BookPenPals was born at the end of May 2018 with a single tweet. Kate Scott realized that as a children’s author, her in-depth reading of children’s books meant she could offer a wide range of reading recommendations. She posted a tweet offering to be a book-recommending pen pal to a school. Within hours, she had six schools signed up and more asking to join in.
Within days, The Bookseller reported on the programme and Sara O’Connor offered to build a website for the initiative. Kate and Sara joined forces and became Co-Founders. Within two months over 120 authors and illustrators and 250 schools were involved. There is no sign of interest abating...
BookPenPals enables lasting connections between the people who create books and the young people they create them for. The programme helps share loved and respected books which may not otherwise be widely known. Every book pen pal is steeped in a knowledge and love of children’s literature; every recommendation stems from authentic enjoyment and respect.
Children’s authors and illustrators are among the best advocates for reading and writing, and regular contact between authors and illustrators and children will generate huge excitement, as well as concrete outcomes of increased creativity, love of reading and exposure to a wider range of children’s books. It also gives children the chance to think about the books they read and make their voices heard.
Since September 2018, hundreds of postcards promoting an enormously varied choice of books have been winging their way across the UK and into the hands of thousands of children. We can't wait to hear what the children and their teachers think of the recommendations!
There are too many schools to pair everyone up with an author or illustrator, so we use the recommendations, pictures and messages that the Book Pen Pals send to their snail mail pen pals to create a beautiful digital postcard for schools that do not have a pair.
The Book Pen Pals record their postcards and give permission for them to be shared digitally and, each month, the system chooses various postcards to be sent to various schools with details about the Book Pen Pal, like their biography and website. Postcards will continue to be in the pool for digital distribution for one year.
Once we have amassed a suitable number of digital postcards in the system, we will begin to sign up schools as digital-only pen pals. Schools that haven't had a snail mail Book Pen Pal before will have a better chance of getting one during the next school year sign up.
Kate Scott has written over 30 children’s books (trade fiction, educational fiction and non-fiction) and over 40 children’s television scripts. She is also a script editor; a published/broadcast poet; and a playwright.
Her latest children’s book, Giant, was shortlisted and longlisted for four regional awards and reviewed by Frank Cottrell-Boyce as being ‘fresh and funny . . . a book that celebrates friendship and the power of being true to yourself’. Just Jack published in April 2018 and has since been shortlisted in the Quality Fiction category of the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards.
Kate’s stage plays have been performed in the Salisbury Fringe Festival, the Pleasance Theatre, London, and at the Salisbury Playhouse Studio. Her radio plays have been long- and shortlisted for several prizes, including the Nick Darke Award; her most recent radio play is in development with BBC Radio 4. She is currently writer-in-residence at the Lyric Theatre, Bridport. She is an experienced speaker and runner of workshops for both children and adults.
Sara O'Connor worked in children’s publishing for 13 years and is now a full-time web developer.
She started at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in New York, spent six years creating IP for Working Partners and worked as Senior Editorial Manager at Hodder Children’s Books. Sara was part of the launch team for Hot Key Books as Digital and Editorial Director, creating its hugely successful digital strategy.
She co-founded the author-career-launching Undiscovered Voices project with Sara Grant, co-founded the reputable Book Bound writing retreat and was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2014.
Frustrated with the cost and creative limitations of outsourcing good digital ideas, she decided to retrain as a programmer. She now works at Consonance, helping to build the publishing software she wished she had when she worked in publishing.
Huge thanks to:
BookPenPals is about connecting people, but we will never share your details with anyone without your agreement.
Your contact information will only be shared with your pairing. Information like names, author/illustrator biographies and school description will only be shared with people verified on the platform, for the purposes of pairing.
At the moment, all pairings have been made over Twitter, with participants exchanging details with each other. Soon, pairing will take place on this platform, where participants will be in charge of exactly what information they share with pairs. We will strictly uphold these information preferences.
We will only send you communications in line with your communication preferences. You can find and edit these on your profile page.
Data is stored in a robustly secure database, hosted by Salesforce. You can read more about it: https://www.heroku.com/policy/security.
You can request the removal of all your information at any time by emailing email@example.com.
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