Northern Ireland Stories Tour: Malorie Blackman, 19-21 March 2014
Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman OBE, toured Northern Ireland in March as part of her work to promote literacy and inspire a new generation of readers.
Organised by Book Trust NI, with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, this tour saw Malorie host a series of intimate talks and workshops for young people across Derry and Belfast.
Commenting on her visit she said: 'As a lover of poems, graphic novels and all kinds of stories, I'm so thrilled to be taking part in The Northern Ireland Stories Tour. I'm looking forward to sharing my love of books and reading for pleasure with as many children and young adults as possible'
Welcoming her to Northern Ireland, Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 'Malorie Blackman is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational and popular writers of our generation. It has been a pleasure working with Book Trust NI for the first time to bring a writer of this quality to meet with young readers across Northern Ireland. Malorie's books challenge her readers to think, question the society we live in, and perhaps most importantly, introduce them to the joy of books and the marvelous world of creativity and imagination to be found there.'
Malorie hosted a series of talks, working closely with small groups of young people to share her story, promote literacy and access to books, as part of her visit to Northern Ireland. During Wednesday 19 March and Thursday 20 March, she met with young people from the Fighting Words Project at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, year 9 pupils from Hazelwood Integrated College, year 10 groups from Grosvenor High School and Aquinas Grammar at Cregagh Library, and Key Stage 3 pupils from Fleming Fulton.
On Friday 21 March, a joint 'In-Conversation' event between Malorie and Niamh Sharkey, Laureate na nÓg took place in The Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings Stormont, sponsored by Basil McCrea MLA.
The two Laureates discussed their roles as ambassadors for children and children's literature.
The invited audience of post primary pupils, school librarians and representatives from the arts enjoyed the skillful facilitation of the 'conversation' by Marie-Louise Muir of BBC Arts Extra. The enthusiasm of the young people and the fact that they had so many questions to ask Malorie and Niamh, was a testament to the success of the event.
Many books were signed, many photos taken and many memorable conversations took place between the students and Laureates at the end of the morning. Book Trust are proud to have been part of this event and to have worked in partnership with Children's Books Ireland to bring the two Laureates together to discuss the big issues surrounding children's books and reading - from digital publishing to library cuts and the challenges the Laureates face in their mission.