Students from Malone College were among 200 pupils from across Greater Belfast given the opportunity to explore local literature and delve into the story behind a book by Irish author Nicola Pierce, Spirit of the Titanic, at an event supported and hosted by Belfast Harbour in partnership with BookTrust Northern Ireland.
Malone College, Strathearn School, Hazelwood Integrated College and Abbey Community College students all attended the event at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office, where they met the author to discuss the novel and the stories of Belfast’s most famous ship which inspired it. Pupils also had the chance to get their own copy of the book signed by the author and ask her about her experience as a writer.
Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager at Belfast Harbour, spoke about the importance of developing young readers,
“This is one of many fantastic events we have been able to host alongside BookTrust Northern Ireland and it is always so rewarding to see young people engage in literature and find enjoyment from books. Regular reading helps children of all ages in many aspects of their development and we are committed to helping encourage this as much as possible through our work with local communities and organisations such as BookTrust NI.”
Since Belfast Harbour and BookTrust’s partnership began in 2015, together they have gifted books to 1,300 families with young children as part of ‘Babies Need Books’, as well as giving a custom book to over 1,000 children across Northern Ireland for National BookStart Week, and engaged with 600 post primary school pupils through the ‘Teenage Author Project’.
Liz Canning, Head of BookTrust Northern Ireland said,
“We’re delighted to be working with Belfast Harbour and the award-winning author Nichola Pierce. Encouraging children to read for pleasure by sharing stories helps to make reading fun as well as aiding educational development, social skills and emotional growth. Author events such as these go a long way to inspiring a generation of readers. Following the success of last year’s campaign, we wanted to continue to encourage children from across Belfast to read, write and engage with their creative side while enjoying the benefits that come from literature.”
The event was the culmination of an exciting literacy project developed by BookTrust and the Educational Library Service, and supported by Belfast Harbour, to encourage teenagers to engage with books and develop a reading for pleasure habit.
Nicola Pierce, Author, added,
“I was so excited to meet the students who have been reading my novel ‘Spirit of the Titanic’, thanks to Belfast Harbour and Book Trust. Of course, it is a Belfast story through and through, narrated by the spirit of fifteen-year-old Samuel Scott who worked and died in Harland & Wolff shipyard. It means a great deal to me that I get the opportunity to hear what the students thought of the book and, also, explain to them how I wrote the book.”
BookTrust is the UK’s leading reading charity, specialising in the provision of impactful literacy interventions at crucial stages of a child’s life and enhancing their educational benefits by encouraging reading from an early age.
Tallaght-born Nicola Pierce is a writer, living in Drogheda. Her novel, Spirit of the Titanic, tells the story of the ghost of fifteen-year-old Samuel Scott, who moves restlessly aboard the Titanic as she sails to her doom in 1912.