National Teen Book Club

National Teen Book Club

National Teen Book Club

National Teen Book Club is a free UK-wide virtual book club for teenagers launched by Book Clubs in Schools and educational equality charity Speakers for Schools. Schools and individual pupils can register here 

National Teen Book Club aims to make reading and discussing a book more accessible and enjoyable for more young people. Young people will meet weekly to discuss Cane Warriors and also hear from leading authors and creative professionals who will help them explore their own ideas. For our first book club, we are also focusing on how to write creatively. Everyone who writes a piece will be published on the Speakers for Schools website and four lucky entrants will have a mentoring session to discuss their work with Alex Wheatle.

The online book club runs on Wednesday afternoons between 3.30-4.30pm starting on 9 June 2021. Book Clubbers will get the unique opportunity to purchase the e-book of Cane Warriors by award-winning author Alex Wheatle, published by Andersen Press, for a discounted price of £1.99. Cane Warriors has been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize.

The format of the book club is as follows:

  • Young people across the UK will discuss the book in online breakout sessions. This will allow them to meet a mixture of diverse teens with a variety of viewpoints.
  • There’s also the opportunity for young people to meet writers and find out about the creative process and write their own creative writing piece.
  • They will complete activities related to the book’s content both together with other young people in the online weekly events and independently offline.
  • At the end of the five weeks, there will be a graduating finale. This will include a Q&A with Alex Wheatle.

The benefits for young people are:

  • Collaborating with other teens each week to build communication and team working skills.
  • Meeting writers who will talk about how reading has influenced their choice of career. 
  • A certificate from Book Clubs in Schools and Speakers for Schools which can be used for future education and career opportunities.
  • Completing the weekly tasks contributes to the skills element of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Our review of Cane Warriors 

Cane Warriors tells the true story of Tacky’s War against the British slavers in Jamaica in 1760. We follow Moa as he joins the fight and takes part in the uprising on Easter Sunday. Moa and his friend Keverton must kill Misser Donaldson, the overseer. The choice is kill or be killed.  The story follows the fight to free the enslaved people on nearby plantations. This story is told through the eyes of Moa. You feel and share in his disbelief about what he plans to do and understand why his father tries to persuade him not to join the uprising.

The faith and determination to make a change are clear throughout the story. The pace is fast-moving and at times difficult to take in, the brutality of the life of the slaves is evident. It’s a compelling read, and you want to know how the story ends. As ever, Alex Wheatle’s ability to make a world come alive through the voice of his characters is brilliant. There is hope for the future. De blood will remember. 

The cover art is Golden Harvest  (1959) by Althea McNish, which became a best selling fabric design. Inspired by wheatfields in Essex, it reminded her of the sugar cane plantations and is a perfect illustration for the book.

This review first featured in our What to Read Now blog.

Schools or individual pupils can register free for National Teen Book Club here.  Join in the conversation about #NationalTeenBookClub on our social media channels.

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