Research carried out by the Literacy Trust has found that author visits to schools can do wonders for pupils’ literacy and love of reading.
I am a Literacy Champion for Read On Nottingham, and enjoy any opportunity to encourage passion for reading and writing. I’m available for school visits, festivals and other events all around the world, virtually or in person.
The sessions below are available virtually via Skype, Zoom or any other service. I charge a reduced rate for this, since virtual visits aren’t quite the same as engaging with pupils in person. The virtual visit can be adapted according to your needs, and I also provide a follow-on activity for pupils to have fun with after the session.
Shorter virtual sessions such as Q&As are also available at a reduced rate.
I offer an hour-long Scavengers presentation that includes
- a look at the inspiration behind Scavengers (real-life landfill communities and an abandoned industrial complex, among other things)
- a short reading
- humorous interactive elements, based on the strangeness of things we usually see as mundane
- a Q&A session.
The themes touched upon include waste and recycling; nature and wildlife; rules, curiosity and bravery; and the strangeness of “normal” things. I’m more than happy to talk about the writing process, e.g. during Q&A.
For the presentation, I’ll need facilities to present some Powerpoint slides, along with a microphone or other suitable amplification, if necessary for the venue.
I also offer hour-long Scavengers workshops for which a range of activities are available, including having pupils
- explore and invent collective nouns for animals
- make up names for strange, real-life animals and invent their own creatures
- plan a short story based on the limited language and reference points of Scavengers’ protagonist.
To make the most of workshops, I would recommend that pupils have either seen the Scavengers presentation or read at least a few chapters of the novel. I can provide Word files for activity sheets that can be printed for the workshops.
“The girls were thoroughly engaged with Darren’s presentation, and many have said how much they enjoyed it. Darren struck just the right balance between informing our students and leading them to think for themselves, and I was pleased to see how well they responded to the challenges which he set them. I felt that encouraging young people to consider how different people might have different perceptions of ‘everyday’ items and situations was particularly thought-provoking, and extremely relevant to our academy’s ethos of consideration for others and inclusion for all.”
Elizabeth Pearson, Librarian, Walton Academy, Grantham
“Darren came to work with our group of aspiring young writers as part of the launch of his book, Scavengers. His naturally warm personality immediately put our young writers at ease and they thoroughly enjoyed writing with him. But, best of all, when they read their pieces back to him, he was able to give really positive and useful feedback with a smile – a real gift!”
Sian Tower, Education Manager, Writing East Midlands
“The children thoroughly enjoyed learning about the background to Scavengers, ‘meeting’ the characters and learning what Darren felt was important when writing a book. The short activities he used – describing a word and naming creatures – definitely made them think; they loved this and Darren had them hooked so much so we followed up on the naming-a-creature activity and extending it by creating a habitat, etc. I intend to run the defining-a-word activity too. We all enjoyed the afternoon and had a great deal of fun.”
Penny Appleyard, Teacher, Almondbury Community School, Huddersfield
“Darren’s workshops inspired the children and really got their imaginations fired up!”
Francis Ebling, Teacher, Dovecote Primary School, Cliften
My events are aimed at upper Key Stage 2 pupils (ages 10-11), and are also suitable for Year 7 and Year 8 pupils.
I can arrange for an Usborne Organiser to look after book pre-orders, so that pupils have the opportunity to get their own copies of Scavengers signed and dedicated on the day. Schools may of course prefer to work with other booksellers instead.
I charge fees in line with standard Society of Authors’ rates, and also charge travel/accommodation expenses (I live in the Nottingham). I encourage schools – if they can and wish to do so – to book me in collaboration with other local schools so that they can share costs.
If you’re interested in booking me for an event, please contact me with details of what you have in mind, including the size and age range of the audience.