Oxford University has set-up an online book club to encourage children aged 11-14 to read more during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond.
Created as part of OXPLORE, the online learning resource designed to engage secondary school age children with complex educational questions by making them fun and accessible, the book club focuses on a different text and author each month.
The monthly series, is free to access and intended to introduce children to different stories and poems that they might not have come across at school, and encourages critical thinking and debate around each text.
As well as access to texts and audio books, participants can use supporting articles, quizzes, background videos on the writers and even live interviews, to enhance their reading experience.
Since launching in March 2021, the diverse series has proved a hit with bookworms across the country, attracting 3,764 children in five months. Although originally only intended to be available as part of the University’s pandemic response, the series will continue into the next academic year.
The OXPLORE Book Club Live series will close the 2020-21 academic year with a free talk and Q&A from the acclaimed teen author Dan Freedman, author of ‘Unstoppable’ (widely praised by sports stars including Marcus Rashford), and the best-selling ‘Jamie Johnson’ books, on Monday 19 July at 4pm.
‘Unstoppable’ focuses on the pressures of competitive sport, which with the European Cup Championship and forthcoming Olympic Games, takes centre stage this summer.
Companion resources for this month’s big read focus on building resilience, unlocking the secrets of sports psychology and how young people can apply this thinking to their own lives in order to achieve their own goals.
Quote from Sarah Wilkin, Outreach Content Development Coordinator at Oxford University, said: ‘We’ve had a wonderful response from teachers and librarians who are keen to find new ways to show students the pleasure and benefits of reading. For many young people reading has been a particularly powerful tool, enabling escapism and learning about different people, places and perspectives whilst living in a world filled with lockdown restrictions.’
Dan Freedman, author of ‘Unstoppable’ and other best-selling teen fiction, said: ‘I’m so proud that Unstoppable has been selected as the OXPLORE Book Club Summer Read. The story, which covers sibling rivalry, parental pressure and sporting ambition, was inspired by the visits I’ve made to schools around the country over the last decade.
I’m really looking forward to discussing these themes with the University of Oxford and the readers and schools that join us for the live event. Hopefully we can make it a positive and thought-provoking way to round off the academic year.’
The series will return in October 2021 with ‘Scythe’ by Neal Schusterman.