Mariko Tamaki

What books did you read when you were a child?
My reading habits were a real mixed bag. I started out with Shel Silverstein and Louise Fitzhugh and ended up with V.C. Andrews and Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I’m pretty sure I’m a Harriet the Spy.

What is the best thing about reading?
I love that reading can completely take you over, that it can transport you. Also I love reading anything that makes me laugh.

What is your all time favourite book?
I don’t have a favorite book. David Sedaris and Alice Munro are probably my favorite writers of all time though.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I think engaging kids in conversation, about whatever it is they want to talk about, is really important. Even if that thing is gum.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents were hugely encouraging of my writing. When I was a kid I got a diary every year for my birthday, I had lots of books. I want to add that my parents also let me eat as much cereal and watch cartoons all day every Saturday and I think that also contributed to my development as a writer.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I think it’s tricky, recommending books to kids, because kids have such tastes. I generally recommend Raina Telgemeier’s Drama for young readers, and for older kids I think Gene Yang’s Boxers and Saints is a great book. For little kids I’m a huge fan of Jon Klassen’s books.

Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian writer of comics and prose living in California. Her works include Skim and Caldecott and Printz Honor recipient This One Summer (both with Jillian Tamaki) and the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole. Mariko’s latest is Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! Illustrated by Brooklyn Allen.

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