Dare to Write? is the result of three years of research, led by Bath Spa University and conducted in schools and libraries, and with authors, teachers, workshop leaders and more, exploring current levels of engagement with creative writing for children and young people. Dare to Write? has its roots in Book Kernel – an approach to ‘living books’ originally developed by StoryHive through the REACT books and print scheme. StoryHive worked with Bath Spa University throughout the research process to embed the principles of Book Kernel into Dare to Write?.
Our focus on the notebook is underpinned by research emerging from Paper Nations and from the expertise of hundreds of experienced writers that has informed our work. The regular use of a notebook can help to build good writing habits, including having fun, exploring on the page, observing the world around you and making time to write. The notebook can also be a private space where young writers take risks without the pressure of assessment.
Our independent evaluator, LKMCo, reported:
‘more people are participating in creative writing more frequently since their involvement with the [Paper Nations] programme’.
The report indicated that the approaches which we have identified encourage young people to write on their own i.e. beyond the context of the classroom and even beyond support from a professional writing tutor. This finding is important to us and has informed the development of our final set of resources as it provides evidence for one of our core goals – enhancing structures of support for writing education so as to encourage young people to start, enjoy and continue writing.
Drawing from this research, Dare to Write? seeks to create a space that gives the ability for writing and language a chance to flourish. Spaces for free expression are vital for creativity in writing, both as a pleasurable activity with intrinsic worth, and as a practical activity with wider cultural and social benefits.