I saw this article in the London Evening Standard on the train yesterday and was quite surprised.
One of Britain’s best loved children’s authors has revealed that she was bullied at school and praised children nowadays for being willing to talk about the problem.
Jacqueline Wilson, who did not tell anyone about her own experience, said she receives more letters from victims of bullying than ever before. The Tracy Beaker creator said she tries to answer letters “like a kind auntie” so children know that somebody sympathises with their plight.
Speaking to the Evening Standard to support the Get London Reading campaign, she said: “I went through a term where I was bullied by some other girls and I didn’t dream of telling anybody, even my parents or friends at home. It was something I put up with miserably. It’s a good thing it is more out in the open now and we can discuss things. Adults are far more concerned about children’s welfare, too.”
Wilson added that there were not necessarily more bullies around nowadays but victims were more willing to seek help. She said: “More children are writing to me about bullying. Some of them are having a rough time and it’s horrible. Sometimes a kid might have said ‘you look stupid’ to them. Children are much more conscious of teasing and bullying, so stuff that 20 years ago may have been considered banter between children now sometimes children worry about it more.”
Wilson’s 100th book will be published this year. Her trademark theme is young people struggling with less-than-perfect lives, covering topics such as bullying, divorce and alcoholism.
She added that despite the letters about bullying, children are still “resilient and eager to have a good time”.
Wilson spoke out on a visit to St Monica’s Roman Catholic Primary school in Hackney, where she read to children as part of the literacy campaign. The school has seven reading volunteers funded by the Evening Standard and the Mayor’s Fund, and trained and selected by partner charity Beanstalk.
Backing the campaign, Wilson said: “Reading is my greatest pleasure and anything that enables children to enjoy books too is a winner. I am a great believer in reading aloud to children, right from when they are toddlers you can share stories together. It is difficult now because most families are terribly busy… so volunteers coming into schools who are not there to try to impart information but just there to be a friendly person to help you enjoy reading is a brilliant idea.”
Wilson, 68, who continues to write two books a year, said the key to getting children to read was to find one book that they love.
Now it has to be said, I’m not heavily familiar with Jacqueline Wilson’s works, aside from Tracy Beaker, which I remember reading when I was in Year 5 as part of a Literacy topic we were doing. When I was of that age, I found it hard to appreciate it. But it seems that looking at this I might have to pick up a couple of her books. If anyone has a favourite let me know!