Alex T. Smith visits Belfast schools to help inspire a love of reading

Published on: 27 April 2018 Author: Catriona Wightman

Claude author Alex T. Smith met with over 250 pupils in Belfast this week as part of the BookTrust NI Author Tour supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Alex T Smith on the Arts Council NI Author Tour

Alex spent time at four primary schools encouraging children to enjoy reading and sharing stories, beginning at Fleming Fulton School in South Belfast.

He went on to visit St Therese of Lisieux Primary School in North Belfast, Castle Gardens Primary School in Newtownards and Dundonald Primary School in Dundonald.

Each child received a copy of Alex's book Mr Penguin - which he signed for them - and enjoyed an hour-long workshop about writing and illustration.

'I had a wonderful time visiting schools in Northern Ireland with BookTrust,' Alex said. 

'In my events I aim to show the kids (and adults) that everyone can draw, everyone can have ideas and write, and that creativity can also have a sense of humour! I introduced them to Claude, and my new character, Mr Penguin, which went down a treat. Thank you so much to BookTrust for organising it all.'

Fleming Fulton's literacy co-ordinator Nichola Nickels described Alex's visit as an 'amazing opportunity' for the school's students, adding: 'They have enjoyed reading the books and finding out about Alex T Smith beforehand and loved meeting him in person.'

Alex T Smith on the Arts Council NI Author Tour

Meanwhile, Liz Canning, head of BookTrust Northern Ireland, said: 'We're delighted Alex was able to spend time with local school children in Belfast, sharing his experiences and wisdom.

'Many of the children were inspired by his talk, they all loved the illustrations and were very engaged, which is exactly what we hope when organising these events.

'The visit was made possible thanks to funding from the Arts Council NI Heritage Lottery Fund. Alex was the last of our authors to visit Northern Ireland as part of our 2017/2018 funding but we hope to continue hosting many more events. He is most certainly a tough act to follow.'

During the BookTrust NI Author Tour, authors and illustrators visit children to encourage a love of reading, with events including readings, story time, live drawing and arts and crafts. The children also receive books signed by the authors taking part.

'Artist visits like this are a fantastic opportunity for children to meet a successful writer and hear a story brought to life in the author's own voice,' said Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

'An event like this is not only great fun for young audiences but hugely valuable, inspiring the imagination, and perhaps even encouraging children to start thinking about developing their own stories. The Arts Council is pleased to support BookTrust NI in promoting the value of reading to young people across Northern Ireland.'

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