From education to employment

Hundreds of students take part in latest National Teen Book Club


Social mobility charity Speakers for Schools (@speakrs4schools) and Book Clubs in Schools (@Schoolbookclubs) have teamed up with Andersen Press (@AndersenPress) for the third instalment of The National Teen Book Club and creative writing course for state-school students across the UK.

It follows the successful book clubs earlier in the year, with previous cycles featuring the works of award-winning authors, including Penny Joelson, Alex Wheatle MBE and Patrice Lawrence MBE.

Over 600 teenagers from state schools and colleges took part in this latest Book Club, which kicked off in mid-November and is concluding next week.

The chosen book is Chinglish by Sue Cheung, which won the Diverse Book Award in 2020. It follows the funny and moving “almost true” story of Jo Kwan, a teenager growing up in the 1980s who lives above her parents’ Chinese takeaway and is bullied for being different.

As well as being able to share their thoughts on the novel during live discussions each week, participants joined an exclusive Q&A with the acclaimed author. The club was free and available to those aged 14 to 19, providing the opportunity to discuss a shared book and undertake weekly workshop sessions with literary experts to help them develop their own creative writing, including:

  • Award-winning author Tom Palmer who provided guidance on researching
  • Candice Carty-Williams, the winner of the Book of the Year at the British Book Awards,led a session on structure
  • Award-winning author Eve Ainsworth offered drafting advice
  • Illustrator and Art Director Kate Grove shared insights into illustration
  • The author of the chosen book Sue Cheung answered questions from the book club participants
  • Students also submitted a piece of creative writing, and the top four writers will receive a masterclass session with Sue Cheung on Monday 13th December.
  • All creative writing submissions will be published in the online National Teen Book Club library.

Ellie, aged 14, who has participated in National Teen Book Club, said:

“One thing I love about the National Teen Book Club is the community of book-loving, like-minded teenagers, where we all chat about our favourite books – and discuss our views on the book club’s chosen book.

“I love the opportunities this programme gives: a competition for the short story written at the end; the ability to discuss everything with other teenagers; the great work experience for your CV! Teenagers should join this programme for the experience – it’s so much fun to hear the amazing speakers, hearing their personal stories, and learning so much about different positions in writing, publishing and the arts! As well as this, asking these speakers questions and developing an understanding of different career options is something that has been extremely beneficial to me. This book club, I particularly enjoyed the Q&A with Sue Cheung, and also hearing Tom Palmer talk about the researching process!”

Sue Cheung, Author of Chinglish said:

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when Chinglish was chosen for the National Teen Book Club, because it’s such a fantastic space for young people of all backgrounds to learn and grow – I wish I had this when I was a teen! I’m looking forward to hearing readers’ thoughts and feedback, answering their questions and offering guidance wherever I can.”

Ali Palmer, Director of Book Clubs in Schools said:

“The National Teen Book Club offers a unique chance for young people all over the country to come together to read a book and discuss their ideas. The weekly inspiring talks from authors and key influencers in publishing offer a real insight into careers and opportunities. The partnership with Speakers for Schools has enabled us to create an engaging, far reaching programme that will inspire a reading for pleasure culture in the schools who participate.”

Rosa Friend, Programme Manager atNational Teen Book Club said:

The National Teen Book Club aims to inspire young people, whether that is with their reading or creative writing, and to provide a place to exchange new ideas and socialise while developing new literary skills. I am delighted to work with Book Clubs in Schools who have partnered with us to create this enriching and engaging programme, inspiring young people while aiding their current learning.”

To find out more and to register for the next National Teen Book Club event, go to

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