Kids warm to author over his own literacy struggle
Children's author Alistair McIntyre will be roaring around Manawatu primary schools in a big rig this week delivering messages about reading, writing and staying in school.
Mr Mac, as he is known, wrote the Doug the Digger books and is on a whirlwind tour around the region as part of Duffy Books in Homes - a programme aimed at improving literacy at low-decile schools.
He was a kid who struggled at school, admitting he skipped classes, caused trouble and dropped out of the education system at 15 with poor grades and a low literacy level.
"I spent most of my time at school talking to mates and biffing paper planes around the class . . . I thought I was really smart bunking school, but I wasn't," Mr Mac said.
He set up a successful truck transportation company and built a career operating heavy machinery.
But life was turned on its head when, at the age of 25, Mr Mac's arm was crushed at work.
"After about 10 years struggling away I thought ‘Hmmm, what can I do next?' and that's when I had a dream about writing a book."
He had the resources, but he soon realised the big problem he faced in making his book come to fruition was his struggle with reading and writing.
At the age of 37, Mr Mac became the "big kid in class" and went back to primary school to redo his ABCs and one-two-threes.
He now tours New Zealand promoting numeracy and literacy and spreading messages about children doing their best at school to help create a solid foundation for the future.
"These are things that will help you later on in life.
"Be proud of the work you do, keep working on it and it will turn into something."
Terrace End School principal Sue Allomes said it was important to bring the visibility of reading to the foreground.
"The fact that Mr Mac's able to talk about the specifics in teaching, and things that turn children off learning, and turn it around to motivate the children is just great."
Terrace End School's 100-plus pupils received a book each thanks to the Duffy scheme.
Mr Mac also visited Tangimoana School yesterday and is at Sanson School, St Mary's School, in Foxton, and Foxton School today. He will visit Shannon School, Levin East School and Otaki School tomorrow, before finishing at Awapuni School and Roslyn School on Friday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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