Alison Hawes

Secondary Resources
Reluctant Readers
Primary Resources
Home
Billy Badger's Book Club
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Alison is a fulltime freelance writer. She has been writing books for schools and libraries since 1998. She writes fiction and non fiction for children aged four to fourteen and has written over 300 titles to date.

She has had books published by most major UK educational publishers as well as by smaller, more specialist publishers. Her books are sold world wide and some have been translated into French, Chinese and Swedish.

Previously, she has been an infant teacher, a classroom assistant, a playgroup helper, a respite carer and a literacy tutor for teenagers.

She grew up by the sea in Cornwall but now lives between the Downs and the sea in Sussex. When she has the time, she loves to go travelling to faraway places with her husband.

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Q&A with Alison Hawes


What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?

When I was working as a literacy tutor at a secondary school, I realised there was a lack of books for reluctant readers that they really wanted to read. So when I was asked to write some myself, I leapt at the chance.

 

What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?

Struggling readers may find it hard to keep their place on a page. They may lose track of a storyline as they may have to keep stopping to work out unknown words. Or they may find it hard to navigate their way round a non-fiction book. They may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of words in a book and be put off even trying to read it. The way in which books for reluctant readers are written and set out tries to address these challenges.

 

What is your favourite type of character to create?

I like to write stories about young people who live in the real world (I don’t often write fantasy). I like my characters to be slightly flawed in some way but ultimately to learn from any bad choices they make. 

 

What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that High Interest appeal that really engages young readers?

Firstly, I try to choose storylines or subject matter that I know, from speaking to young people, that they will enjoy. If I am writing a story, I use very little description and try to put in as much action - and humour if appropriate - as I can. If writing non-fiction I try to find as many quirky or astounding facts about a subject as I can. I think this is the most important thing. Then it is a matter of writing the book in a direct straightforward way.

 

Can you give us any teasers of what to expect in either of your WOW! Facts books?

Here are just two quirky facts; one from each of my next two WOW! Facts books:

Did you know that the first people to paint their fingernails lived over 5,000 years ago – and they were men!

Did you know that make-up can contain whale vomit, crushed beetles and animal fat!

 

What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?

I tend to write in short, direct sentences, using uncomplicated sentence structures and vocabulary. I also aim to repeat some vocabulary, as well as introduce a few unknown words; enough to stretch but not put off the reader.

 

What is your favourite children’s book?

I have two; Wringer and Stargirl. They are both by Jerry Spinelli.

 

What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?

Hopefully after reading a book that they have chosen to read and enjoyed, students will gain a sense of achievement and feel more confident in themselves and start to see themselves as readers.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?

Yes! Read widely. Then become a good listener and people will tell you their stories.

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Alison Hawes