Thursday, 18 November 2010

Ministry of Stories

In 2002. the writer that is demi-god Dave Eggers (who would despise me for calling him that, but he is, so nur) started a children's creative writing space in San Francisco. It was named after its location, 826 Valencia. Over the past 8 years, its success has led to 'franchise' projects in cities all over the states, each with its own themed shop - The San Fran branch has a Pirate shop, the Brooklyn branch a Superhero store, the Seattle set-up a Space Travel Suppy Company etc. Famous and not-so-famous authors hold writing workshops at the Centres, teachers offer one-to-one tuition, field trips and school trips are organised...

Last year, Roddy Doyle, inspired by Eggers' success, set up his own Fighting Words project in Ireland, and I am utterly delighted to read in The Guardian today that Nick Hornby is now fronting the first English equivalent, to be called, in a nod, one presumes, to Harry Potter rather than post-war Britain's penchant for creating Ministries for Everything, the Ministry of Stories. (The name concerns me slightly, as I can't help feeling that older children will be put off by something so obviously childish - where an 18 year old might feel fine saying they were off to 826 Valencia, will they really be so happy to say they're visiting the Ministry of Stories? A minor point perhaps, but not irrelevant.)

Anyway, as an English teacher, I could not be more excited about this. I have prayed for years that the 826 projects would extend as far as Britain, and now, my wish has come true. It only remains for a branch to open in the North of England, and my non-working hours will be filled.

1 comment:

Vintage Reading said...

It is an excellent idea. Love Nick Hornby. I'm not sure about he title though, too Harry Potterish, likewise the website.