Author Dan Smith who penned Hollywood blockbuster Big Game starring Samuel L. Jackson opens school’s new library

Children were left captivated after a visit from award winning author Dan Smith who was visiting Hebburn Comprehensive School to sign copies of his books and officially open the school’s new library.

Dan hails from the North East and began his childhood in Washington before later moving to Durham.

During the first part of his working life Dan had a wide array of jobs including dish washing, detecting social security fraud and making giant Christmas decorations, before eventually having his first book published ten years ago.

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Since then he has penned an array of popular books including the Crooked Oak Mysteries trilogy and Big Game, which was converted into a movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Author Dan Smith alongside Hebburn Comprehensive School's pupils and librarian, Liam Owens, at the official opening of the school's new library.

After opening the school’s new library, children had the chance to read copies of some of Dan’s books as well as questioning him about his career as an author.

Dan said: “I visit quite a lot of schools and believe they should all have a library. It’s great to see so many books in this library as for children to develop a love of reading you need to give them choice.

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"It’s also important that children develop an enjoyment of reading and don’t just see books as a means of study. If me being here today inspires just one person then that would be a lovely thought.”

After the isolation of Covid lockdowns and impact on mental health, Dan believes the importance of reading has never been more apparent.

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Year 7 pupil, Bethany Gilligan, 12, enjoying one of Dan's books.

He added: “Books are great for mental health. They are a great form of escapism. Your imagination can take you anywhere in a book.”

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Dan’s visit certainly seemed to capture the imagination of children at the school, many of whom queued to get their own copies of his books signed.

Year 7 pupil, Caua Silver, 12, said: “I’ve read the first Crooked Oak mystery book and it was really exciting to meet Dan. I like to read books and I would also maybe like to be an author one day.”

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Bethany Gilligan, 12, added: “I got a signed copy of the book Nisha’s War. It’s a book which is set in the past which is something I like. It’s really inspirational to meet Dan today. I like to write and would like to be an author when I’m older.

Author Dan Smith signing copies of his books for pupils.
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"It’s also really exciting to have a library at the school. It gives us access to books and is also a calm place to come and read at the end of the day.”

The school decided to create the library to “make use of an unused space” in the belief it would also help to create a love of reading at the school.

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While the library first opened it’s doors at the end of November, the school have had to wait to unveil its official opening due to the ongoing impact of Covid restrictions.

Librarian Liam Owens, who organised the event, said: “Today has been so exciting for the children to meet a real author. For most, it will be the first time – they normally just see a name at the top of a book.

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Award winning author Dan Smith with some of the books he has penned over the last decade.

"It also allows them to see that being an author is a viable career. The library has been a massive success and provides a space for the children to enjoy reading.”

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