Prolific children’s and young adult author, Eleanor Watkins, recently inspired classes at her local college to take on the challenge of writing often, whatever their ability.
Speaking at a certificate presentation at Brecon Beacons College (part of NPTC Group of Colleges), Eleanor, based near Hay-on-Wye, Powys, congratulated students on completing the College’s Reading Challenge. Organised by the College’s library staff, the Challenge encourages students who lack confidence in their reading skills to read and review six books or audiobooks in the space of a term.
To complement the awarding of the certificates, the author of over 50 books, including Beech Bank Girls and Nobody’s Dog, held a Q&A with the winning students in the College’s Library. Answering “How do you write a book?” Eleanor believed the most important trait in finishing a story and being published was “perseverance.”
Having written regularly since she was four, Eleanor’s “perseverance” at her favourite craft landed her with her first story in a magazine at 21, and first published book at 31. She told the students: “The main thing about writing is you need to want to do it. With the right encouragement and support, you can succeed as long as you have something to tell people with your stories.”
On the completion of the Reading Challenge, Eleanor said the students had “all done so so well. They seem interested in writing as well as reading” adding that “stories are wonderful because they can take you to a different time and place.”
Alongside her work as a published author, Eleanor has a long history of working in farming as a farmer’s daughter, and now a farmer’s wife. She continues to write for children, young adults and also some adult fiction, including memoir, Blue Remembered Hills: A memoir of childhood on the Welsh borders. To see more of Eleanor’s portfolio of work, you can visit her Facebook page, Eleanor Watkins Books: Eleanor Watkins books | Facebook
A new record was set during the College’s Reading Challenge this year by Gateway student, Erin Moore, who was presented the ‘Best Review’ certificate by Eleanor as pictured. Erin had completed the Challenge at the start of the term in less than a week, focussing on classical stories he had at home.
Having won for his review of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, he said: “I didn’t expect to win. I like to read classic young adult stories” and described the book as “beautifully written.” Similar to Eleanor’s comments about stories taking you to different “times and places”, Erin finds it fascinating to read “what was written back then.”
Erin was supported by his friend and Life Skills student, Sam Mayer, saying they had also both read the Diary of Anne Frank with their class as part of the Challenge. On reading it, Sam said “We read the Diary of Anne Frank during Holocaust Awareness Week. It was very emotional and informative and serious for us.”
The College’s library team were very pleased with the success of over 30 students finishing a variety of books for the Reading Challenge. The Library team added:
“It’s wonderful to see students engaging so positively with books and reading. The challenge encourages them to explore the library to find books that interest them and gain confidence in their reading skills. Hopefully, the challenge and the inspiring talk from Eleanor will encourage them to develop a lifelong love of reading.”