SLT News: Award Winning Author Visits JSA!

This week, we were incredibly honoured to have had Simon James Green visit John Smeaton Academy for an exciting author talk and comedy creative writing workshops with our Year 9 students.

Simon James Green is an award-winning author and screenwriter. He contributed to the PROUD book anthology, and his successful Noah books (NOAH CAN’T EVEN, NOAH COULD NEVER, and the short story, NOAH GOES NUCLEAR) were optioned for television. ALEX IN WONDERLAND was nominated for the Carnegie medal and featured in Best Kid’s Books 2019 from The Guardian.

Simon delivered his author talk to our entire Year 9 cohort for their assembly. Awkward teenage hilarity with a positive message? This laugh-out-loud event included comedy anecdotes from Simon’s own (hapless) school days, why LGBTQ+ teens need funny books more than ever, and tackled all things writing, from inspiration, process and craft, to the key themes discussed in the books. Year 9s also experienced a reading from one of Simon’s books, Alex in Wonderland, which was the Year 9 book for our ‘Share A Story’ activity for World Book Day.

Simon also delivered two phenomenal workshops to 60 students, who were selected for their excellent work in English, their engagement with reading for pleasure and interest in a career in writing. Students had the wonderful opportunity to learn how to create their own pieces of funny writing through a range of techniques and a guided writing exercise, which had our students creating funny stories in minutes. Students had fun developing their writing style, creating comedy underdog characters and exploring themes of coming-of-age and comedy through the power of story-telling. Students even received specially made book chocolates for their brilliant work, and left the sessions buzzing with creativity and inspiration.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Simon for his outstanding author talk and writing workshop. The positive impact this has had on our students has been tremendous, with many students feeling empowered to go away and start writing their own stories. Finally, one student was even moved so much by Simon’s visit and the importance of hearing from voices like Simon’s, that he wrote a letter to Simon, thanking him for his fantastic work, and stating that they felt grateful to be able to celebrate their identities without fear of discrimination.

Simon’s visit not only lends authenticity and credibility to the reading and writing process and increases book borrowing but ensures our students have the opportunity to hear from powerful and inspirational voices, and continue on their journey to becoming lifelong readers. It is just one of the brilliant reading for pleasure events and activities we have planned this year!

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