Jewell Parker Rhodes

What books did you read when you were a child?
I read anything and everything my teachers and school librarians gave me. I was poor and didn’t have books at home. But I did collect glass pop bottles and redeemed them at the store for a nickel. Then, I’d buy comic books for ten cents.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Prince Valiant. He was the hero of my first set of Classic Illustrated Comics.

What is the best thing about reading?
Reading transports me to different worlds and allows me to experience characters’ emotions and share their adventures. Reading encourages empathy and makes my heart bigger!

What is your all-time favourite book?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Make faces! Children love imitating faces. Not only will they develop wordless relationship skills but they’re also discover how powerful expressions can be.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I was raised by my grandmother who left school during the third grade to work. Grandmother told the greatest, most outrageous and heartfelt stories. When I write, I focus on aurality—echoing my grandmother’s voice and celebrating the African American oral tradition.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
From infancy to sixth grade, my husband and I read every night to our children. We read Goodnight Moon, Chicka-Chika Boom Boom, Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Bridge to Terbithia, The Hobbit, and so many more. Now I’m reading to my sixteen month old granddaughter. Her favourite book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes is the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She is an award-winning and bestselling author for adults and children. In April 2018, the children’s book Ghost Boys will be publishing in the UK with Orion Children’s Books.

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