Jessie Burton

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved Roald Dahl – some of my favourites were Matilda, The Witches, The Twits, George’s Marvellous Medicine. I also adored The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – I always loved the idea of pushing back the wardrobe door and discovering a new world.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Matilda! She likes reading, she can levitate pencils and she’s got a true spirit. She manages to be very brainy and very likeable.

What is the best thing about reading?
For me, it’s the opportunity to escape and experience life through a different lenses.

What is your all time favourite book?
I have to say Matilda again! It’s a funny book and a rebellious book. Matilda is so fizzing with intelligence, fire and courage.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Conversation. Talking about the book’ potential realities and integrating the message and the fun of the book into life. It’s very important to continue the conversation once the book is finished!

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
They encouraged my reading more than my writing! We went to the library a lot. With my writing I was always very single minded. But I knew that whatever I wrote, they would always read it and we could have a discussion about it.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I think if you make it part of an everyday routine that really helps. Let the child choose the book, and as you read and reach a natural pause, either explore the accompanying pictures for a chat or talk about the book the next day.

Jessie Burton was born in 1982 and went to school in south London. Her favourite subjects were story writing, sleeping and ice-cream eating. After studying at Oxford University she went on to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She worked as an actress and a PA before her first novel, The Miniaturist, was published. The Miniaturist was translated into 38 languages and has sold over a million copies around the world. Her second novel, The Muse, was published in July 2016 and is also a no.1 bestseller. The Restless Girls is her first book for younger readers.

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