December 21 2013 Latest news:
Picture: KAREN BETHELL
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Sitting down with a good book probably isn’t top of the average pre-teen boy’s to-do list, but north Norfolk children’s author David Bedford is hoping to change that, in his new roles as a British Council “Active Citizen” and a Premier League Reading Stars author.
Former geneticist Mr Bedford, who recently published his 70th book, has been invited to take part in a scheme aimed at promoting positive social change by recruiting a network of young leaders to work on community projects.
As part of his Active Citizen role, Mr Bedford had to come up with a plan for a social action project (SAP) and devised a programme aimed at engaging nine-12-year-olds with reading.
He has written a book about a football-loving, book-hating gorilla – provisionally titled I Hate Books - and plans to use his years of experience delivering reading and writing workshops in schools to help teachers instil a love of books in pupils.
“As a scientist, it made the problem more real for me when I looked at data from the National Literacy Trust,” Mr Bedford said.
“It clearly showed how the interest in books tails off at the end of primary school - particularly with boys - and how these children struggle in high school, so it felt like a worthwhile thing to do to come up with something that would help change that.”
Mr Bedford’s SAP will see him training school librarians and teachers to deliver reading programmes to pupils.
“I find that, if you delve deeper, boys are reading – whether it is websites or special interest magazines – they just aren’t interested in reading fiction,” Mr Bedford said.
Mr Bedford, whose stories range from picture books for toddlers, to a football-themed series of books for older children, is already part of the Literacy Trust-run Premier League Reading Stars scheme, which targets primary school pupils and high school students struggling to reach targets.
Working with dozens of published authors and top footballers – including Norwich City player Jonathan Howson – the scheme includes a comprehensive reading programme delivered both in schools and online.
Since getting involved in both projects, Mr Bedford, who lives at West Runton, has found his expertise is in demand – he has just returned from a trip to Jordan, where he found himself running workshops in schools at the invitation of an online book company, and, next month, he will be visiting 15 Channel Island primary schools in five days as part of Guernsey Book Week.
However, he has found time to write, with the 9th book in his “The Team” football series just published and three other books about to come out.