by Mel Taylor-Bessent
Last year, I launched a campaign called the ‘Literacy Revolution’. With a bold title, backing from the entire children’s publishing industry and the aim of changing the way children interacted with books and authors forever, I knew the project would have to be very special if I was truly going to revolutionise the publishing and education industries and make a lasting impact.
Where it all began…
I started working in the publishing industry six years ago when I launched creative writing workshops for children (Little Star Writing) and was the first person to team up with publishers to use books as inspiration, create worksheets around the stories and arrange author events for the schools we worked with. We even ran two LSW Literary Festivals, took children on tours of publishing houses and arranged for children to attend launch parties, write book reviews and give feedback on book covers. The whole idea behind it was to make reading and writing fun, bring readers and writers closer together, and introduce children to a variety of books, authors and writing styles. After winning a few awards, turning every Little Star Writer into a published author, travelling to schools in Europe and expanding to schools all over London and Surrey / Middlesex, the demand for fun, engaging classes, valuable literacy resources and interactive lessons with authors grew exponentially.
The Big Idea…
As a result of receiving emails from schools all over the UK (and even as far as Africa, Europe and Australia), asking to launch our workshops with them, I decided to create an online version of LSW called ‘Authorfy’. Instead of arranging physical author events in schools, I created videos of authors sharing their unique approaches to writing and added them to the platform. With extract readings, creative writing challenges, tips and advice on writing, cross-curricular schemes of work, and videos on the inspirations and ideas behind their stories, Authorfy quickly became the perfect way to inspire children, support teachers and promote children’s authors and books in a way that appeals to the YouTube generation.
The Future of Authorfy…
Already in just two and a half terms, Authorfy is being used in 400 schools / homes around the country and we have an audience of over 10,000 children. With a schedule that already runs into 2019, publishers are vying to secure a coveted Masterclass spot, and we’ll be uploading a new Masterclass every two weeks from June this year. We’ve also just expanded to include authors for KS1 and KS3 (rather than just KS2), and we have some very exciting future plans, including launching the ‘Authorfy Awards’, a potential book club, an author school tour, and much more.
Praise for Authorfy…
‘With exciting videos featuring authors of every genre and a range of brilliantly original teaching resources, Authorfy is set to rekindle a love of reading and writing within a generation of children and I couldn’t be prouder to be an ambassador for such a wonderful and inspiring project.’ – Authorfy Ambassador, Abi Elphinstone
‘Teaching literacy may make people technically literate but goals and tests do not engender a love of reading or writing for pleasure. Learning to read or write in any meaningful way can only come from encouraging a deep, innate and instinctive human hunger for curiosity, play and joy. I believe every school child is entitled to the opportunity to express themselves and develop through their creativity.’ Authorfy Ambassador, Piers Torday
‘Have been using the fab resources on the Authorfy website which have really helped to engage the children in the process of writing.’ – Ms Capewell, Head of English, Terra Nova Prep School, Staffordshire
‘Just signed up to Authorfy and it’s just fabulous! Stuffed full of inspiring authors and well thought-out lessons. It’s a must for every school.’ – Jo Clarke, School Librarian
‘A fantastic resource for teachers!’ – The Week Junior Magazine
‘I’m on the website! How quick & easy was that? So many exciting resources, I don’t know where to start…’ – Miss Cleveland, Cannon Park Primary School, Coventry
‘I used the first Masterclass in our Creative Writing Club, it was amazing! We are part of the army forever! Even though they are KS2 Masterclasses, these girls were in year 9 and they really loved it’. – Mrs Gray, Librarian, The Green School for Girls
‘Mia loves the site, has entered a couple of competitions and watched loads of the author videos. She loves the Guy Bass one! All good practice and such a positive platform. So many children could benefit from this in class!’ – Ms Tyler, parent
‘I signed up to Authorfy about a month ago to help my son become more confident with his writing. It had an instant positive impact. He has gone from hesitantly writing ten lines to knocking out a full page of A4 in less than 28 days, and we are really enjoying it. He is spontaneously writing now and more importantly, is much more confident.’ – Mrs Robinson, parent
This is a guest blog from Mel Taylor-Bessent of Authorfy. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the FCBG.