Highfields School is a co-ed state school in Derbyshire. The school librarian, Diane Brown, used Reading Hack to encourage the existing book club to promote reading more widely within the school.
The Year 9 book club applied for a £250 from the Reading Hack Projects Fund to organise a 'book-themed bake off' competition. The group challenged the rest of the school to bake and decorate cakes based on their favourite books, as a way of reaching out to students who weren't enthusiastic readers. Ten students planned the competition, which was entered by 24 students from across the school. Two sixth form students also got involved, as peer mentors and support for the younger group.
"When I mentioned to the Year 9 book club that Reading Hack had could fund them to encourage other young people to read, their response was immediate. They were sure that by running a bake-off they'd get students involved who didn't usually think about books. They were clearly excited and motivated to make their idea a reality."
Diane worked hard to ensure that the project was youth-led from the start, and gave the students as much freedom as possible.
"I explained to them that the deal was it was up to them to plan, organise and budget for the event, and to pitch their idea to Reading Hack. To guide them in this, I took a step by step approach. I explained what anyone planning an event would have to organise: venue, advertising, etc. They did pretty much everything themselves, and reported each step they took to me, so I could keep an eye and make sure all was going according to schedule. I also got two members of sixth form book club on board to help the younger students, especially when it came to putting their ideas into a time frame."
The group worked with staff in the school and local organisations to ensure that a classroom and prizes were available, then shared information about the competition using the school network. They enlisted teachers to act as judges, and took photos throughout the process to share on social media.
Diane found that the biggest challenge was ensuring that the competition was planned and launched in the tight time frame available, as the schools food tech classrooms were only available for a short space of time. There was also the concern that the competition wouldn't attract the same level of interest without funding available for prizes in the future. Diane also got in touch with other parties involved in the project to let them know what the young people were planning.
"I did give the heads up to the staff in the food tech rooms that the students would be approaching them, and also the staff at our local bookshop."
The competition might run again next year, but there aren't any plans in place at the moment. Highfields School is still using Reading Hack ideas to engage young people though, and will hopefully look for other ways to run the competition, such as approaching local businesses for sponsorship.
Diane says: "The whole event was welcomed by the school, enjoyed by the organisers, participants and judges and also enjoyed by a wider audience within school. It was definitely a success all round."
Students from the book club said:
"We had been taking turns bringing home-bakes to book club. This inspired our idea - a book themed bake-off! We decided to have five categories: star-bake, book club star-bake, most tasty cake, most creative cake and cake with best link to a book. Each entry had to be linked to a book in some way."
"It was fun and cool, tasty and book-ish... we really recommend this idea to other schools to do it as well."
Find out more about Reading Hack
Download resources to run Reading Hack at your organisation