What books did you read when you were a child?
As a child I read many adventure books such as Salgari’s swash-buckling stories of Sandokan and Verne’s Michele Strogoff, and the moving tales of Sans Famille and Heidi. I was also a voracious reader of comics, and I hoarded collections of my favourite characters, such as Zagor and Alan Ford.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I’d probably be the slightly naughty and rebellious Max of Where the Wild Things Are.
What is the best thing about reading?
It makes you think about different realities and keeps you in constant communication with your own imagination.
What is your all-time favourite book?
My favourite adult book is Dante’s Divine Comedy. I once worked with Zagor’s illustrator Marcello Toninelli on a translation of his comic-strip adaptation. My favourite children’s book is Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, the perfect adventure story.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Encourage them to write stories. As a child I competed with my brother in creating small journals and magazines for our parents, full of original stories and illustrations. This sparked a lifelong love of reading and writing in both of us.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
The above-mentioned journals and magazines were bought in cash by our parents. That was a great incentive and made us very prolific writers early on.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
We spend a great amount of time with our children reading books. Obviously, since they were born in the UK, we tend to read books in English. We have gone through a wide spectrum of titles, from Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz, to children’s classics (Sherlock Holmes, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Oliver Twist) and more recent books such as Lauren St John’s Marlin Mysteries and Robin Stevens’ crime series, which includes Murder Most Unladylike. Reading is an important part of our children’s daily routine, and we have encouraged them to create their own library of books.
Alessandro Gallenzi is a prize-winning translator, a poet, a playwright and a novelist. He adapted and expanded The Adventures of Pipi the Pink Monkey, out now.
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