Andy Seed lives in the secret hills of North Yorkshire where he comes up with ideas for funny things that children love to read. His collection of facts and jokes The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff won the 2015 Blue Peter Book Award. He loves cheese, table tennis and being out in the wild. His latest book, The Silly Book of Weird and Wacky Words is out now.
Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I mainly read books of facts, like Guinness World Records, but also adventure stories like the brilliant Stig of the Dump. Oh, and Greek myths about warrior heroes and hairy monsters too.
Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: Willy Wonka would be cool but having access that much chocolate would be a VERY dangerous thing…
Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: You get to enter the fantastical world of another person’s imagination. And reading makes you clever too.
Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: SO hard to choose… Robinson Crusoe is one of them – the story of a man who is shipwrecked on a desert island and has to survive on his own until he sees footprints in the sand.
Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Talking to children in such a way that they get to do most of the talking is immensely valuable. But there are many other underrated things. Saying nursery rhymes, enjoying wordplay together, listening to poems, telling jokes when they are older (knock-knocks are wonderful in this respect, even the bad ones) and encouraging them to tell you what they’ve been doing. Helping children to put on simple puppet shows is another winning way to build communication skills. My own book The Anti-Boredom Book of Brilliant Things to Do has hundreds of brief, simple talking and thinking activities which encourage imagination and verbal development – and they are great fun too. It was written from ideas used to help my daughter through a long illness.
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: Ooh, I hope my mum doesn’t read this… I was very much one of those late developers. I came to reading late and I came to writing very late. I can’t really remember being encouraged in either of these areas a lot although we did go to the library as a family which helped immensely. However, I was always encouraged to be creative and that was an extremely positive thing in my childhood. My early writing was awful but my parents were never really critical with regard to this and so that was also a big help. I think an important role that parents play is that of enabling their children to understand and believe that they can become good at something in the future which they struggle with in the present. It happened to me.
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: Picture books for the very young – you just can’t have too many. And nursery rhymes are so valuable too. These should just be shared, read, talked about and the pictures enjoyed. Anything by the simple wonderful Janet and Allan Ahlberg will be a success, and that goes for books for slightly older readers: 4-6 (things like Happy Families). Share lots of poetry too and brilliantly illustrated non-fiction – both sadly overlooked by most people. Another good way to encourage them to read is to share funny books together – jokes and silly stuff. It imbues a positive attitude towards reading, especially at those difficult ages 8-10 when distractions start to kick in in a big way. Finally, buy them lots of good books, go to the library, let them choose books in bookshops and show that you value books and you are a reader!
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