Shauna Hanna

It's your story: celebrating International Literacy Day

Happy International Literacy Day! Launched by UNESCO back in 1965, this global celebration reminds us every year about the enormous importance of the written word to inform, educate and entertain. It’s also a powerful reminder that over 750 million adults around the world lack basic literacy skills – many of them women – often as a result of poverty and prejudice.

Closer to home, we’ve been asking the question “what’s the best way to engage with school kids and kindle their lifelong enthusiasm for reading and writing?”

Keen to find some fresh answers, we headed recently to the beautiful surroundings of Finborough School near Stowmarket – the venue for our first Storytelling Workshop.

We were given a warm Suffolk welcome by the Head of Learning and Development Centre, Karen Barker who introduced us to her very enthusiastic Year 7 students. This less-than-retiring bunch includes several kids with dyslexia, as well as other children from overseas whose first language isn’t English.

Kids writing their stories in teams

The goal of our workshop session: to help kids read more, write more and be more inspired in their creative thinking. How hard could that be?

To kick things off, we asked tame writer Chris Solbé to break down the components of what makes a great story.  Chris has sprinkled his verbal magic on lots of big brands like Sony, Virgin Atlantic, Vodafone and the BBC – so he knows exactly when words are working hard to excite their audience.

After a creative crash course, Chris handed over to Finborough’s Year 7 girls and boys with a serious challenge: to build their own story from scratch, with a cast of characters, a convincing setting and a compelling narrative.

Kids writing their stories at the Storytelling Workshop

Writing against the clock on laptops and tablets with the help of assistive technology, our can-do kids collaborated in groups to build believable personalities and thrash out plotlines. Once happy with their handiwork, each group was tasked to create a storyboard – sketching out the action frame by frame, just like a Hollywood movie.

Kids preparing their storyboards

So now’s your chance to pick the winner. Review all the stories and tell us which one’s your favourite.  We’ll be animating the best contender as a mini-movie and sharing the results to help inspire other kids’ storytelling journey. 


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