Year 8 students from three secondary schools in the town will discover more about five books over the summer before returning in September to debate, discuss and present their views before voting for their best read.
The five books selected are Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Wonder by RJ Palacio, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman and Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird.
The winning book will be decided by secret ballot and students will have the chance of talking to the winning author over Skype.
The project is organised by learning resources managers at The Ridgeway School, Isambard School and Nova Hreod. Learning Resources Manager Sarah Day from The Ridgeway said: “The students will be able to cascade their views and experiences within their schools ensuring that the reading for pleasure ethos is further developed.
“There was a sense of anticipation at the end of the launch of the project, the students couldn’t wait to get stuck into the books.”
Ridgeway student Sam Lewis said: “I’m excited to read books I wouldn’t normally read – and that’s not a bad thing.”
Fellow student Eleanor Gascoigne added: “I’m looking forward to reading the books. They are not ones that I would normally choose based on their cover, so I’m ready to be impressed.”
Alison Slaven, LRC Manager from Nova Hreod, believes that encouraging students to take on a reading challenge which involves meeting up with students they don’t know is a leap of faith. “Any misgivings were resoundly swept away at the launch. Students quickly started to get a sense of what the books were about and were keen to read more deeply. Students will be stretched by the range of reading material and will thrive on the competition element of presenting their own opinions on each title.
“I always refer to a lovely quote from Spike Milligan: ‘Reading is like jogging for the brain, kids get your feet up and get reading”. It’s a fabulous rallying call to everyone.”
Intel Corporation (UK) Ltd., which is based in Swindon, is sponsoring the project and has provided funds to purchase the books. Andy Tait from Intel said: “The Gr8 Book Debate is a fantastic initiative that encourages students not only to read books but to also discuss what they learned with peers. Healthy debate and discussion is a key skill that pupils will use later in life and Intel is proud to have been able to support this initiative.”