Annie Barrow

What books did you read when you were a child?
It’s easier to say what I didn’t read. I didn’t read books about rockets. I didn’t read books about heroic youths who somehow ended up saving the day or the country or the president. No nurses. No dying kids. No horses (except Black Beauty). Everything else, I read.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I’ve spent many hours asking myself this very question, and I have many answers. Today, though, I think I’ll be Susan Shaw, a girl who gets in an elevator and goes back in time rather than to the top floor of her apartment building, in Edward Ormondroyd’s Time at the Top.

What is the best thing about reading?
The best thing about reading is that you can find out about things your parents either don’t know or don’t want you to know. It’s also a great way to have other lives without leaving the comfort of your own sofa.

What is your all time favourite book?
Saffy’s Angel. No! The Trolls. No! Harriet the Spy. No! Alfie Lends a Hand. No! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. No! The Penderwicks. No! The Golden Compass. No! Brave Potatoes.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talking to them, listening to them and letting them know that their lives are interesting.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
None, except that everyone in my family read A LOT, which made me feel that books and stories were the most fascinating things in the world.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Until my kids were about 10, I had a policy of reading to them whenever they asked me to. What this meant was that every time they wanted my attention, they got it — and a story too. It was kind of inconvenient, and the house was a mess, but it was worth it.

Annie Barrows is the author of some twenty-odd books for both children and adults. Her works for children include the best-selling Ivy and Bean series for young readers, The Magic Half and its sequel Magic in the Mix for the middle grades, and Nothing for young adults. She is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of the international best-seller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, released in the UK this summer. A second novel for adults, The Truth According to Us, was published in 2015. Her newest book is Ivy and Bean: One Big Happy Family, the eleventh in the series.

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