Jack Cheng

What books did you read when you were a child?
I read basically every Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on. I was also really into Matt Christopher’s series of sports books which was published here in the US, particularly The Kid Who Only Hit Homers.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Buck from Call of the Wild. Or pretty much any animal character, really.

What is the best thing about reading?
That it encourages empathy, and can place you in the in the mind of someone whose life and experiences may be entirely different from yours.

What is your all time favourite book?
The Little Prince! I read it probably once a year, and each time I do, I find something new to love about it.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Encouraging children to reflect on their thoughts and emotions. So much of communication, I think, is the act of making those pre-verbal things verbal, and it starts with a basic awareness of what’s happening inside.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I was a rather self-motivated kid — I’d naturally go off and do things I was interested in, including writing. I think my parents recognized this and gave me ample room to follow my passions independently.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I don’t have children yet, but if I did, I’d try to expose them to a wide variety of authors, genres, and books, so that they can find what’s right for them.

Jack Cheng was born in Shanghai and grew up in Michigan. His new book, See You In The Cosmos, is his first novel for young readers and is out now.

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