A ground-breaking book of stories and poems by children and students from across Derby has been made available in electronic form on the Derby Book Festival website.

The title of the book, ‘Small City Big Heart’, is a sentiment expressed by one of the writers.  The book is an anthology of 29 short stories written by Derby College Lexis students (16 to 18 year olds who have only recently arrived in the UK and are learning English for the first time), 15 poems from a group of Year 7s at Bemrose School, and three songs from pupils at Pear Tree Junior School.

The students’ work is all focused on their experiences of arriving and living in Derby, and their thoughts and feelings about the City. Whether it is a poem about Normanton Road, a song entitled ‘Nothing ever Happens in Derby’ or a story about seeing snow for the first time in Derby’s streets, it will give long term Derby residents pause for thought as they see their city through new eyes. As another Lexis writer says: “Derby was so different from what I expected it to be: the silence, the respect that people have for each other, everybody being so polite made me feel at home and safe.”

The electronic version of the book is accompanied by 20 videos of the Lexis students reading their own stories. These are by turn poignant and fun – and occasionally harrowing as they talk about their journeys to the UK.

The new website pages also include an overview of the other work done by the Festival’s Community Programme in and around Derby. This includes their Shared Reading initiative where Festival volunteers regularly go into care homes, hospitals and prisons to read with residents, an activity proven to help health and well-being.

The new Derby Book Festival Community Programme pages and the electronic version of ‘Small City Big Heart’ can be accessed on the Derby Book Festival website.