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Launch Smithdon’s literary festival

Smithdon High - part of West Norfolk Academies Trust - has launched an annual literary festival to celebrate World Book Day and help inspire a love of reading and writing in students.

The Hunstanton secondary school held a week of activities for all year groups, including visits by authors, and writing competitions. And of course World Book Day was celebrated - with teachers dressing up as various literary characters. 

The festival was inspired by Smithdon’s pride in reading culture and it is planned to be held every year. The highlights this year included a visit by author Hayley Long, who writes teen fiction and has been shortlisted twice for a Costa Book Award. 

She was the guest today and held sessions with Year 8 students.

Children’s author Chris Priestley, who wrote the popular Tales of Terror series and the award-winning Mister Creecher, also held a series of sessions for Year 7 students.

Dr Clare Wilkinson from Cambridge University closed the festival by holding fun poetry sessions with Year 9 and Year 10 students.

The literary festival saw the launch of the Carnegie Shadowing Award for Year 8 and 9 students. Smithdon’s Shadowers will read and review Carnegie's six shortlisted books over the course of three months.  

They'll meet regularly to discuss and reflect on the texts, as well as engage with videos from the authors of the texts and participate in competitions. 

At the end of the Shadowing Award, students will have a deeper appreciation for a range of literature and receive a certificate. 

Mrs Wright, head of English, said: “We are proud of reading culture at Smithdon, and we always celebrate World Book Day. 

“This year we decided to go big, taking advantage of being able to bring guests in to share and discuss the written word.  

“We intend to run a Literary Festival every year, to coincide with World Book Day. 

“This will include: workshops with journalists, authors, academics; participation in the Carnegie Shadowing award; and writing competitions.”

She added: “We want to inspire a love of literacy in our students.  We want students to feel empowered when they pick up a book or a pen - they are the content creators. 

“We are creating in school opportunities for all Key Stage 3 students to work alongside published authors and to participate in workshops.  

These opportunities will help students to see the significance of English in the wider world.”

Photo by - Ian Burt Photography