All About Alec Williams
Alec Williams has had over thirty years experience in public library work, mainly with children and education. Throughout his career, he has worked across the North of England, managing children’s and school library services; based in Bradford, he now works independently as a freelance trainer, speaker, consultant – and storyteller!
Alec has chaired national bodies, contributed to publications from CILIP (formerly the Library Association) and written articles for professional journals. He’s widely known as a speaker on children’s reading and libraries, at national and international conferences. His work was recognized by CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group, who in 1999 awarded him Honorary Life Membership – he’s currently on the National Reading Campaign’s Strategy Group and is a past chair of the School Library Association.
Alec’s freelance work includes:
– Training Courses and Workshops (for school librarians, teachers, public library staff, early years workers – and many other audiences)
– Consultancy (for the British Council, National Library for the Blind, MLA, VRH and others. Alec recently wrote Under the Skin for British Council, a ‘manifesto’ for their reader development work)
– Talks to conferences, AGMs and other occasions
– Guest Lectures to library schools, colleges, etc.
– Writing – articles for various journals and websites (e.g. Boys’ Reading, for SLA)
– ‘Compering’ events such as local book awards and facilitating training days
– Performance Work in schools and elsewhere (folk stories, poetry sessions and ‘book talking’ – for all ages)
Alec’s work takes him around the country and across the world; he has attended many FLA conferences and will soon be working in Oman and Bahrain for the British Council. On his way, he collects stories… because he also does a lot of direct performance work with children. A frequent visitor to schools, Alec has also told stories in Libraries, National Trust properties, outdoors, in Old People’s Homes and in large shopping centres! Children’s comments have ranged from ‘well cool!’ and ‘you’re a very good actress’, to ‘..all our class thought you were just like Mr Bean!’
An enthusiastic advocate of children’s fiction and poetry, Alec is a great supporter of reading for pleasure; he believes that however reading is taught, creating readers for life requires reading aloud, sharing stories, a lively school library, a thriving public library service, parents as partners – in fact, a ‘reading culture’ throughout schools and families. His talks and training sessions are rich in humour, examples, extracts and practical anecdotes – ‘a breath of fresh air’, as one delegate put it!
Alec’s School Visits
Performance work in schools, libraries and other venues
Alec has gained a reputation over the last few years for high-energy book promotion, poetry and storytelling sessions in schools and elsewhere. These sessions can be tailored to a range of situations and age groups and can include poetry performance, traditional oral storytelling and extracts from contemporary fiction for children. Follow-up activities with children (creative writing, oracy) are also possible. Performance work in schools will always involve promotion of libraries and can be designed to support the work of school library services.
Since leaving Leeds, Alec has worked in both primary and secondary schools throughout the Yorkshire region; Stockport; Stockton-on-Tees; Cumbria; and Glasgow. He has also told stories at museums, in parks, in shopping centres and overseas – Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Slovakia, Argentina, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. In recent years, Alec has been used by 16 summer schools throughout the North of England, including some for Gifted and Talented Pupils and one Numeracy School, where he explored number, shape, etc. through poetry and stories.
Primary Schools: Performance Work
1. Session times are normally from 25-30 minutes for nursery children, up through to 45-50 minutes for top primary.
2. Alec’s approach is to support reading for fun and to celebrate the pleasure of listening, rather than to directly support curriculum objectives.
3. Alec is happy to do straight ‘performance’ sessions with one, two or even three classes together.
4. If the schools seeks more interactive, ‘workshop’ type sessions, these are usually best with a single class group.
5. Alec normally does either four or five sessions during a school day.
6. Parents are most welcome to sit in on sessions, if the school is happy with this. Typically, this invitation is offered for the first and last sessions in the day, when parents can combine it with drop-off or pick-up.
7. Alec offers three ‘components’ in the sessions that he does do: one is storytelling, either traditional stories from memory, or picture books for younger children; the next is poetry, ranging over different poets and styles; and the third is ‘tasters’ of contemporary fiction, reading a dramatic opening or an exciting episode, to whet the appetite. He is happy to do a mix of these, or any combination of them.
8. Workshop sessions are usually concerned with oracy and aim to encourage children to read aloud. Alec usually does this through poetry, getting children to read together, read choruses, read different voices, etc. Children are also encouraged to read to the others – he has a number of poems for two or more children to read together, that he uses for this.
9. Depending on how many classes in the school, Alec can either do introductory sessions for each year group together, followed by possible follow-up sessions; or individual sessions for each group. He is happy to do something with nursery children too – feel free to fill the day!
10. If you would like for him to stay on to do a brief INSET for teachers (e.g. storytelling tips, new poetry, etc.) he’s more than willing to do this for a small additional sum.
11. Alec is also happy to do entertaining after-school or evening talks to parents about children’s books and reading.
Recommendations & Reviews
‘We really enjoyed the day. Both children and all staff have said how much they enjoyed your visit and children in Reception have retold your stories much to our delight, especially the bear and the bee and the ghost in the cellar stories. Thank-you so much for coming and we look forward to seeing you again soon’ – Holy Rosary School
“The children talked about it for days afterwards, and have asked for ‘more funny poems.’ Thank you for a superb afternoon!” – Head Teacher, Stockport
“Alec’s visit was a huge success. Events like this really enrich children’s education, and lead to a greater love of language and reading.” – Head Teacher, Backwell School, Somerset
“I am still enjoying the ‘afterglow’ of Alec Williams’ visit as my daughter Katherine retells one of his stories to me every night! It made a very big impression on her.” – Parent, after a storytelling performance
“The story telling seminar was one of the most valuable events I have attended this term. It was valuable because story-telling is one of the better things in life; valuable because it got me into a learning mood on an overworked weekend; but most valuable because the emphasis was on enjoyment and giving pleasure and a life-long good habit to as many kids as we can reach…and it was fun! And for heaven’s sake there certainly isn’t enough fun in this country! Thank you Alec. To hear you was almost painful, as a whole chunk of me was yelling out ‘Yes. That’s Right! How do we reach enough people?’ Your handouts helped too, and we’re working on beefing up our shared reading programme. It was helpful, up-cheering and ideas-triggering. Thank you for the giggle, and the magic. I hope you will come again soon. We need you.” – Teacher after a storytelling seminar in Turkey
“You have inspired me to be bold with poetry, and I have just had a couple of small groups begging for more of it!” – School Librarian, after a poetry performance in Wiltshire
“The boys were inspired by your reading, big style! Students and adults alike so enjoyed your readings, you’re amazing.” – School Librarian, Belfast
“Five students in one Year 8 group were fighting over the one hardback copy of Berlie Doherty’s Abela on Friday, and both copies of Pete Johnson’s My Friend’s a Werewolf went out at the first opportunity, along with a good selection of poetry books. Staff have been enthusing about the effects on students. One told us that students had been going around school quoting lines of poetry and punching the air to the sound of ‘Yeah!!’ Even those ‘cool’ students who were not keen to be seen reading were discussing your stories and poems. Kids enthusing about reading, and enjoying playing with words – great!” – School Librarian, Somerset
“My shelves are getting emptier after your visit – I must have loaned another 20 or more poetry books this morning alone! – and at the Year 7 Parents’ Evening last night, lots of students and parents were talking to their English teachers about the storytelling sessions, and saying how much they’d enjoyed them.” – Havering School Librarian
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Alec Williams, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org