What is ‘Feral Youth’?
Feral Youth is the story of a disenfranchised 15-year-old girl caught between two worlds amid the frustrations that led to the summer riots.
Written in the compelling dialect of Alesha, the teenage protagonist, Feral Youth has been described as a latter-day Of Mice And Men and ‘a shocking account of generation recession’ (Independent on Sunday).
Tackling serious subjects such as racism, betrayal, the rich-poor divide and decisions facing young people on the fringes of society, Feral Youth is the product of months of working and workshopping with young people, teachers, charity workers and social workers.
The movie-style YouTube trailer gives a good 90-second overview and has proved useful in engaging students.
How can education units get involved?
The following are options are all available in schools, PRUs and charities:
Assembly / class / group talks (age 13+)
15 – 60-minute talk on the story behind Feral Youth and the research underpinning it and/or the process of writing a book and/or Polly’s unusual publishing journey
Feral Youth themes workshop (14+)
90-minute workshop on the (age applicable) themes in Feral Youth, ranging from friendship to community policing to media ethics and incorporating book trailer, discussion & role-play (ideally allowing students to read the book in advance)
Feral Youth creative writing workshop (13+)
90-minute workshop on phonetic writing, storytelling and ‘real life’ fiction, incorporating book trailer, discussion, brainstorming, dialect work, creative writing exercises & simple dramatisation (no need for students to read the book in advance)
Feral Youth literacy programme (‘at risk’ & excluded pupils)
10 weekly 60-minute sessions that use audiobook and paperback in conjunction to read and review Feral Youth
‘Write Your Story’ programme (‘at risk’ youngsters)
12 weekly 90-minute one-on-one sessions that enable a young person to write and publish his/her own life story
What do students get out of it?
The talks and workshops are designed to engage young people from all backgrounds, with Alesha’s story providing a way into books for those previously isolated from mainstream fiction. In addition, the themes overlap with many PSHE and Citizenship curriculum subjects.
Feral Youth opens up many issues facing young people today, including:
- Stereotyping, racism & diversity
- Friendship, betrayal, peer pressure & gangs
- Drugs, materialism & money
- Society & social exclusion, community & media
- Consent, rape & sexual exploitation
- Life choices & consequences of actions
Feral Youth lends itself to discussion and follow-up work relating to its:
- Authentic phonetic writing that speaks directly to the reader through a compelling teenage voice
- Real, current themes ranging from gang culture to politics, tackled in a way that is not patronising or over-simplified
- Unapologetically complex characters, developed through thorough research and observation
How much does it cost?
Polly would rather have copies of Feral Youth in the hands of young people than money in her pocket. Fees can be as low as expenses + copies of Feral Youth (paperback or audiobook) for the school library or for students.
“The students really related to the themes and style of Feral Youth and got a lot out of Polly’s visit.” – Isleworth PRU
“Meeting Polly was great. I listened to the audio over a weekend and enjoyed every minute.” – Naasaa, 12, London
“Polly’s engaging and passionate nature had a huge impact on the girls, which resulted in enriched discussions about the issues affecting young women” – Lewisham Young Mayor’s Girl Talk
“Polly really engaged the students and gave them a lot to think about.” – Westwood Girls’ College, Croydon
“Feral Youth is on my top 10 list. It is an easy read, however the stories are real and it is evident that Polly did her research. I have read it twice.” – Jennifer, 15, south London
“I really enjoyed seeing the world through Alesha’s eyes! It shows us not to judge people for their mistakes.” – Saffron, 15, Lewisham
“I read the first page and instantly know I was not going to put it down. Polly has really done her research on the lives of many not-so-fortunate youths and not just how they live but how they think and the reasons why they do things which to others may seem pointless, stupid, unfair, rude, intimidating, illegal and many other words we sometimes use to judge.” – Kloud9Reacher, 18
Get in touch
If you think there’s a way we can work together, or if you would like a free trial copy of Feral Youth, please do get in touch.