Top Picks for Schools: Tongue Fu, Nature Poetry and Crime Novels

This resource is great for:
Finding inspiration for being creative with words, both spoken and written, in the Edinburgh International Book Festival Schools Programme.

A series of interactive activity ideas for all ages and levels inspired by authors in the Baillie Gifford Schools Programme, ideal for before or after your visit.


We’ve gathered together some of our top picks from the Baillie Gifford Schools Programme and created this resource to get pupils warmed-up with the suggested activities at school or to enjoy after your visit. We don’t want you to miss out on the fun, so here are some of the unmissable events which you can still book now (if you get in quick!).


Part one – Tongue twisters: Get brave with spoken word

‘At Tongue Fu we aim to push ideas together that might not otherwise have met.  It’s not always comfortable, but it’s always compelling’

Spoken word poetry is becoming more popular every day, and can cover any topic that’s important to you. Have you tried spoken word in your classroom yet? Do you have a list of ideas or plans you are passionate about and would like to share with others?

Get together in small groups and nominate a keen speaker who will present your manifestos, poems or statements.

Join the crowds at Tongue Fu’s event at Edinburgh International Book Festival on the 21 August to learn from the spoken word experts.

Part two – Nature poems performed

Joseph Coelho not only writes unforgettable verses about the natural world around us but knows how to bring them to life.

‘When you’ve got a classroom of little bodies in front of you, all with the capacity to scream, play-up and run about, you soon learn what is going to keep them engaged and entertained.’

Join Joseph in Charlotte Square Gardens on the morning of 22 August with your own nature poem in your pocket. After the event you can share your green rhymed creations while picnicking on the grass, or be inspired to pick up a pen.

Part three – Differing perspectives

Come along to meet Doug Johnstone, an Edinburgh local who knows how to capture imaginations of the young minds. His latest book Breakers (perfect for 16–17 year olds) was described as ‘tough, gritty and effective ride into the dark side of Edinburgh’.

Think about where you come from, and those parts of your city or town which have a reputation of being unsafe, difficult or notorious. Try to write about them, describing the atmosphere, the people and an imaginary scenario for a crime scene… How will you create an effective spooky setting?

Further information:

Baillie Gifford Schools Programme 2019:

How to book:

Poems by Joseph Coelho:

Ideas by Tongue Fu:

Writing by Doug Johnstone: