Children Turn to Crime… Writing!
Whodunnits are cool. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has seen to that. The TV show has transformed the forensic scientist from a nerdy, unheard of job into being the “sexiest profession on the planet,” according to the Guardian’s TV critic Sam Wollaston.
Forensic science is now up there alongside other too-cool-they’re-hot jobs, like fighter pilot, movie star and footballer. “School advisers must be tearing their hair out,” Wollaston wrote, “not because they want to test their own DNA, but at the number of kids announcing they’ve always wanted to get into forensic science.”
This is why Harrogate International Festivals developed Kids, Spies & Private Eyes, a schools project which combines the CSI-world of forensic investigation with creative writing.
The project has proven instrumental in engaging young people with low levels of literacy, reaching over 1000 children in North Yorkshire in the past 3 years with a further 2000 in our sights during 2012-15. The combination of mystery investigation, forensic science and creative writing is particularly successful in engaging reluctant readers, especially boys.
2010 figures from the Department of Education showed 9% of boys aged 11 in England were below level three in reading, meaning that nearly 19,000 boys that year started secondary school with a reading age barely above that of a seven-year-old. Across Yorkshire and Humber the average figure was 11% of boys, with North Yorkshire in the 8-9.9% bracket.
Led by a professional writer and a real life CSI, the young people investigate a crime scene and are challenged to find clues. Once the students have pieced the crime together, they work to write up their findings in the style of a journalist, a PI or a police report under guidance from our crime writers.
Chief Executive Sharon Canavar said: ‘It’s wonderful to be able to create a day that demonstrates how engaging crime and thriller literature is for young people. The workshops allow children and young people to try new ideas and expand their creative writing skills.”