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Teacher’s pet project

Jody McDonnell (pictured far right), a Sydney-based Teacher Librarian, has been involved in Write a Book in a Day since 2006, she tells us why.


How did hear about Write a Book in a Day?

It was through the Teacher Librarian at my children’s school. She encouraged me to enter some teams at the school where I was teaching at the time.

Would you say you’re hooked?

Well, in over 10 years I’ve had more than 50 teams enter who collectively raised over $15,000 for children’s cancer research – just from this one activity!

What would you say is the best date to run the competition?

I’ve mostly chosen do to it during book week. It’s a great way to link the writers in our school community into a shared writing activity. It’s a great way to put some important focus on Australian children’s authors and illustrators too. It ends up being a really fun, creative and inspiring week.

How do you start to pull a team together?

When I was at Marian Catholic College, we would extend the invitation to the students in our top English classes. We’d ask them to sign up to a team for their year group. Over the years we explored creating girl’s teams, boy’s teams, mixed teams and mixed year teams.

What’s the most rewarding part of the competition?

At Marian Catholic College, we won awards for illustrations and one year the National Book award! But honestly, the best part is attending the presentation at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Why is that?

Just walking through the corridors of the hospital on the way to the presentation is a reminder to our students how lucky they are to be attending school every day and learning. They are reminded that their participation in this initiative gives so much back to the lives of the children with cancer.

What would you say to someone considering running this competition?

I can only suggest to every school out there that this activity is a great chance to motivate young writers to collaborate and create a completed book, which will then be read by the ‘authentic audience’ of children in hospitals around Australia.

Not only does Write a Book in a Day teach teamwork, develop creative problem solving skills, and meet some English curriculum requirements, the value add to the experience is that participants are giving to a cause that is relevant in most people’s lives and in their communities.