Schools & Learning

Between the 15 February - 26 March 2021, Paisley Book Festival will feature a series of original videos around its Festival theme of Radical New Futures, created by some of the UK’s most talented children and YA authors. The Festival will encourage schools across Paisley and Renfrewshire to view these videos in their classrooms and at home. It will invite pupils to use the resources accompanying each video and envisage what kind of future they would like to see for themselves and the world at large.

From 15 February for 6 weeks, 8 (FREE to access) videos will be available on this page along with an extract from each author’s latest book that can be downloaded for reading and discussion. Some of the authors have also provided further learning resources to download, which are perfect for home learning.

The Festival team would love to hear what your pupils think about this year’s Paisley Book Festival. Please share your responses on its social media platforms using the hashtags #PBF2021 and #YoungFutures and fill in this quick online survey

Smriti Halls

Age Suggestion: P1-P3

Smriti Halls is an award-winning children’s author who has been publishing picture books since 2012. Her books have been published in more than 30 languages: from Arabic to Afrikaans and from Catalan to Korean. With a cast of characters as varied as mischievous monsters and disgruntled geese, she explores relationship and identity; the personal and the political; how it feels to be in your own skin — and in someone else’s. Her books, often fast-paced and funny or lyrical and tender, are always full of hope and heart and speak to the child in all of us.

Maisie Chan

Age Suggestion: P3-P5

Maisie Chan is a Birmingham-born writer who lives in Glasgow. She grew up in a council house with her adoptive parents, her older adopted brothers, a bunch of foster Chinese kids and loads of pets. Growing up, Maisie had only ever read one British novel featuring Chinese people, so she became a writer to change that. Her books include Stories From Around The World and her debut novel, Danny Chung Does Not Do Math, will be published in June 2021. Last year Maisie was appointed as the 2020 Gavin Wallace Fellow, hosted by Moat Brae National Centre for Children’s Literature.

Victoria Williamson

Age Suggestion: P5-P7

Victoria Williamson is a children’s writer who grew up in Kirkintilloch, North Glasgow, surrounded by hills and books. She started writing adventure stories at an early age, with plots and characters mostly stolen from her favourite novels and TV shows. Victoria worked as a teacher for many years in all sorts of exciting places from Cameroon, Malawi and China to the UK. These days her stories are all her own, and she has published two novels for children, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle and The Boy with the Butterfly Mind, both of which deal with the importance of friendship and finding commonalities with those who appear to be different.

Elle McNicoll

Age Suggestion: P6-S1

Elle McNicoll is a Scottish and Neurodivergent writer, who has worked as a bookseller, bartender, blogger and babysitter—all while writing stories for her own amusement. After completing her dissertation on the lack of representation for Neurodivergent children, she decided to write a book herself. Her first novel, A Kind of Spark, was published in June 2020 by award-winning indie press Knights Of. It stars a heroic 11-year-old who is determined to memorialize the victims of the historic witchcraft trials in her town. It swiftly became Blackwell’s Children’s Book of the Month and The Times and The Sunday Times’ Children’s Book of the Week. Elle’s second novel, Show Us Who You Are, will be published in March 2021. 

Laura Guthrie

Age Suggestion: P7-S2

Laura Guthrie grew up in the rural Scottish Highlands and currently lives in Inverness. Her creative influences include Nessie and the elusive ‘Caiplich Beast’. She is a member of the Dingwall-based Ross-Shire Writers and has produced two of her own plays with her theatre company, Sunrise Theatre. Her poetry and short fiction have been anthologised by several Scottish presses, and in 2020, she published her first novel, Anna, with Cranachan Press. Anna is about a 13-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome who moves back to Scotland to live with her estranged mother after her father dies

Ross Sayers

Age Suggestion: S1-S3

Ross Sayers is originally from Stirling, and has published three YA novels: Marys The Name, Sonny and Me and Daisy on the Outer Line, which received a Scots Language Publication Grant in 2019. Daisy on the Outer Line is about life, death and time travel on the Glasgow subway, as protagonist Daisy tries to make her way back to her own life. Ross reads contemporary and literary fiction and loves it when a writer remembers to include an interesting plot. He heartily endorses not finishing books that bore you. He has also been mistaken for Daniel Radcliffe on more than one occasion (and has only once gone along with it).

Elspeth Wilson

Age Suggestion: S4-S6

Elspeth Wilson is a creative writer and facilitator who works across poetry and prose. She is particularly interested in different ways of looking at nature and how, who we are, impacts on our relationship with the environment. As a disabled writer, she is passionate about making creative writing truly accessible and loves running workshops on ‘nature writing’ and ‘writing and mental health’. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize and in 2020 she was shortlisted for Penguin’s Write Now Scheme. She is currently working on her debut non-fiction book and her first novel.

Martin Stewart

Age Suggestion: S2-S4

Martin Stewart is a children’s and YA author based in Troon, South Ayrshire. Before publication he was an English teacher for seven years and continues to do a lot of work in schools across the UK. Having written his first book on the back of Post-It notes aged eight, it was his time back in the classroom that made him understand the unique joy of writing for younger readers. Martin has published two novels so far, Riverkeep and The Sacrifice Box, which are both chilling tales that also highlight the importance of friendship and being true to yourself. In 2021 his third book, The Wild Huntsboys, will be published.