St Chris hosts North Herts Schools' Book Award

Friday 17 March 2017

On Wednesday this week close to a hundred students from nine local schools took part in this year’s North Herts Schools’ Book Award, hosted by St Chris.

The Award was started four years ago by local school librarians, keen to keep the interest and excitement alive about the best books for young people after the closure of the Herts Schools Library Service. From a small start, with just 40 participants in 2013, the award has grown each year and now features a visiting author as well as book discussion groups and a vote for the best books on the shortlist. Students from participating schools got together in mixed groups to discuss this year’s shortlisted books, culminating in a vote for their favourite title.

This year we welcomed multi award-winning author Kim Slater to be our guest speaker. Kim is the author of ‘Smart’, her first novel for young people, which was voted the best book in the younger readers’ category by students in last year’s North Herts Award. Kim has since written a second novel for young people, ‘A Seven Letter Word.’ Many students at the event queued to buy copies of Kim’s books and get them signed after they had heard her speak. Kim told us about her journey to becoming a published author relatively late in life, after a successful career in finance. Kim described how she decided to go back to university, once her daughter was grown up, and study creative writing – something she’d always wanted to do. ‘Smart’ began life as a short story, and was so well received by everyone that read it, that Kim decided to expand it into a full length novel for young people – once finished, such was the quality of her writing that she found herself in the enviable position of having five literary agencies offering to place the book with a publisher. Kim encouraged the students not to give up on their dreams, even when setbacks occur and that dream seems very hard to achieve.

Once Kim had finished her talk, it was time for her to announce the winners in our two book categories – younger readers and older readers. Both the winning titles were convincingly ahead of the other two books in their categories, with the younger readers’ title going to ‘Jessica’s Ghost’ by Andrew Norriss, and the older readers’ going to ‘Girl on a Plane’ by Miriam Moss.

In the afternoon, Kim gave a longer talk to our own I and II Group (Year 7 & 8) children, this time also focusing on building a character through creative writing. The children had many questions for Kim after her talk, and we hope that some of them have been inspired by her example to develop their own creative writing skills.

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