Nicola Colton

What books did you read when you were a child?
The very first book I took out of the library was Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl when I was five. I absolutely loved it and it was the beginning of my love of Roald Dahl’s writing and Quentin Blake’s illustrations.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Matilda. She is fearless, kind, smart, always remains true to herself and is passionate about books. Despite being surrounded by negative influences like her parents and Miss Trunchbull she has a strong moral compass and a very positive outlook.

What is the best thing about reading?
I think the best thing about reading is that it allows you to step into a character’s life and to see things from their point of view. I think reading has the power to make people more compassionate because it opens your mind to different perspectives.

What is your all time favourite book?
My favourite book as a child was The Twits. It’s so witty and delightfully disgusting. As an adult one that I have returned to many times is The Electric Michaelangelo by Sarah Hall.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I think listening to your children is really important, so is encouraging them to share their ideas and opinions so they become more confident at speaking and communicating their ideas.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My dad is a natural storyteller and taught me how much fun it is to use your imagination. Browsing bookshops and libraries was a big part of my childhood as both my parents are avid readers.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I don’t have any children yet but I think bringing them to a bookshop or library is a great way to introduce them to reading. Let them soak up the atmosphere, browse and discover books for themselves. For younger children I love You must bring a Hat and I’m a Girl!. For older children Witch Born is a really compelling, magical read with a brilliant heroine.

Nicola is an Irish children’s book illustrator and author. She lives in Bristol with her husband and they hope to be proud cat owners very soon. Her new book series Jasper and Scruff is publishing with Stripes on 7 March.

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