What books did you read when you were a child?
I particularly liked Humbert by John Burningham, everything by Enid Blyton, the Charlie Brown ‘Peanuts’ comic books and E B White’s Charlotte’s Web.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I love the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, and I’d like to be Frog. He is kind, reasonable, sweet, and the perfect foil for Toad’s somewhat grumpy, foolish, slapstick personality.
What is the best thing about reading?
The best thing about reading is when you get so immersed in the world of a story that you can’t put a book down! That you live in that world and you’re sad to leave it when the story ends.
What is your all-time favourite book?
My all-time favourite book is Humbert by John Burningham. It’s about a working horse who dreams of pulling the Lord Mayor of London’s coach in the annual parade. The illustrations are breath-taking!
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Children’s communication skills can be developed in many ways. One idea is to get very young children who can’t yet write to dictate their own stories to a parent. Another idea is to simply talk about stories to children, ask them about why certain characters acted the way they did. Ask them if they would change the story at all. Any discussion is great. As a child, I always loved hearing my family tell stories not just from books, but from their own lives too.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents played a major role in encouraging me. My sisters and I always had tons to read, whether they were books from the library, or bought. My dad was a printer, and brought home lots of scrap paper for my mini masterpieces. They praised any attempt, and made me feel good about everything I did. They gave me the space to get lost in my own world.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I have always read to my son Gabriel, since he was one week old. There’s no nicer feeling than being snuggled up with your son and a story. We have read hundreds of books together, but I think some of the favourites are Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. As he grew older we would ask a librarian or bookseller to assist us in making a choice based on his interests. Now he’s into books for older children and loves Wonder by R J Palacio.
Fiona Robinson was born in Manchester, England but now lives in New York. She is the author and illustrator of several picture books including the most recent, ‘Ada’s Ideas, the story of Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer’.
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