Ben Brooks

What books did you read when you were a child?
I tended to buy as many cheap books as I could from jumble sales and fetes - and I wasn’t choosy - so they ended up being about everything from identifying trees to polar expeditions. My favourites though were the Narnia books, Harry Potter, Edge Chronicles, and Living Dangerously by Sir Rannulph Fiennes.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Lyra, or anyone on the side of good from His Dark Materials because they get to have daemons around. I’m quite scared of people but I can get lonely quickly, so having a perpetual companion that always made sense to you would be nice.

What is the best thing about reading?
Being able to pack whole lives and other worlds into brief moments between chores. You don’t have to just sit there eating Weetabix in the morning, you can sit there eating Weetabix and wandering through a white night in St Petersburg.

What is your all time favourite book?
It changes every week. There’s a book called ‘I Remember’ by the poet Joe Brainard which makes me very sad every time I read it, and I read it at least once a year.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Not having children, I don’t feel wildly qualified to answer this. I suppose not pushing them toward any one type of communication, but letting them discover for themselves how they prefer to interact with the world.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
The best thing my parents ever did to encourage my writing skills was to turn of the internet at 10pm. That way, when I was supposed to be asleep, I wasn’t wasting time online. I was writing stories on the computer instead.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I have two younger siblings, 11 and 13, and if I want them to read something, I talk about it within earshot of them, and when they ask about it, I say ‘maybe you can read it when you’re a bit older.’ If I said they couldn’t read the very hungry caterpillar until they were twenty, they’d probably run directly to their school librarians and ask for copies.

Ben Brooks is the author of the international bestsellers Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different and Stories for Kids Who Dare to Be Different. His new book, The Impossible Boy, features an unimaginary friend, talking snowwomen, and hot ice-cream.

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