Tom McLaughlin

What books did you read when you were a child?
I was a huge fan of Adrian Mole when I was a kid. For those younger children who may not be familiar with the books, imagine Diary of Wimpy Kid, but set in Leicester in the 80s. They were funny, warm and a bit dark - I loved them.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, he has the best life, all that delicious food, throw in a big nap too and basically you’ve got my dream life.

What is the best thing about reading?
Having space and time to be somewhere else. The great thing about books is that you can go anywhere and do anything you like. We all need to be somewhere different every now and again.

What is your all time favourite book?
That’s a tricky one, it’s like asking me what’s your favourite jelly bean, they’re all pretty brilliant. If I had to choose a kids’ book, I would say Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator if it came to grown-up books, I was a huge fan of 1984. And as for jelly beans, I would say cherry.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Well as an illustrator as well, I would say drawing. I like to think of writing, reading, drawing and creating all part of the same thing, so if reading isn’t as strong as it could be, why not try writing your own, or making a comic?

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I’m dyslexic, so I always found reading tricky, in fact I still do, so it took me a long time to realize that even if you find it hard to read, or make lots of mistakes when you write that that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a voice or a good imagination. Writing can come from drawing, drawing can come from reading.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I have three kids, and they all enjoy books in different ways. One likes the story just as it is and if you get a word wrong or out of place he’ll pick you up on it, another likes you to play with the story and my youngest, well she likes things with elephants in. So here’s a few that my children enjoyed: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Barry Loser, Elmer and occasionally one of mine.

Tom is a former political cartoonist, turned author and illustrator. He’s written and illustrated for Bloomsbury, Egmont, Walker, Puffin, Scholastic and OUP. His latest book The Accidental Rockstar is the 6th in the Accidental book in the series, which has been translated into a dozen languages all over the world.

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