From its inception the aim of Derby Book Festival has been to work across the city to engage with as many communities as possible and inspire a love of books and reading. To fulfil this challenge they run two key programmes: Shared Writing and Shared Reading.
Shared Writing was launched in 2016 to work with young people from different communities many of whom have only recently arrived in the country.
Over 20 per cent of Derby’s population were either born, or have a heritage, outside the UK and many speak English as a second language.
The festival team want to encourage these students to engage with books and reading by writing their own stories and publishing as many of them as possible.
So far eight books have been created with writing by 233 students from Derby College and Derby schools. Along with the stories they have also published illustrations or photography by 116 art students.
My Journey to English, with work by 19 Derby College students on the young English learners course who have only been in the country for a year or two at the time, was the first book published alongside Recipes from Home by adult learners from the College’s English for Speakers of other Languages course.
In 2017 they published a second book, Stories from Home, Journeys of Hope and in 2018 the book Small City, Big Heart.
Last year three books were published – Our Past, Present and Future, Writing Together, and Broomfield, a photographic celebration of the Derby College Broomfield Hall ‘land-based’ campus.
The book explores who the Broomfield students are and what they do, whether they are studying agriculture, sport, animal care, equine studies, horticulture, arboriculture or public services. The photographs were taken by a group of Derby College art students.
The work experience project inspired the students so much that they are now determined to complete the course and even follow it up with university studies. It opened their eyes to what they could do with their photography skills in the future.
“It taught me how it was in the real world. I quite liked the excitement of how real it was. I am seeing photography in a new light,” said one of the students.
This year’s book festival programme will include the production of an anthology of writing by secondary school pupils, Derby College students and, for the first time, University of Derby students and other projects yet to be announced. Go to derbybookfestival.co.uk for details.