Frances Maynard is an English teacher and author of two novels including Maggsie McNaughton's Second Chance, published this year. Here she tells us about how she uses Quick Reads in her teaching and in her own writing.
Thanks for talking to us today, Frances! Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I work for Skills and Learning (adult education) in Dorset. This offers students a second chance to increase their confidence in reading and literacy and to gain a qualification. It's an ideal home for Quick Reads. We have a Quick Reads carousel in the English classroom.
Before that I used to review books. I remember reviewing Chickenfeed by Minette Walters - she's a Dorset author which is where I live.
How did you first discover Quick Reads?
I did my teaching training in 2009 but I knew about Quick Reads before then. I used them from the beginning of my teaching. Quick Reads are useful for all kinds of student. You can sit down with someone and read one together. Some words come up time and time again. Sometimes I need to give more of an introduction with less able students. More confident readers can use them independently. You can use them as a class textbook - you can hand a few copies out and ask them to look up why, who and what's happening next in the book. They're very flexible tools. They are also attractive because of the covers and the fact they can fit in your pocket. They're only about 100 pages.
Can you tell us about a particular person you have taught who has benefited from Quick Reads?
One person I can think of who benefited from them was a student who was severely dyslexic. I picked up a copy of Hello Mum (a Quick Read by Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo) and he looked at it apprehensively and said, "I won't be able to read that. It's a proper book." Once we had read the first page together he said, "I didn't expect it to be like that. Like take you straight into the story. This isn't too bad." Then next lesson he wanted to read the book again. That student passed his exams - I don't know what has happened to him since but I think he would be able to go to the library and read one himself.
How did Quick Reads come to feature in your own writing?
Maggsie McNaughton's Second Chance is the title of my second novel. My first was about a young woman with autism; this is about dyslexia which is something I encounter every day in my work. All Maggsie's experiences in the book are based on what students have told me. She has learnt to read a bit - she's just been released from prison; she meets a Polish man who improves her reading. He takes her to Lewisham Library where there are Quick Reads on display. Quick Reads are the first books in English that he read. She joins the library and takes out a book; she chooses Cleanskin by Val McDermid. She doesn't think she will be able to read it but gradually she does read the whole book. Then she goes back and chooses another one.
What do you think of the new series?
I had a look at them - I like the design; it's very bright. The covers are very attractive and I think there's a good mix in the selection. I think the Adam Kay is a good idea.
Find links to pre-order Quick Reads from four online retailers here.
Read more stories about how Quick Reads have benefited people's lives.
What do our brilliant Quick Reads 2020 authors think of the scheme? Find out here.