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January 29th, 2016

Primary School Pupils to Illustrate Author’s New Book

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Harrow based Author, Beth Shepherd, has been running a competition with pupils from local schools to illustrate a short story and help schools in Africa.

Beth recently approached Harrow and Watford schools to invite them to participate in an illustration competition she has created. The aim is to help pupils to engage in literacy, to create drawings for all 16 pages of the book and to help send copies of her current books out to schools in Africa.

Pupils from Kenmore Park, Longfield and Elmgrove have all participated and other schools have recently got on board. The competition was launched in October last year and since then Beth, author or Ernie Gonzales: The Determined Dreamer, has gone into schools to read the story to the kids. ‘I was encouraged by the response from the pupils to such a moving story. I believe kids are more sensitive than we realise to this kind of story, and have a natural desire to make a difference in the world,’ says Beth. Winners will see their drawing in the finished printed book and will receive a signed copy.

The illustrations are for The Well of Dreams, a story about a young girl from a village in Africa and the struggles she faces living in poverty. Although the story is fictional, Beth has had many people approach her saying that it reflected their experience of growing up in Africa. Ann, the main character, describes her love of school and learning, something we in privileged countries often take for granted, and how she feels when she is no longer able to go to school and has to work in the fields. ‘The story teaches empathy and compassion, and shows the impact we can have on other people’s lives when us as individuals decide to step out help‘, Beth explains.

The Head of lower school at Edge Grove, Aldenham said, I think this is such a wonderful initiative as the children get the opportunity to have their illustrations published whilst raising money and awareness for a good cause. When I read through the story with the children, there was clear empathy and sheer delight at the happy ending.’

The competition has an entry fee of £1 and Beth will use the money raised to buy copies of her own book at cost price to donate to The Hillsong Africa Foundation, which delivers needs-based projects in slums and impoverished communities. One of the projects they have created, ‘Read Baby Read’, works with schools that have a high need of literacy advancement. ‘Many of the pupils there face extreme socio-economic challenges, including malnutrition, heightened crime, gang prevalence and child-headed households. As a result, the children of these schools often fail to advance in areas of basic education, namely literacy.’ (Read Baby Read project booklet). The project aims is to equip teachers with literacy resources, support them with reading campaigns, assist with teachers training and help parents by facilitating parenting courses and creating a reading culture from early on.

Beth is also hoping to visit the project and help to distribute the books herself and inspire the kids to engage in reading. ‘This has always been a dream of mine since I was little. It’s such an honour to be in a position to use my own books to make a difference I love visiting schools to read to kids.’ Beth not only hopes she can change the lives of children in Africa, but also she hopes her story will give children over here an understanding of how lucky they are and the difference they can make when they choose to help others.

The competition ends 31st Jan and winners will be announced mid to late February. Beth is also currently busy running a Crowdfunding campaign to publish the sequel to her first book. Escape from Paradise is a novel for 7-11 years-olds and will be released in May with publishing company Instant Apostle. If you would like to pre-order a copy and support this you can do so by visiting her website: www.erniegonzales.co.uk

If she is successful with the campaign Beth will send her new book along with the other titles out to the project.

 

 

 

 

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