Guest Blog by People Doing Things about Literacy

Hello from another newbie

It’s all dead exciting this, innit? What’s not to like about a brand new publishing company bringing lots of lovely new books into the world? But Hot Key aren’t the only ones doing exciting new things.

Award-winning children’s authors, Barry Hutchison (that’s me!) and Tommy Donbavand, have just launched a brand new online magazine designed to help boost literacy levels in children. Aimed at teachers, librarians, parents – in fact anyone with an interest in getting kids reading and writing – the magazine is crammed full of tricks and techniques to make literacy lessons the highlight of the week.

We’ve been running school events since about 2007 and between us visit around 300 schools a year doing talks and leading writing workshops. We never fail to be amazed by the response we get, particularly from teachers who always ask if they can “borrow” some of the techniques we use to get even reluctant pupils engaged in the writing lesson.

So that got us thinking – how could we share all those little tricks on a wider scale? How could we make it easier for teachers to get their pupils hooked on writing and reading? Start the Story is what we came up with.

It’s a bi-monthly digital magazine with accompanying pupil worksheets which are ready to be printed off and used in class. As well as lots of fun writing exercises, each issue includes a complete lesson plan, homework activities, author interviews, and recommended books for everyone from the most reluctant reader to the most advanced.

We’re also going to be launching some ongoing projects via the magazine – a campaign to get every school producing its own creative writing newsletter, for example – and schools will be able to share their “best practice” via the member’s area of the website.

I’m sure just like Hot Key, we have loads of ideas we want to roll out in the coming months, and the hard part is not blabbing about them all too soon. With literacy levels continuing to plummet, and fewer and fewer children reading for pleasure, we felt that we had to do something to help tackle the problem, so watch this space to discover all the things we’ve come up with.

Well, not THIS space. This space:

Huge thanks to Hot Key for letting us commandeer their blog for this post. If Start the Story sounds up your street, head along to the website to grab issue one right now, absolutely free!



Barry and Tommy



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