What books did you read when you were a child?
When I was a kid, I was a reading-shark, always gobbling up books and hungry for more. Books like Charlotte’s Web, My Father’s Dragon, the Narnia books, and James and the Giant Peach. Everything from Dr. Seuss and Pippi Longstocking silliness to more serious books like A Secret Garden and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Well, that’s way too hard to answer. I could be a different character every day and never run out. But if I had to choose just one, I’d be Karana, the girl in Island of the Blue Dolphins, because she is so strong and clever and self-reliant.
What is the best thing about reading?
Every good book I’ve ever read has been a passport to a different world. I’ve travelled to every continent, beyond the solar system, back in time, into the future, and into the shoes of hundreds of characters in all shapes, colours, sizes, and situations. When I read, I’m alone… but I’m never lonely.
What is your all-time favourite book?
Another totally unanswerable question! Just one? Impossible. But I loved The Once and Future King so much that I’ll stop there and send a silent apology to all the others I haven’t named.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Listen to them. Make time for kids to talk about themselves and their experiences, ask them questions, and really, really listen. And then try hard to remember what it feels like to be a kid and talk with them (not to them) about what’s most important to them.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Huge! Both of my parents read and write and talk about books a lot. Always have. And they have always applauded my efforts, from the time I was little. They’ve always encouraged me to be active in every sense, especially by leading the life of the mind.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
When my sons were little, I read to them every night. And I told them stories, too, in which they were characters. (My son Cameron was frequently a boy who could talk to wolves.) I still buy them books now that they’re grown up. Best of all, they read the ones I write, and we talk about them. And my older son, Ryland, is writing a screenplay of my book Wolf Hollow. So cool.
Lauren Wolk has worked as an editor and an English teacher, and is an award-winning poet. Her debut children’s book Wolf Hollow is out now. The book is set in western Pennsylvania where Lauren’s family roots run deep. Both of her parents were raised in that area, her mother on a farm and in a family that served as the inspiration for the novel.