Rachel Rooney

What books did you read when you were a child?
I would read anything that came my way, from the list of ingredients found on the back of cereal packets at breakfast to the battered comics left in the doctor’s waiting room. I particularly enjoyed fairy tales, poetry and classic novels such as The Borrowers.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
These days I like to create and live inside the characters in my own poetry but as a child I had a fondness for Sara Crewe in A Little Princess. She was brave, kind and imaginative and, despite the difficulties she faces, manages to create for herself a happy ending.

What is the best thing about reading?
It depends on what I’m reading. For me, a good novel is a portal to a parallel world that I can enter and exit from the safety of my chair, by simply opening or shutting a book. A good poem will give me a refreshing or comforting take on the world that I live in. A good recipe will make me a better cook.

What is your all time favourite book?
Impossible question! I very quickly forget the content of most books that I read once finished - I simply remember if I’ve enjoyed them. For me, reading is very much an ‘in the moment’ experience.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk to up to them, not down. Pose questions and listen to their answers. Encourage clarification and extension of their ideas. Make them laugh through language. Play with words. If children learn that words give power, autonomy and amusement they are more likely to use them as tools.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Nothing specifically. For me, reading and writing was a very private affair. However, we did have many books in our house. My parents were consistent readers and valued literature. If I complained of being bored as a child my mother would give me the choice of washing the kitchen floor or going to the library. I always went for the second option.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
My children are well past the age of reading to them but when they were young I particularly enjoyed the picture book stage. Some of my favourites included John Burningham’s Would You Rather, Allan and Janet Ahlberg’s Each Peach Pear Plum and Dame Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary.

RacheI Rooney’s poetry collection The Language of Cat won the CLPE Poetry Award and was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Her second collection My Life as a Goldfish was shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2015.

Her forthcoming book A Kid in My Class, illustrated by Chris Riddell is published by Otter-Barry Books in August 2018. Rachel is a favourite with The Children’s Bookshow, a charity that inspires children with a love of reading through an annual programme of theatre performances.

On 11th October 2018 she will perform at the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton.

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