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improving literacy through storytelling

83% of pupils from local primary school Bannerman Road are from families for whom English is an additional language. Often parents struggle with the language themselves, therefore these classes would provide valuable out-of-school help for the development of their childrens' English.

Bristol Story Lab provides a series of free story-writing workshops, that develop children’s interest in writing, and improve their language skills and confidence.The educational model currently being used has shown to improve English language and literacy in similar projects running out of London and San Francisco. 

Stage 1: Six creative workshops  are run with local primary schools where children aged 8-11 re-imagine the life story of a local figure. This fires their imaginations, helps them connect with the local community and records part of the area’s social history.

Stage 2: The group produces an illustrated book combining the local figure’s real story and the children’s imagined re-telling.

Stage 3:  The children involved are given the book to keep and also copies are sold to help fund further workshops (including a series which Bristol Libraries have asked to run as part of the nationwide Summer Reading Challenge). 

To monitor the project's impact, teachers and pupils involved were asked to complete evaluation questionnaires, to measure the workshops’ effectiveness.



Workshops will be used as a pilot project to enable capital funding (from Heritage Lottery or similar), for a permanent creative writing centre.

Stories created in our workshops will be professionally illustrated and published in books. Copies will be given back to the children involved in their creation, with the remainder sold to fund further workshops. 

There will developing a line of science-themed gifts, which will be sold under “The Inventive Inventors’ Inventory” brand. These include “Thinking Caps” (branded baseball caps) and “Fresh Thinking Mints”, a prototype of which was demonstrated at an previous RSA South West Catalyst event. These will be high-quality products suitable for sale at Waterstones and Debenhams. In London, the sale of branded products generates enough revenue to pay the rent for their writing centre.

This model has been successfully established in San Francisco as 826 Valencia, and in London as the Ministry of Stories.


Visit Bristol Story Lab's website