Kate Saunders

What books did you read when you were a child?
The books I loved as a child were The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, Five Children and It and The Wouldbegoods by E.Nesbit, Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kastner, anything by Noel Streatfeild, especially Ballet Shoes and Thursday's Child, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken... and so many more. I still love them all.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I wanted to be Pauline Fossil, the beautiful oldest girl in Ballet Shoes who grows up to be a film star.

What is the best thing about reading?
There's nothing like the wrap-around sense of escapism you get from sinking into a great book. No other form of entertainment comes near.

What is your all-time favourite book?
My favourite book of all time is either L.M Alcott's Little Women, or Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - I can't narrow it down any further.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Children, even when they are very little, love having conversations. They love to linger over the pictures in a book, noticing and discussing all the details. Sharing a story, talking about the characters, is a delightful way to encourage a child's communication skills. My parents were both very good storytellers and making up a special story for a child is the best kind of attention you can give them.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I can't begin to say how much my parents helped me to become a writer. First, there were the BOOKS. I grew up in a house stuffed with every sort of book, from War and Peace to Portnoy's Complaint, and nobody ever tried to dictate what I should be reading. Nothing (not even Krafft-Ebbing) was forbidden. My parents knew I wrote stories, but tactfully kept their distance; I would have been far too self-conscious if I'd felt they were breathing down my neck at what I'd written. And their criticisms, when invited, were always positive and kind.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I have very happy memories of reading the early Harry Potter books aloud to my son when he was small. Reading aloud to a child is a terrific introduction to the world of books. Though my son was too young to be able to read the books himself, his listening-age was several years in advance of his reading-age.

Kate Saunders was born in north London, the second of six children. In her youth she was a professional actor, and she turned into a writer and journalist when she published a novel in her mid-twenties. Her greatest ambition was always to write books for children and she very much enjoys getting letters from her readers.

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