What books did you read when you were a child?
Tom Sawyer, Narnia, everything by Michael Ende and Astrid Lindgren, and every adventure novel I could find. I was not too fond of so called ‘girls’ books, but strangely became famous in Germany with books of exactly that genre.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I would be Fox from my Reckless books. Apologies for choosing a character I invented myself, but she is my favourite.
What is the best thing about reading?
That we see the world through the eyes of another human. When I was a child it was the greatest adventure to go to a library and meet so many wild and unusual minds between the pages of their books.
What is your all-time favourite book?
The Once and Future King by T.H. White, but it competes with Steinbeck’s East of Eden.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
To be open for the media our children love to communicate in. Maybe a child doesn’t want to tell a story just in words, but also with music, film, comics, dance…all these art forms need to be understood as the books’ siblings and our children should feel free to choose their way of storytelling.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My father always walked with me to the local library and these walks are some of my most enchanted childhood memories. But though being a book eater I never showed any ambition to write as a child. I wanted to be an astronaut. I always drew and I was an oral storyteller, inventing new Star Trek episodes for my brothers every night. Writers, I believed, were either very old or very dead, but for sure not like me.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I always read aloud to my children or wrote stories for them, which suited both a 5 and a 10 year old to bridge the age difference. They were always my best editors (my daughter still is) while my son loves to be in my books - which he often is. He switched very early on from printed words to audio recordings as he could swing on his pirate rope while listening.
Cornelia Funke is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inkheart trilogy, The Thief Lord and a whole host of popular children’s novels and picture books. Born in Germany, her international breakthrough came with Dragon Rider, which spent 78 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She now lives in California.
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