Some of my earliest memories from school involve books; Charlotte’s Web, The Hungry Caterpillar and earlier than that the Topsy and Tim books. I first came into contact with Priya Desai on Twitter. Priya is a published children’s writer and speech therapist. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Priya and I spoke to her about what she does, the struggle parents have and what she loves about working with children..
Priya, tell us a little about what you do…
I work as a children’s speech and language therapist in London Monday-Friday, which involves direct work with children. When possible, I also write about working with and helping kids for parents and teachers.
The rest of my time is spent being an author, visiting schools and also working on new stories.
How did you get into writing?
I didn’t actually start writing to be a writer. I wanted to make a book and see if I could do it. I then discovered that I could write, so I kept going; now I’m glad I didn’t stop!
Where did you discover your passion for writing for children and what have you worked on so far?
The passion came from working with kids. Kids make me come alive – that’s the best way I can put it I guess. When you are with a child, you are invited into their little world – you enjoy in it the most if you fully take part! This is what I do every day; and this is where I get my ideas from. My first two books though, were inspired by the fact that kids didn’t seem to have positive role-models in stories that spoke about they do every day at school. My first book Benjamin Writer-Messy is about a boy who has terrible handwriting. He learns to believe in himself and this helps him overcome his difficulties with handwriting. My second book, Jake Monkey-Tail is a sweet story about a monkey that can’t spell. We learn with Jake through the story and kids pick up some interesting tricks that they can use themselves to help them with their own spelling. So in both stories, kids learn without realising it – there’s plenty of much needed story-magic along the way too.
Did you enjoy writing and English at school?
I have to be honest, I wanted to be able to write and I think I had some nice ideas, especially in secondary school; but writing wasn’t something that came naturally to me. Detailed descriptions and giving my writing some sort of flow was hard.
For parents, a child struggling with a subject at school is always difficult, how do you help parents with this?
Firstly as an educator or teacher, you need to really spend time to get to know a child. Each child learns in a different way and obviously their character plays a part in how they learn. You need to discuss the strengths of a child with parents and take the time to appreciate them; then highlight the weak areas, make up a realistic action plan, put the plan into action, then review progress and change whatever is not working.
What is the best part of your job?
I love that I’m always learning. When you teach and a child has a difficulty, you have to always find new ways to teach them well. Now I’m an author, I’m able to reach even more children and help them by discussing my stories and also work with them on developing their stories and writing.
What is next for Priya Desai?
Hopefully you will see more books soon. I’m also working on developing my speech and language therapy work further by sharing my teaching ideas and tips through Skype in the Classroom and You Tube. Benjamin Writer-Messy was turned into a play this year so fingers crossed there is more of this next year. I’d love to see Jake Monkey-Tail performed as play. Who knows what’s possible?
You can follow Priya by visiting the following:
Priya Mulji x