From diapers to Dahl: a day in the life of a Literature for Children and Young Adults Master’s student

English MA students





6 am
Sneak out of the house so I don’t wake the children and drive 2.5 hours to Plymouth. I can do sessions remotely, but it doesn’t beat getting involved in face-to-face conversation, so I try to come in at least once a month.
I use the peace and quiet of the journey to listen to an audiobook, usually one from our course reading list – this week’s selection: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (I definitely missed a few turnings distracted by Brianna’s love interest!)

9:30 am
Session 1 – Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults.
Picture books: could you come up with an exciting concept for a children’s book from a jellyfish and a washing-up liquid bottle and restrict it to a 12-page layout structure?

12-1 pm
Lunch – there’s a real mix of ages on our programme (from 25-79!) and a range of life experiences (teachers, students, midwives, and writers) so lunch is always a laugh from discussing the merits and attractions of David Tenant (?) to outlining the business proposal of the café-slash-bookshop (Tea and Tales) that we’re all going to open one day!
We check in with our course leader Leah Phillips (Published author, YA queen, and all-around good egg), and debate the world of Kid-Lit…should they really be editing Roald Dahl’s novels?

1 pm
Session 2 – Genres & Themes.
Gothic Literature: critical analysis and discussion around The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. What’s the difference between gothic literature, ghost stories, and horror? Why do children love scary stories and is there such a thing as horror for children?

3:45 pm
Begin the 2.5-hour drive home to Wiltshire listening to 90s playlists and belting out Mariah Carey ballads. I get home just in time for bath time with my 2- and 4-year-old. We read Zog for the hundredth time and I try not to fall asleep with them.

8:00 pm
Order a takeaway and watch a cheesy rom-com to switch off – I definitely recommend the new Ashton Kutcher/Reese Witherspoon Your Place or Mine.

10 pm
Collapse into bed (it’s a school night!) and try not to think about the masses of reading and assignments coming up…It can sometimes feel overwhelming studying whilst working and having a young family but it’s such a fascinating course with such knowledgeable lecturers so it’s absolutely worth all my free time!


Authored by: Becci Wallis, MA Literature for Children and Young Adults student

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