Award-winning author Alex Wheatle MBE inspired students to get writing when he shared his own moving story of how reading changed his life.
The winner of the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction award visited the Academy as part of an initiative organised by Blackwell’s University Bookshop in Newcastle.
Journalists from our Y7 Reporter Club went along to meet him as he talked about his new book Straight Outta Crongton.
The whole experience was a joy for everyone from teachers to students and even Alex himself. Alex shared his life story and details on his time in prison. The whole audience hardly made a peep as they were so engrossed in the story from the solid beginnings to terrific endings. Forty students purchased books from the event.
A highlight of the day was the exclusive interview with the four lucky Y7 students currently in the Reporter Club. One of our very own lead journalists, Ryan Wilson, said: “It was an amazing experience and I am very fortunate to have met and interviewed him.”
Review by Rhys Davison, pictures sourced by Mason Wass.
Amazing Author Visit
by Ryan Wilson, research by Nick Forster
On Wednesday the 26th of April 2017, famous author, Alex Alphonso Wheatle, visited the very fortunate Y7 students of Josephine Butler Secondary Campus and told his inspiring life story.
He told us about how every story was actually based on different parts of his life, for example, ‘Liccle Bit’ was based on his life as a teenager in Brixton.
He also told us about his traumatic childhood, filled with threats of violence and homelessness. He went on to discuss the fact that he went to prison and how that’s where he got his education – his cellmate’s books.
Many students felt it was an honour to have the author speak to us. Alex even took the time to answer some questions from the reporting club:
What inspired you to become an author/writer?
“I was inspired by loads of things, these include my old cellmate, my parentless childhood and the fact that I would be inspiring children to read and write more often. I’ve overcome many challenges in my life and want to share my experiences so that hopefully children can be inspired by my story.”
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
“I would say I’m creative, determined and resilient, although my friends might say something such as obstinate! They’d definitely agree that I’m bookish and hard-working.”
What advice would you give children who want to become authors?
“Keep in the habit of writing and being creative. Try listening to your favourite songs but changing the lyrics. Writing is so fun.”
What has been your favourite experience since becoming an author?
“As a fan of music, I was invited to the Jamaican University of the West Indies and was interviewed for their radio station. I got to choose songs to play for the whole of Kingston!
I also love coming into schools and inspiring children to read and write. I enjoy meeting all the people who are trying to improve the lives of children e.g. teachers and librarians.
I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to meet some of my heroes too, such as Kenny Dalglish and members of the Royal Family.”