Opening eyes and imaginations
by Hannah Knight
Suitable for Key Stage 3/4
To celebrate the life and works of author Jacqueline Wilson.
Preparation and materials
- Create images of the four quotes from Jacqueline Wilson that appear in italics in the ‘Assembly’ and have the means to display them during the assembly.
- For information, visit Jacqueline Wilson’s website at: www.jacquelinewilson.co.uk/index.php
- Jacqueline is patron of the Momentum charity and you can find out more about its work by visiting its website at: www.moment-um.org
- You can see Jacqueline reading her favourite poem, ‘Overheard on a Saltmarsh’ by Harold Monroe, which features in her collection of poems named after the focus of the poem, Green Glass Beads (Macmillan Children’s Books, 2012), at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=04TW5FUNi7s
- Have available the theme tune from the Tracy Beaker television programme and the means to play it at the end of the assembly or you could show the clip at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg71aHBe9no
- Display the first quote, as follows:
It was such a relief to realize someone else had a weird vivid inner life like my own!
Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath in 1945, but spent most of her childhood in Kingston-on-Thames in Surrey.
During her childhood, Jacqueline immersed herself in books as a coping mechanism for her parent’s unhappy marriage. She let her imagination run wild and her teachers started to call her ‘Jacky Daydream’ because of her persistent daydreaming.
At the age of nine, Jacqueline demonstrated her imaginative skills by writing a book of her own called Meet the Maggots, which, unknown to Jacqueline, would be the start of her successful career as an author.
After secondary school, Jacqueline’s passion for writing continued to blossom and she relocated to Dundee in Scotland to work as a journalist on a teen magazine. It wasn’t long before her writing talents were recognized, but she thinks they were joking when they said that the magazine was named after her – it was called Jackie!
At the age of 19, Jacqueline married Millar Wilson and together they had a little girl called Emma. Six years later, Jacqueline picked up her pen again, ready to show the world what she was made of.
- Display the second quote, as follows:
I want to write to every age group, in a way that can prepare them for what happens in the real world, and raise the awareness levels of many life-changing situations. I want to be a friend, really.
Jacqueline Wilson wrote 40 children’s books before she struck gold in 1991 with her first book about the now famous Tracy Beaker. Tracy spoke to all sorts of teenage insecurities, touching on family, friendship and peer pressure.
So many 9- to 11-year-olds across the country had found comfort in reading about Tracy Beaker that, before long, orders for Tracy Beaker stationery, toys and duvet covers came pouring in. Tracy Beaker had clearly turned into a national phenomenon and Jacqueline still had more ideas up her sleeve.
- Display the third quote, as follows:
Some adults do have a problem with my books, without having read them; they think they are very outspoken and depressing. But they always have a happy ending.
Many parents felt outraged by her work, describing Jacqueline as stealing away childhood, but she had no regrets. She wanted children to grow up with some understanding of adult troubles from reading her books, particularly children who lack the confidence to speak out.
Jacqueline also felt that a problem shared is a problem halved, meaning that children will feel supported as a result of reading her books, that they are not alone.
Jacqueline had more of her books published, including The Dare Game, which tells the story of a child who lives in residential and foster care, The Bed and Breakfast Star, about a family living in bed and breakfast accommodation, The Illustrated Mum, about a mum with tatoos who has multiple boyfriends, and many more.
Over the course of her career, Jacqueline has successfully sold over 35 million books, six of them being in the top ten children’s paperback bestsellers list in 2000 and many awards.
In 2008, Jacqueline was made a Dame by the Queen.
- Display the fourth quote, as follows:
Dame is such a wonderfully old-fashioned and splendid title – it seems highly appropriate.
During her career, Jacqueline Wilson not only received heaps of fan mail every day but also personal letters about bullying and difficulties at home. Jacqueline has said she tried to answer such letters ‘like a kind auntie’, so children know that somebody sympathizes with their plight.
Jacqueline is also involved with many charities, including becoming a patron of Momentum in 2006, which is a charity that helps children (up to the age of 17) in Surrey and South West London who are undergoing treatment for cancer, and their families.
This just goes to show how powerful words can be – words of reassurance, advice, knowledge and sometimes even humour can result in improving uplifting and inspiring people’s lives. Try it at home. Try reading a book or poem about a difficult subject, such as bullying. Try writing a diary about how you are feeling to make you feel better or maybe read a book out loud to one of your siblings. You will soon start to see how authors such as Jacqueline Wilson can change the world with words!
Time for reflection
Close your eyes and think of all we have to be thankful for.
Let us be thankful for the clothes on our backs, our plentiful meals and the precious people in our lives who provide us with love and comfort during difficult times.
Let us think of the books, poems and verses from the Bible that guide us, the opportunities open to us and let us thank God for creating us.
Theme tune from the Tracy Beaker television programme
‘All things bright and beautiful’ (Come and Praise, 3)