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liverpool readathon 2017!

Liverpool! I'd always wanted to visit but never been, until last week, when I got to be an ambassador for Read for Good UK, at Liverpool Readathon, which had 20,000 children taking part. I didn't have a lot of time to sightsee, but I managed a couple sprints around Albert Dock near sunset:

What an amazing place. I need to go back again, see more of its architecture and explore some of its museums.

But what was I doing there? Here's a video that Read for Good shows to schools before they embark on a Readathon fundraiser. It's all about kids helping kids, and that resonates with them. Everyone can imagine what it must be like to spend days, weeks, months, possibly years in bed in hospital, uttery bored, and how much good books might help cheer them up and relieve boredom.

I decided to get stuck in with Read for Good after being approached by so many different charities and thinking that my tiny contributions to each one were taking up huge amounts of time, but not actually making much difference. If I could focus more on one charity that I could get to know well, there might be more chance of making real impact. So I'll keep you posted on how it goes! In Liverpool it started with visiting Breakfast Club at Springwood Heath Primary School.

Besides eating cheesy toast, I got to draw alongside this group of kids who meet in the mornings before school. These photos were tweeted by @crashspringwood: the C.R.A.S.H. club name stands for Cool Readers at Springwood Heath.

They'd already made some lovely drawings in the days before I arrived; here are some beautiful ones!

(I noticed they'd used some of my drawing tutorials; if you or your kids ever want them, I have free printable activities for each of my books, which you can download from my website.)

I drew lots of quick portraits of the kids, which I didn't manage to snap photos of, but here are a few of ones they drew of me!

Some of them even drew my hat!

Here's the school team who hosted me (including the headmaster, Mr Hunt), along with Jenny Holder from Liverpool Learning Partnership (with her partner Martin and their baby) and Partnerships Coordinator Annie Smith from Read for Good (with the orange bag).

And here's our team back in the car, with Martin driving Annie, Jenny and me to the next stop...

...Liverpool Central Library!

With the Liverpool Readathon, while 80% of the money goes to buying books for kids at local Alder Hey Children's Hospital, 20% of the funds kids raise goes into buying books for their own school library. It's so important that kids have books to read right at their fingertips, not only in big central libraries that they might not be able to visit every day. But today was a special day! At least 500 kids came along to this amazing place.

Jenny and Annie managed to whip me around for a quick tour. OH MY.

Here's the huge room where I got to meet the kids, encourage them in their Readathon and try to inspire them with a talk from a real writer-illustrator.

I did two sessions, one for younger children and one for slightly older. For the first, I decided to talk about There's a Shark in the Bath because it's been so popular with libraries. (And it's always fun to draw sharks.) Here are some photos tweeted by St Patrick's Primary School, @stpatsyr3:

From @AbsLiteracy:

From St Clare's Primary School, @stclareslpool:

It was brilliant getting to connect with so many kids, little conversations with some of them, looking at their drawings, even just smiling at each other. It's brilliant hearing about how they're reading; the schools do something during the day called D.E.A.R.: Drop Everything and Read. And kids can read whatever they like, it's about reading for pleasure, and how coming to love books - any kind of books - will set them up for a lifetime of reading.

Here are some of the pugs drawn by the older children, from Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and me:

And it wasn't just the kids who did fab shark in the bath drawings, the teachers got stuck in, too! I love it when teachers take part in drawing; the kids pay so much more attention when they see it's something grownups do, too.

A few more peeks at the amazing building that is Liverpool Central Library. Thanks for hosting us!

The next stop on the Liverpool Readathon tour was St Gregory's, and I was met by my own 'Sarah McIntyre team'! I didn't get any more photos of that visit, but the kids were bubbling over with enthusiasm about reading, and we had a great time together.

I had a great meal with this team at Delifonseca Dockside! From the left: Cultural Education Coordinator at Liverpool Learning Partnership (LLP) Alice Demba, Councillor Lana Orr, Jane Davis (director of The Reader), Read for Good UK Partnerships Coordinator Annie Smith, LLP Reading Coordinator Jenny Holder, and LLP CEO Elaine Rees.

On my second evening, I had time to run around and look at a few more buildings and have dinner with a relative on Bold Street.

I spotted a white grand piano and a huge stuffed polar bear through the windows of this sleek block of flats near Albert Dock:

Argh, Liverpool, I wish I had more time to explore!

But no, Doug the Pug and I were off to the airport. (If you want to download a free knitted pug pattern by @deadlyknitshade, here's the link.)

Goodbye, Liverpool! Thanks so much for taking part in the Liverpool Readathon, you totally rock!

If you work at a school or have kids in school, think about introducing the school to the Read for Good Readathons. You can read about it on their website and they'll send you a well-designed pack with pledge sheets, posters and more to help you run it. Thanks, LLP and Liverpool schools and kids for getting behind this! And big thanks to Annie, Jenny, Alice, freelance publicist Liz Scott and everyone at the schools and libraries who helped coordinate my visit. You can follow Read for Good on Twitter - @ReadforGoodUK - and Liverpool Learning Partnership: @ReadingatLLP.

A short film about what a difference a school sponsored read makes from Read for Good on Vimeo.


Sarah McIntyre

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