Miriam Halahmy

What books did you read when you were a child?
​I loved books about children who went on adventures especially in the great outdoors. I grew up in London and I longed for the freedom of the countryside Once I found an author I liked, I read everything they wrote -Frances Hodgson Burnett, E. Nesbit, End Blyton, Richmal Crompton to name a few.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
​​I would love to be Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe not only because I admire her courage and curiosity but because my all-time favourite thing would be to have tea with Mr Tumnus.

What is the best thing about reading?
​Losing myself in the fictional dream until you realise its dark outside and you haven't eaten for hours and you have to make yourself step back into the real world to cook the dinner.

What is your all-time favourite book? 
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I received a hard back copy of the book as a school prize when I was nine and I've read it probably a hundred times. I love the depiction of Yorkshire, the grumpy children who gradually blossom and learn to love life and above all the wonderful garden. An excellent read.​

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
​Talking to children is just as important for reading and in fact underpins the development of reading skills. Talking about everyday things, telling jokes, making up silly songs, imparting information, sitting and watching TV together and talking about the programmes - the possibilities are endless and essential for all children.​

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
​I had wonderful parents who encouraged me in all aspects of learning. For my tenth birthday they bought me a beautiful bureau to write on with a lock and key to keep my notebooks safe. I kept it until I left home and still miss it today.​

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
​I have a toddler grandson. He spends one day a week with me and has favourite picture books in my house. Sometimes we read the same book ten times in one day. He loves pop up books, flap books and books with furry bits to stroke. I love any book he loves.

​Miriam Halahmy writes novels, short stories and poetry. She likes to write about ordinary people who find they can do extraordinary things.  Her new book The Emergency Zoo is out now.

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