Simon Mole

What books did you read when you were a child
I used to love Asterix and Tintin. I remember excitedly going to the library each week to fill up my ticket with as many of them as I could.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
When I was a child I wanted to be Snufkin from The Moomins. He’s an easygoing carefree wanderer who plays harmonica. I used to think I was like him, but looking back perhaps I loved him so much because in reality I was always such a careful and sensible little guy!

What is the best thing about reading?
See above! Reading allows us to imagine ourselves into other situations, personalities, and worlds. Over time we then come to understand those other things, and if we are moved to we can even adapt ourselves or our surroundings as a result.

What is your all time favourite book?
Another huge influence on me growing up were the Calvin and Hobbes books – I used to love how they were so much fun, but also managed to create some really touching moments and explore important issues and ideas. Also, I was a pretty well behaved child at home and so to read about someone who took such delight in being the opposite was a real thrill!

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
At home we talk about what we’ve been doing in the day. This might be about who we’ve seen and where, what made us laugh, or even any TV we’ve watched. Both my children are under five, so I find that making fun and creative conversations part of our day to day life more effective than consciously trying to have time set aside for learning.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
HUGE! From a young age my mum and I would improvise nonsense rhymes, tell silly stories on train journeys, and make up our own versions of the lyrics to songs. So much of what I enjoy about writing now can be traced back to the fun I had before I could actually write, in the sense of putting pen to paper.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
We read every night before bed, and we go to the library regularly. As well as picking a few books that I think they might like, from a very young age I’ve supported them to make choices themselves. Developing interests and tastes feels important. This does mean that I’ve read a lot more books on insects and bugs in the last few months that I would have chosen to personally, but I never have to persuade my son to pick up a book because he wants to find out more about the ones he’s chosen.

Acclaimed poet and theatre-maker Simon Mole has shared stages with John Cooper-Clarke, Kate Tempest and Simon Armitage.

Since becoming a father Simon has written increasingly for young people. He has over ten years’ experience using rap and poetry and is a passionate believer that poetry can help anyone grow in self-belief, discover the power in their own voice, and think about the wider change that voice might bring about.

Simon’s YouTube channel is home to his popular interactive poetry tutorials, which are used by thousands of teachers, parents, and children across the world.

2019 will see the release of Kites, Simon’s first children’s book, published by Frances Lincoln (Quarto).

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