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Personal Best – growth mindset and literacy

Personal Best is a new book of sports stories for kids set in Guernsey and Alderney written by the well known writer of books linked to football and rugby, Tom Palmer. For more details about his writing and literacy work click here.

On Thursday 16 July we will be holding a launch party and press event for Personal Best at LA Mare de Carteret High School, Guernsey at 9 am.

These stories are the result of careful collaboration between the author and a large number of young people and adults on both Alderney and Guernsey. To kick off the writing process, Tom visited all of Guernsey’s High Schools and St Anne’s School in Alderney. There he met with groups of Year 7s to discuss possible storylines. From these meetings grew the twelve stories.

These are very much Bailiwick stories. Tom talked to many people during his visits to find out about Guernsey stories, customs and folklore. He toured the island looking for suitable settings. He talked to local sports people to get their insights. He absorbed the essence of living on an island. All of these experiences were then distilled in his writing.

But the resulting stories were only the first draft. There was still much work to be done. Local young people then read the stories and contributed additional ideas for the re-draft. New details were added to intensify the Guernsey and Alderney atmosphere of the writing. Fresh ideas were suggested to add realism to the stories that feature less conventional sports. An illustration workshop was held, organised by local artist, Hugh Rose – you can view his website here. Guernsey Sports Commission’s Jeremy Frith read the stories to ensure that they modelled the island’s teaching on Growth Mindset. Jeremy’s website is all about unlocking potential and nurturing a passion for learning and can be viewed here. And finally the text was locally proofread and printed.

I hope schools will use these stories to enhance their focus on both growth mindset and literacy. The stories are exciting and unpredictable as the young people in them come to realise that their successes come from hard work and are not just down to luck. The stories have clear messages but are never preachy nor patronising. They are also carefully written by a very successful author to engage readers in Years 6-8 who may not previously have enjoyed reading. They have been born out of the grass and granite of these islands and maps help you to trace the movement of the plots. Young people could read them on their own, discuss them with others and think about what they tell you about being successful in our island communities and the world at large. They could be used in English lessons, PSHE, tutor time or Citizenship.

The bulk of the print run will be completed during the summer vacation and anyone who is interested in buying sets for their schools can leave me a comment or get in touch via Twitter @stevewillshaw.

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