A. L. Kennedy

What books did you read when you were a child?
I really did read anything: cereal boxes, DC and Marvel comics, classics like The Secret Garden, The Hobbit, The Wind in the Willows, The Phantom Tollbooth... and a biography of Napoleon. I didn’t understand it, but I knew he was short and I was short so that bonded us in some way.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Captain Ahab maybe. Aslan. Cat Woman. The Invisible Person.

What is the best thing about reading?
It’s too many best things to number. It is all the best things and also a doorway to all the best things: practice for everything you might like or have to face, company, fun, time travel, body swapping, adventures, everything.

What is your all time favourite book?
That really varies and I wouldn’t like to say in case the others got jealous, because I love thousands of them.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Speak to them, answer their questions, ask them questions, explore things together, make up stories together, go on adventures together.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My mum was a teacher so she taught me to read when I was 4. I can’t remember how I learned to write – it just happened. My handwriting is terrible, though. After Year 5 everyone went on holiday and all clearly got a memo saying ‘we are now doing joined up writing’, but I had no idea. So when my Year 6 teacher yelled at me for my baby writing, I had to invent something joined up during the course of an afternoon.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I only have godchildren, but they loved being read to and loved making up stories about the books, playing games about characters and acting things out. You can have fun with any book really – either it’s wonderful, like The Velveteen Rabbit – they loved that – or it’s awful and you can invent other stories using the illustrations, or other things the characters could have done if they were being sensible.

Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure by A. L. Kennedy and Gemma Correll has been shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies). To vote for your favourite book, vote on the Lollies website, www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Lollies PopJam channel. Voting is open until 14th December so be quick!

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