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E.R. Murray talks to SCOOP: A Creative Magazine For Kids!

Article by writingie © 17 November 2016 .
Posted in the Magazine ( · Children & Young Adult ).

Recently, I stumbled upon a new magazine for young creative people called SCOOP. Impressed by the quality of the magazine and its content, I decided to learn more. Here’s what I discovered… 

SCOOP summed up in a sentence: A kaleidoscope of creative genius for kids  – in printed magazine form! Their introduction explains that SCOOP has been nearly two years in the making, so it must have been a true labour of love. But where did the initial spark come from and what was involved in making it happen?

Scoop’s founder and publisher, Clementine Macmillan-Scott, initially came up with the idea while researching a book for her mother, the social historian Juliet Nicolson, and discovered The Children’s Newspaper. Struck by the way this hugely popular publication never spoke down to its readers, and by its diverse content, Clementine wondered if something like this existed today. After researching contemporary children’s magazines, and talking to hundreds of children, teachers, parents, literacy leaders, authors and illustrators, it became clear that there was a definite gap in the market for a regular child-focussed print publication that celebrated all forms of story-telling. After months of planning and fundraising, Clementine assembled a small team and formed Curious Publishing Ltd as a platform through which to publish Scoop, which launched this September.

ERM: It’s apparent that the research was thorough from the first page – and that’s not easy to achieve. Tell us a bit about the team behind the project. 

“Clementine is Scoop’s Founder and Publisher. She was previously Coordinator of the Galle Literary Festival and the Galle Children’s Festival and has worked in books all her life, except for a brief stint as a costume designer. Our Editor-in-Chief is Sarah Odedina. Formerly Editor-in-Chief for Bloomsbury Children’s Books, where she oversaw Harry Potter, Sarah launched Hot Key Books and is now also Editor-at-Large for Pushkin Press. And Joanne Owen is our Marketing and Publicity Director. Joanne is a writer and reviewer who’s previously held key marketing roles at Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Walker and Nosy Crow.”

ERM: It’s an A-List team! No wonder the journal is beautifully produced and of extremely high quality, from the paper to the content and illustrations. What was the thinking behind this, rather than producing a cheaper glossy-style product? And what kind of response have you received so far?

“While much is said about the shift to digital mediums, the print market for children continues to grow, and nothing beats the magic of holding and collecting a gorgeously designed object, especially one you receive in the post every month! Also, since we’re committed to publishing the very best content for children by the very best writers and illustrators, our production values also had to be top-notch.”

ERM: Science, storytelling, poetry, history, comics, reviews, artist portraits, short stories, quizzes, art – the first issue of SCOOP is jam packed with all kinds of information and creative activities. And yet, I feel like it all comes down to story in one form or another – how do you select the content, and how do you see it developing?

“That’s exactly it – Scoop is dedicated to celebrating all forms of story, hence our Dig in The Story motto. We want to offer readers as many ways into stories as possible, so we’re committed to publishing a diverse range of writing, from short stories and graphic fiction, to non-fiction features on everything from art, to poetry to history to sport.

In terms of how our content might develop, another big part of the Scoop ethos is involving our readers. For example, we run regular creative competitions, we invite readers to write reviews, and we’re also looking to hold focus groups in schools.”

ERM: You have featured incredible role models including Neil Gaiman, John Agard, Laura Dockrill, Abe Odedina – how do you get contributors on board and what’s it like working with some of the best creative minds?

“Sarah has commissioned and worked with some of the world’s most renowned writers and illustrators throughout her career, and we’re honoured that so many amazing talents are keen to contribute.”

ERM: I love that the aim of SCOOP is to create something readers will enjoy – NOT parents or teachers – and that you state this explicitly in the introduction. How important do you think this is to future generations of readers and storytellers and what impact do you hope it will have?

“We think having a sense of ownership is really important – this is a magazine for children, and is in part created by children. As for the impact, it’s our hope that covering so many different kinds of writing will lead readers to discover new ways into loving reading, and will also broaden their interests. Scoop is a magazine about taking part and being inspired – we want readers to use our on-the-page content as a springboard to do things off the page.

We hope our competitions and features about, for example, writing, craft, sport and art will encourage readers to get creative and active, whether it be through writing their own stories, drawing a portrait, taking up a new sport, or going to see an exhibition. We’re also creating a young editorial board which will meet early in January and, after that, every couple of months with regular contact in between so we can hear exactly what our readers think of the content and incorporate as many of their suggestions as we can.”

ERM: Even though SCOOP is aimed at the reader, this is a valuable resource for schools and libraries, which would, in turn, provide access for more readers – what kind of reaction have you had from schools and libraries and how do you see this developing?

“The response from teachers and librarians has been wonderful and we’re developing strong relationships with both. Our content can be used to inspire discussion and conversation in the classroom and at home. Young readers can get stuck into our puzzles and quizzes together, and teachers can use our creative writing competitions and tips, and our art and craft features to inspire classroom projects. We’re also creating teachers’ resource material for our growing school subscribers. This will be available in the New Year.”

ERM: What advice would you give to parents who are finding it difficult to encourage their child to read? 

“The most important thing is to open young people’s eyes to the fact that reading is a pleasurable activity, rather than something to be got out of the way! Reading is a gateway into other worlds, other lives, other universes, and finding the right book for each individual is key in fostering this realisation. Don’t force it. Rather, have patience in finding the book that will spark a love of reading, because tastes in books and stories are as personal and distinct as individuals themselves. And remember to consider non-fiction, graphic fiction, comic books and short stories as well as novels.

If you don’t know where to start looking, librarians are an incredible source of information, and www.lovereading4kids.co.uk is a fabulous site for finding books by topic, genre and age. We ourselves try to review as many different kinds of books as possible and publish as many different kinds of voices, so we see Scoop as a means of inspiring children to read. There is something magical about it arriving through the letterbox every month with their own name on it, which is an important thing for children – to feel they are not being patronised, but paid attention to.”

ERM: What can we expect from future issues of SCOOP and how can people offer their support?

“We have just published our second issue, which features original short stories by Lucy Coats and Chris Priestley, an article on which objects mean the most to Jacqueline Wilson, Herbie Brennan’s regular “Just Plain Weird” exploration of the unexplained, and much more besides! We also have a bit of a US theme running through it, with an article on Native American headdresses and a fun “Which US state should you live in?” quiz. Coming up in issues three and four, we’re extremely excited to count Joanna Lumley, Emerald Fennell and Piers Torday among our contributors, and we can’t wait for readers to see our Zombie Apocalypse graphic fiction, and to get stuck into our craft and cookery projects.

As for offering support (thank you!), anything your readers can do to spread the word about Scoop would be fabulous. And then subscribe – we make a great gift that lasts ALL year! You can sign-up to our newsletters on our website www.scoopthemag.co.uk, follow us on Twitter (@scoop_the_mag) and Instagram (@scoopmag), and you’ll find all our subscription details here.”

ERM: Anything else you’d like to add?

Huge thanks to Elizabeth for inviting us to do this interview, and the best of luck to all writing.ie authors with their writing journeys.

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