The Coventry City of Culture Trust recently partnered with Writing West Midlands to help 4 local schools participate in Read On, a project that will see an anthology of short stories for young people, commissioned by young people, circulated to schools.
During the 2021 lockdown, in deepest, darkest winter, we sent writers Matt Black, Rob Ganley, Andrea Mbarushimana and Rosalind Harvey to run online creative writing workshops in four of Coventry’s secondary schools: Barr's Hill School, Corley Centre, President Kennedy School and Cardinal Newman School.
The aim of each workshop was for the pupils to inspire their writer with ideas for a short story that they would then go away and write – with each story featuring the characters, storylines and settings suggested by the young people.
While it is not unusual for writers to have to write to a commission, or on a particular theme, it is not often that the people telling them what to write are teenagers!
Unsurprisingly, the stories that have emerged examine lockdown in different ways. Some are about escaping from reality, some look at anxiety and stress faced by young people living in a pandemic. Other focuses include present-day Coventry, as well as an alternative reality Coventry, creating interesting staging for some of the stories.
In all the stories, the main characters are young people dealing with all sorts of obstacles, adapting to new and changing circumstances, and finding within themselves the strength and capacity to cope.
“Many thanks for allowing us to be part of such a wonderful project!” MFL Teacher, PKS
“It was a great experience for the students – thank you so much for involving us!” Head of MFL, Barrs Hill
“Thank you for a fantastic session - our students absolutely loved the opportunity and are buzzing with ideas.” Cardinal Newman School
The Anthology will be widely distributed in Coventry secondary schools before the end of the school year. We will also have some available to order and, if you are interested, please sign up to the Writing West Midlands Schools & Young Writers mailing list to receive ordering details once it is published.
Writing West Midlands Schools & Young Writers Mailing List
If you are a teacher or work with young people and want inspiration to get young people writing creatively and reading more, you can read our practical guide, available online.
Reading and Writing Guidebook
Writing West Midlands is the Regional Literature Development agency. It runs workshops and creative writing events for writers of all ages, including monthly Spark creative writing groups for young people aged 8 - 18. You can find out more by visiting www.sparkwriters.org or www.writingwestmidlands.org
This project was part of the READ ON project, co-funded by Creative Europe. More information about READ ON, and its mission to get young people reading and writing creatively, can be found at www.readon.eu