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National Writing Day launches 24-word challenge

Young people encouraged to share their lockdown experiences.

National Writing Day

First Story, the charity behind National Writing Day, has launched a 24-word story challenge to mark the annual nationwide celebration of the pleasure and power of writing and words. This year it will take place on 24th June. Together with its National Writing Day partners, a coalition of leading literacy organisations and publishers and a host of the nation’s much loved children’s authors including Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, Malorie Blackman and Frank Cottrell Boyce, First Story is challenging everyone – especially young people – to come together to share their experiences.

With a nation in lockdown, and the extreme experiences of the past few months keenly felt, the power of words to give voice to our stories is timely. Many pupils and students are still home-learning; and schools are closed to most of their cohorts.

National Writing Day is leading the charge with a simple writing call to action: a challenge to everyone to write just 24 words, in 7 minutes, starting with the prompt ‘One day…’ and to share their work on social media using the hashtag #247challenge. The challenge involves everyone, and participants can enjoy writing together and take a moment to express themselves.

First Story and its National Writing Day partners including National Literacy Trust, National Poetry Day and Centre for Literacy in Primary Education will be issuing the challenge through teachers, parents and the media with an example template posted to social media and to schools for people to complete the challenge by writing their story onto a piece of paper, taking a photo, then sharing online and nominating three people to take up the challenge too. On National Writing Day itself, the #247challenge will be led by much loved children’s authors including First Story writers Dean Atta, Cecilia Knapp and Francesca Beard and National Writing Day ambassadors Cressida Cowell, Mark Haddon, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Jackie Kay, Laura Dockrill and many more who will be issuing the challenge and sharing their own 24/7 pieces to kick-start the day.

Children’s Laureate and bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell said: “I’m delighted to take part in National Writing Day this year. When we’ve been leading such restricted lives, writing is a way to take ourselves and our readers to new worlds. We’re all innately creative, and National Writing Day is a day for us all to use the power of words and imagination to say something which speaks out to others.”

CEO of First Story, Antonia Byatt said: “We know many schools face very real challenges when they return with their students having lost out on months of face-to-face education. Young people living in the most challenging circumstances will be the worst affected. It’s so important those students are armed with the skills they need for their futures. Writing for pleasure builds the confidence that is the corner stone of life-long learning.”

The best examples of writing using hashtag #247challenge will be showcased in an online exhibition and archived by National Writing Day partner, the British Library, as part of a project to record a snapshot of people’s thoughts and experiences during COVID-19.

For more details on taking part, visit https://firststory.org.uk/writeday/

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