Posts

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How can you be a writer during the kids' school holidays?

‘Mummy, you’ve been working forever. Stop it, now.’ This is my little boy, recently turned five, tugging at my sleeve and trying to force my laptop shut.  I explain to him that I really need to do a little more, then I promise I’ll…
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Why 'Good Ideas' is a MUST HAVE on every parents bookshelf

I don't very often read how-to parenting books. They can leave me feeling frustrated when I try to put into practice their advice but it ends up backfiring, leaving me with bad-tempered children and wondering where I went wrong. But Michael…
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Which kids' book inspired one man to cycle across the globe?

SuperCyclingMan, currently in Germany I have a friend I went to university with, Will Hodson, who is currently at the start of a five year cycling journey that will take him across all seven continents. And not only that, but he is cycling…
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Fighting back against Kenya's alleged 'non-reading' culture

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a creative writing session in a school with about twenty 10 and 11 year old's. This is the place where I do voluntary work about once a fortnight and the kinds of writing exercises I get the kids to do is received…
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A few thoughts on Rejection

I have been meaning to do this for some time, but finally I sat down this morning and counted up how many times my manuscript of The Poet's Wife was rejected before being taken on by Bookouture. Ok, are you ready for this? 83 times. Eighty-three…
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Ben Okri's ten and a half inclinations

The Royal Society of Literature once asked 10 writers to suggest the 10 books that children should read before leaving school. Instead of writing a list of books, this is what the writer Ben Okri wrote. Pure brilliance. 1. There is a secret…
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I wonder

I am three quarters of the way through my Coursera online course, Teaching character and creating positive classrooms, and at the moment we're focussing on building the teaching of character strengths into lesson plans. With this in mind,…
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Have you ever tried Story Jars to get kids writing?

Story Jars A fun, simple idea to try at home. Children can come up with different people, situations and places and write them on slips of paper. Each child will then pick one paper from each jar and - hey presto - they have the beginning of…
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Magic Box poetry workshop

St.Anne's is a Catholic school in a suburb of Nairobi called Kisserian. This group of kids (aged between 7 and 13) gave up their free holiday time to come back to school for a poetry workshop. We used Kit Wright's wonderful poem, The Magic…
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Halloween Poetry

With Halloween on the horizon, in October I worked with Year 3 pupils at the Banda School to produce responses to James Kirkup's poem 'Who's That?' The children worked brilliantly together to come up with some spooky nouns, adjectives and verbs…