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Carnegie Medal award-winning author Meg Rosoff gave pupils a special insight into "turning points” and the role of the “life colander” in inspiring her stories as she visited Trent College as part of the school’s ‘Read To Succeed’ week yesterday (Tuesday 13 October).
Meg, who won the UK's oldest and most prestigious book award for children's writing for her novel ‘Just in Case’ in 2007 and is one of only four people to have won both the British accolade and the American equivalent, the Michael L. Printz Award, discussed the origin of her ideas, the story writing process, and read extracts from her novels before taking part in a Q&A and book signing session.
No fewer than 11 writers are visiting both Trent College and its junior school, The Elms, during Read To Succeed Week this week, with its aim to inspire young people to embrace the huge variety of types of writing to become regular readers.
After explaining how her own inspiration comes from turning points in life and filtering through her “colander" of life experience, she had this advice.
“I love that feeling of being so absorbed in a book that when you finish it you actually feel a bit sad,” she said: “Turning points can be tiny; it can be hearing an old lady talking about the day her child died that 30 years later inspires the first chapter of a book.
"The one thing I always say to young people who want to write a book is don’t be in a hurry. The more stuff you’ve done in life and the more that’s in your colander the more interesting a writer you will be. My life didn’t follow a straight line, it’s a scribble but it’s all those experiences that provide the little bits of inspiration for bits of my books.”
All this week at least two writers are visiting Trent College or The Elms every day, with some events being attended by children from other local schools too, to really bring the written word to life for pupils.
With the government’s recent rallying cry to make English pupils the most literate in Europe in five years, Trent College Head, Mr Bill Penty, believes developing a passion for reading early in life goes far beyond simply improving career prospects.
He said: “There is a real escape and value in picking up a book and just switching off from the outside world for a while. In this digital age where everyone is glued to the screens of their phones and tablets, reading to simply to reconnect can be a powerful element in a young person’s wellbeing. It can help them just slow down and come back into a moment.
“Books also encourage perseverance in students. Books don’t provide the instant gratification factor you get with digital devices but the reward that comes from enjoying a really good book that you’ve stuck at, even when it’s got a bit hard going, cannot be undervalued."