Horatio Clare

What books did you read when you were a child?
A great deal by BB, the wonderful nature writer; Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart; The Wind in the Willows; The Sword in the Stone; Cecil Lewis’ Sagittarius Rising, Rosemary Sutcliffe’s amazing historical fiction; Roald Dahl, Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea, and Asterix and Tintin of course!

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
The Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake in Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child. His language is hilarious, he saves the elephant’s child from the crocodile, and encourages him to use his new trunk in wonderfully dramatic ways.

What is the best thing about reading?
It takes you to all the most beautiful and exciting places ever seen or imagined, and shows you the best of human beings.

What is your all time favourite book?
I do not have a favourite but one I love is A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. It is so funny and tender and true.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
When you are not listening, talk! I have learned that asking questions is not always the best way to solicit stories. Tell one of your own and see what comes back.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
They read to me every night, it seems now, until I began reading for myself. Their own pleasure in reading inspired mine, and from there I began to write.

How do you encourage your children/nieces/nephews/grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
At the moment our four year-old is into folk and fairy tales, Greek and Irish myths (as long as no dogs die) Dahl, Kipling, Randall Jarells’s The Animal Family, Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man and lots of short stories. Children love anything which makes the reader give a performance and do some voices.

Horatio Clare is an award winning writer of memoir, nature and travel books. His first book for children, Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, won the Brandford Boase Award 2016. The second, Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds is out now, published by Firefly Press.

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