Tony Robinson’s tips

Tony Robinson is a children’s author, TV presenter and actor. His new series Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders has just been launched with Romans and Egyptians, and Greeks and British will be coming in the autumn.

Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I read everything – the ingredients on sauce bottles, the boring bits in newspapers, bus tickets, anything…

Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: Odysseus – he was small, crafty, brave and got loads of girls.

Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: You can do it in your own time, at your own pace and you can stop and start when you like.

Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: Half Magic by Edward Eager, but it was written in the 1050’s and maybe it wouldn’t seem as funny now as it did then.

Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Without doubt, telling them stories. My love and understanding of history came directly from my and dad’s tales about the second world war and their own childhood.

Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: The person who influenced me most was Richard Curtis. I hardly wrote at all until I was in my mid 30s. I’d left school with 4 O levels and didn’t think I was smart enough to write but Richard had enormous confidence in me. We wrote three books together and that gave me the courage to start writing on my own.

Q: How do you encourage young children to read?
A: I think that kids who live in a house where reading is a central part of life have an enormous advantage. On the other hand, I think it’s best when the ability to read isn’t seen as a dreadful big deal, some kind of heavy weight which you have to lift if you want to earn your parents approval. If kids understand how useful reading can be then by and large, they’ll come to it when they are ready.

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