Brian Bilston

What books did you read when you were a child?
Many of the classics, such as Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden, all of Dahl, a lot of Blyton – and I LOVED the Three Investigators series, Mr Men and Roy of the Rovers.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. More specifically, Charlie at the very moment he discovers the golden ticket - I’ve yet to read anything more thrilling.

What is the best thing about reading?
For me, reading is about freedom - it allows me to go anywhere. When I read stories, it opens doors to whole new worlds, and when I read non-fiction, it opens doors in this world.

What is your all time favourite book?
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13¾. I read it when I was a similar age and it has made me laugh more than any book I know.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Children always have something interesting to say. Take the time to listen to them.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Not much, if I’m honest! Outside of school, I was a big reader but I didn’t write much. I was too busy running around with a football at my feet, pretending to be Trevor Francis.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Reading by example can really help – if they see you with a book, they’re more likely to pick up a book themselves. Two of my favourite books I’ve read to children are The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Brian Bilston is a poet and novelist, who has been described as ‘the poet laureate’ of Twitter. He’s the author of You Took the Last Bus Home (Unbound, 2016), a collection of his poems shared on social media, and the novel Diary of a Somebody (Picador, 2019) which combines poetry and fiction. His first book for children, Refugees was published in October 2019 by Palazzo Editions.

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