Judith Eagle

What books did you read when you were a child?
Anything that featured orphans, workhouses and wicked matrons; books with troublesome children, like Ramona the Pest and Just William; and the Little House series which I read multiple times.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Claudia (From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler) because she is smart and funny and when she runs away, instead of doing the usual thing and escaping to the countryside, she holes up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art so she can enjoy home comforts and learn new stuff!

What is the best thing about reading?
Reading is just so entertaining! You will never be bored with a book. Plus, if you belong to a library, it’s free.

What is your all-time favourite book?
That is SO hard. Can I suggest five that have left a big impression? Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and either Oliver Twist or Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Now stop me before I add more!

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Put their phones away and talk to them! Eat together, go on outings, discover new things.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A huge part by giving me and my sisters loads of time and space to read and play! We went to the library every Saturday. We had a drawer full of dressing up clothes and a cupboard full art supplies. We went to museums on rainy Sundays and for family walks on dry Sundays. In a roundabout way, all these things fed my imagination and fostered my writing skills.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Model good reading behaviour: read for yourself, read together, read at the library, and let children choose their own books. For shared reading, funny poetry by Michael Rosen always goes down well.

Judith Eagle studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art and worked in fashion and journalism before getting a job in a school library. Her first book The Secret Starling is published by Faber.

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