Piatkus are hosting a UK Giveaway for five winners to win a signed copy of FALL FROM INDIA PLACE (out June 3rd 2014). To enter: http://www.piatkusentice.co.uk/competitions/samanthayoungcomp/
Here's a teaser of the upcoming fourth book in the ON DUBLIN STREET series...
I’d made a promise to myself when I stepped onto the cobbled streets of Edinburgh on the way to my first teaching job that I’d be the kind of teacher who would do whatever it took to reach my students. Never mind that now keeping that promise meant embarrassing myself and them with my fantastically awful drawing skills.
Removing my badly drawn illustrations from the projector, I replaced them with two sentences.
I glanced up at the small class of six adults, ranging in age from twenty-four to fifty-two, and gave them a wry smile. “Though I hate to deprive you of my artistic genius, I think I’d better get rid of those.”
Portia, my fifty-two-year-old student, who had enough good cheer to lighten the often nervous atmosphere in the small classroom, grinned at me, while Duncan, a thirty-three-year-old mechanic, snorted. My other four students continued to stare at me wide-eyed and slightly scared, as though everything I said and did was a test.
“Now that you’ve learned these sight words and hopefully connected to them through my terrible attempts at drawing, I want you to become familiar with how they fit in an everyday sentence. For the rest of our time this evening I want you to write these two sentences ten times each.” I watched Lorraine, my very, very anxious and prickly twenty-four-year-old student, gnaw at her lip, and winced at the thought of what she might do to said lip after my next instruction. I continued. “I’ve got two small booklets here for each of you. One is filled with sight words, the other with sentences made up entirely of sight words. I want you to choose ten sentences and write those sentences out ten times each and bring them with you next week.”
Lorraine blanched and I immediately felt my chest squeeze with empathy. Lorraine was a prime example of why I’d decided to volunteer to teach an adult literacy course at my local community center. Some people, like my friend Suzanne, thought I was absolutely nuts to take on a volunteer teaching job during my probationary year as a high school English teacher. And maybe I was. My workload for school was insane. However, I shared the literacy class with another volunteer, so it was only one night out of my week—and it was something that really made me feel like I was making a difference. Sometimes it was harder to see the impact I made in high school, and I knew that there would be an awful lot of days ahead of me when I wouldn’t feel like I was leaving much of an impression. However, volunteering gave me that sense of satisfaction every single time. The adults I was teaching were mostly unemployed, with the exception of Portia and Duncan. Duncan’s employer had asked him to improve his reading and writing skills. Portia had somehow managed to get through life on a very basic understanding of literacy and numeracy (until one day she decided she wanted more), but the others were struggling to maintain employment because of their lack of language and communication skills.
I knew illiteracy was still a big deal in this country, but since I came from an educated family, and was a massive bookworm, it was something I had never been touched by. Until last year.
There was one moment during my teacher training year that would always stand out: I was in contact with a student’s father who had been visibly shaken when asked to look at his child’s work. Sweat beaded on his forehead as he confessed in a halting voice that he couldn’t read it. Then, when I asked him to sign a permission slip that would allow us to take his daughter with us for the class trip to see Twelfth Night in the theater, his hand badly trembled as he made a squiggle on the signature line.