parliamentary biography here.

...and talked about his life as an MP. 

There are 21 kids booked on Brilliant Books and 18 were there today to hear him speak.

with many parents too. 

In the second half - after a fruit break* that saw the kids devour a massive carrier bag of apples, bananas and Clementines - Chris mentored a group of kids on the topic of "My Favourite Journey".

(For those of you who missed last week, my role will be to collect all the writing together and edit, format and create an anthology of their work. This is the second tranche of Brilliant Books. The young people will then have a permanent memento of their time with us).

The children and parents really enjoyed the session and Chris's delivery was pitch perfect.  

If you are reading this, thank you Chris!

We learned valuable lessons too which we will discuss next week - primarily about activity and keeping the kids occupied over two hours at the end of a school day.

Headmistress Sally Pearce and my colleague Phil Pidluznyj, who is co-ordinating the eight-week workshop, opened proceedings earlier.

Next week, we'll be featuring an interview with Mrs Anona Morley, Deputy Head at Seely Primary School, who is working closely with us over the next six months. 

There she is, on the left.

For those of you interested, here is an extract from Clive King's Stig Of The Dump

and for those on the's a brilliant audio file read by Tony Robinson

See you next week, Mark

Here's what Chris said about us on his popular newsletter...

"This week I was a guest at Seely Primary School’s “Brilliant Books” event. I spoke with year 4 and 5 pupils (pictured) about books and reading and how important literacy will be to their development. It was great fun to be invited to read a chapter from a book that I knew when I was younger; in the end I chose to read from the classic ‘Stig Of The Dump’ by Clive King because I thought it fitted with the sense of curiosity that reading can help spark. 

Particular thanks go to Phil Pidluznyj and his colleagues for coming up with the idea which has gained Lottery funding and where Seely Primary could be the first of several schools taking part in the project."


*Empleo Community Interest Company underpin ALL projects with a philosophy of healthy eating, including the supply of fruit and special teas.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Brilliant Books - Getting Young People Reading Again!

Kids don't read like they used to. 

That's a fact. 

Especially young boys. Many stop reading in the final year of primary school and never pick up a book again. 

My own son has read just three books in his life, despite being on his way to University. 

Like the rest of his friends, he loves PC games. 

And why not! So do I. But I still read.

So, why did my son stop reading?

"Coz reading's boring, Dad. What's the point?"

That's sad. It made me think.

I thought we should do something about it. It's become a bit of a passion for me. I want young people not only to read again, but to consider reading a fun thing to do!

Brilliant Books is funded by the National Lottery

So my friend Phil Pidluznyj and I set up Brilliant Books to do this very thing.

Funded by the National Lottery (where your £2 goes an awfully long way and you probably don't realise it), Brilliant Books is about getting young people reading again. 

Loving reading. To the point where it takes hold of their souls.

Its about showing young people that there IS a point to picking up a book.

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

Reading fiction has tremendous benefits. 

Imagination, creativity, innovation, and interaction are just four factors that researchers show are improved by reading fiction. 

That's stories, to you and I. Made-up stories. 

That quartet of great things does not include the benefits to literacy that exposure to reading books elicits. Individually and as a nation. 

A literate nation is a contented nation.

Surely its no coincidence that literacy levels in the UK are lower than they should be, and our young people don't read in the numbers they used to?

A collection of great books suggested by my friends here on Facebook in the summer - some of these will be featured on
Brilliant Books.
So what is Brilliant Books?

We're working with Seely Primary School in Sherwood, Nottingham. 

You can download a leaflet here.

A Simple Concept

Twenty one young children between 9-1o, including some skeptical and reluctant readers, will work on Brilliant Books for eight weeks. 

Two passionate BB support workers and a Seely Primary School teacher will work with the children.

Eight successful professionals, including a children's author, a music journalist, a scientist and robotics guru, a PR expert and a successful trainer of investment bankers, will visit the school over a period of eight weeks. 

They'll talk books. 

Their favourite books. 

They'll explain to the kids why they read. They will read extracts from their favourite books. They will interact with the young people and play games.

They will tell the kids what the point is - that they would not be where they are now without reading books. And lots of them.

Popular local MP Chris Leslie opens Brilliant Books today. 

We'll buy the school his choice of books and the kids can take them home. 

They'll read in small groups. Then they will work on their own short stories, poems, haikus, music reviews etc over a period of six weeks.

The Brilliant Books Anthology

At the end of six weeks, I'll take the kids work and turn it into a manuscript. They will decide the title.

Then I'm going to publish it - an anthology of the kid's work - in paperback. 

In the final week, parents, interested parties and the rest of us will get together and we'll present the books -  a lifelong memento of their time with us - in a huge celebration event.

There won't be a dry eye in the house.

How You Can Help

You can help us. 

If you're connected to a school (governor, parent), download a leaflet and pass it on. 

Share this blog on FB and Twitter. 

Send suggestions to the Comments Section of fantastic books that influenced YOU as a young person.

I'll post progress every week, on a Thursday.

Get behind us and help us help these young people to see that reading is important, influential and incredible fun.

Mark Barry
Anthology Editor