Author & illustrator postcard pen pals for schools

How BookPenPals began

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...

the hand of Mike Nichols posting several postcards into a red postbox
courtesy of @writerblighter
photo of BookPenPals packages from Maria Farrer containing poster, letter, bookmark and postcard
courtesy of @HP_Saucerer

What makes BookPenPals special

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!

About the founders

photo of Kate Scott with a blue sky in the background
courtesy of @KateScottWriter

Kate Scott

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

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 as a developer for FreeAgent, financial software for sole traders and small businesses.

photo of Sara O'Connor next to the Dr Seuss book bench when they were placed around London
courtesy of @saramoohead
screen shot of the Make Our Book homepage, with a girl dressed as superwoman holing at book and the strapline 'Turn children into published authors'
courtesy of

Many thanks

Huge thanks to:

  • The team at The Bookseller for all their support
  • Emma Barnes at Make Our Book for the time and technical feedback on this site. Make Our Book is a brilliant initiative letting schools turn children into published authors. Without this support, Kate would be wrestling with spreadsheets until the end of time.
  • The ever-patient Andy Pearson for the technical coaching and support
  • All of the authors, illustrators and teachers who have signed up to the programme so far have been phenomenally generous, enthusiastic and supportive. We really can’t thank you enough – without all of you, this would have remained one lone tweet rather than the seed for something which is growing into something very special indeed. Thank you all.
  • Delphine Jones for her excellent design work on the #BookPenPal logos. More of her work can be seen at her website:

Our policies


BookPenPals is about connecting people, but we will never share your details with anyone without your agreement.

Schools contact information will only be shared within pairings. Information like names, author/illustrator biographies and school description will only be shared with people verified on the platform, for the purposes of pairing. Author and illustrator contact information will not be shared on this platform. Authors and illustrators should contact their schools via email or Twitter to share the contact information of their choice.

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.

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