An Post, in association with the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), has launched Scéal Eile, a creative writing competition rooted in primary and secondary school students’ love of books. Now online at www.anpostschoolbag.ie, the An Post Education Awards is in its 35th year promoting literacy and learning for generations of Irish students.
Scéal Eile will see students from all levels revisiting some of their all-time favourite books with the task of creating their own alternative storyline or ending. Students from junior infants right through to sixth year are encouraged to take their favourite stories or beloved characters on a whole new adventure, creating a direction they’ve always wanted to see in their favourite books. This year, students will have the help of two of Ireland’s most inspiring children’s authors – Sarah Webb (author of Blazing A Trail – Irish Women Who Changed the World) and Dave Rudden (author of Knights of the Borrowed Dark).
Sarah Webb took the time to chat with us about all the competition and shared her words of wisdom with the budding writers of Ireland.
She encouraged young readers to be as original as possible when penning their story: “In this competition, you are being asked to put your own stamp on an existing story or book. Try thinking of something really different and unusual. “
There’s no doubt there are thousands of hopeful writers scattered across the Emerald Isle. As a published author, Sarah certainly knows her stuff. She advised those who dream of having their work published one day that being unique and using your own voice is key.
“My writing clubs are full of talented young writers, both girls and boys. Every child or young person has a unique voice and a unique way of writing. I'd encourage them to use that voice to express themselves on paper and create stories, poems, comic books, screenplays - whatever they want to write.”
They say all the best writers are avid readers, however, in the digital age, children will always opt for an iPhone over a book, so how can we encourage our children to read more.
Sarah advised starting when they’re super young so that love of reading is instilled in them from the get-go.
“Children need adults to introduce them to the world of books and the earlier you can do this the better. Read to them when they are babies and toddlers, sing songs to them, tell them stories from your own family or ones you've made up. This way they start to associate books with fun. As they get older, keep reading to them and also fill your house with books from the library - the library is an amazing resource for families and it's free! They don't even charge overdue fines these days!”
Sarah’s book Blazing a Trail is full of inspirational Irish women who changed the world. The author revealed what inspired her to write a book that will inspire generations of young Irish women.
She explained: “Mary Robinson is one of my heroes and when I used to visit schools I always asked the children to put their hands up if they knew who she is. Few of them did sadly. So I decided to do something about that and created a book full of inspirational Irish people.”
Sarah has featured so many empowering women in her book, but there is one she’d just love to write about. “I'd love to write a book about Eileen Gray who was a remarkable designer and architect from Ireland.”
The competition is open to junior and senior level schools nationwide with national and regional prizes to be won for the winning pupils, teachers and principals. Entering is easy – visit www.anpostschoolbag.ie/competition for lesson plans, video and print resources, entry forms and guidelines. Every school to enter will be in with a chance of winning an incredible Writing Workshop with a well-known author. All national winners will be awarded at a ceremony in the GPO in May.
The deadline for all entries is Tuesday, March 19 2019.
For more information on the Scéal Eile competition, please visit www.anpostschoolbag.ie or follow us on social media @PostVox and Facebook An Post.