Alex Wheatle © Kim Gribbon Book Clubs In Schools

Book Clubs in Schools: Alex Wheatle lends support

Book Clubs in Schools

Top author Alex Wheatle lends support

Merton-based charity, Book Clubs in Schools (BCiS) has announced award-winning children’s author Alex Wheatle MBE as its patron.

BCiS works with schools to deliver interactive, inclusive and lively book clubs, creating a pathway for young people to discover the wider world through reading for pleasure and discussion. Research shows that not only does reading for pleasure support improved attainment across the curriculum, it also encourages students’ imagination and empathy and supports their mental health and wellbeing.  

Ali Palmer, co-director of BCiS with Beth Ginsburg, said: We’re thrilled to announce Alex Wheatle as our patron. We look forward to working with Alex because he is a role model and mentor for young people and his participation will give them the confidence to engage with book clubs.” 

The charity emphasises the importance of book club members making connections with what is being read and identifying personal links and relevance.  BCiS features books from a variety of diverse authors which book club members can relate to – a very popular choice is Alex’s Wheatle’s book, Liccle Bit which has also featured in a BCiS Instagram Readalong.

Alex will be working with Book Clubs in Schools, delivering author talks and collaborating on a pilot book club project with Manchester Secondary PRU and Francis Barber, PRU in Tooting and Wandsworth. Year 9 pupils in both pupil referral units will be reading Alex’s book, Kerb-Stain Boys, which focuses on the lives of teenagers and families on the fictional South Crongton estate. 

The story of Alex Wheatle’s early life has recently featured in Steve McQueen’s highly acclaimed Small Axe collection which is available on BBC iPlayer.   Alex has also received fantastic reviews for his new book Cane Warriors, a gripping tale of a slave uprising which follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica, 1760.

Alex Wheatle said: “I am proud to be named as Book Clubs in Schools’ patron. Supporting the charity’s project running book clubs in pupil referral units is a cause close to my heart because I spent some time in a similar facility myself. I understand that some students can find it difficult to engage with reading and think it’s vitally important to publish more diverse fiction that engages and relates to students. I know first-hand that reading can also promote empathy, compassion and understanding of others, which is why the Book Clubs in Schools’ work resonates with me” 

It is this understanding and empathy that is at the heart of BCiS’s approach. “Our book clubs are as much about talking about books as reading them.  This allows book club members to make connections, voice opinions, listen to others and take part in discussions. This helps pupils develop confidence and communication skills. We want pupils to see themselves as ‘readers’ and to have the tools to do well in school, but just as importantly, reading for pleasure provides an escape from everyday concerns and supports young people’s resilience and wellbeing”.

If you would like to support BCiS or start a book club in your school, their contact details can be found at


Main image: Alex Wheatle © Kim Gribbon