Librarian and teacher Danielle tells us what having a BookTrust Represents author visit from Sue Cheung meant for their pupils
Published on: 19 October 2023
“It was amazing to have a successful adult showing students that life can be tricky, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.”
Danielle Wooley shares the impact that a BookTrust Represents visit had on the students at Tudor Grange Samworth Academy in Leicester – and why it’s so important to offer a diverse range of books in their school library.
Why children need access to a diverse range of stories
“Lots of children that wouldn’t call themselves ‘big readers’ come into the library looking for books by black authors. Some students want these books because they’re interested in finding out more about their history.
“We now have a lot of books by black authors and we’re growing our selection of books from Indian voices as well. It’s important that we have a diverse range of books by different authors. I’m expanding our selection all the time - because children are lining up for these books."
BookTrust Represents: a visit from a successful, relatable author
As part of BookTrust Represents, pupils in the Leicester academy were treated to an inspiring talk from award-winning author, Sue Cheung. Cheung’s novel Chinglish is based on her experiences of growing up in Coventry in the Eighties, where main character, Jo, is excluded and bullied for being Chinese.
Danielle says: “The BookTrust Represents programme of getting underrepresented authors into schools really fits with what our school is doing.
“I was really happy when Sue Cheung spoke to pupils about some of the problems she faced growing up. I think many of our kids will have found what she said relatable. It was amazing to have a successful adult standing in front of the children and showing that life can be tricky but it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful."
Author Sue Cheung and the cover of Chinglish
Getting pupils excited about books
As part of the BookTrust Represents author visit from Sue Cheung, each pupil received their own signed copy of Chinglish.
Danielle says: “Nearly ten children came up to me that day to show me their signed copy of the book – just to point at their name inside and say: ‘Look Miss, this book is signed to me’.
“It was something completely new for them. Even while Sue was still speaking, children were thumbing through the book, looking at the pictures. They were so excited about having a book just for them. They seemed really buoyed by it.
“There is one child who is now reading the book in his reading interventions. He was so happy that he'd been given a book, that he immediately demanded to read the next book."
Why it’s so important to get children reading
Danielle says: “Building a culture of reading is so important for the whole school’s development. Children who can understand and comprehend texts do better in their exams. The more progress in their reading we see, the better grades they get across the board (not just in English).
“I also don’t think the personal and emotional impact reading has gets talked about enough. Kids get a lot from character exploration. Seeing themselves in books can be so beneficial. It helps them work out what’s good and what’s bad in the world. Literature feeds into that and sets them up for being able to cope with life.
“It’s so important to be able to read about different lives and understand them. Reading can unlock different points of view, which is really important for social and emotional development.”