Kathleen Benner Duble

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved The Secret Garden and Little Women – any book with a strong female protagonist. I also read Thomas Costain, Anya Seton and Taylor Caldwell.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Jo from Little Women. She always wanted to be a writer, and she pursued that passion with all she had in her. I loved her strong personality and her humor.

What is the best thing about reading?
There are so many wonderful things about reading! It can take you to other worlds and give you a respite from this one. It can inform you without being boring. It can open your eyes to other ways of thinking. It expands your mind but also softens your heart. If there is any downside to reading, I haven’t found it yet!

What is your all time favourite book?
For children, it’s Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I love the images in this book and the lyrical quality of the writing. For adults, it’s Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk to them a lot. Don’t be shy about using a complicated vocabulary. When a child runs across a word they are unfamiliar with, encourage them to look it up themselves to discover its meaning. If they hate reading, at least try to get them to read the news headlines every day because the only way to improve their vocabulary and their ability to write well is by reading. Keeping a journal is a great way to improve a child’s writing skills. If you are going on a vacation, have them write a daily travelogue and email it to grandparents or friends.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My mother and my grandmother read to me frequently. We also went to the library on a weekly basis and were encouraged to take out as many books as we liked. Their love of reading and their support of me in this area definitely helped my writing. I was given a diary when I was younger and I wrote in that frequently (although my parents were never privy to those innermost thoughts – at least I don’t think they were!) And my mother was going back to college as I grew up, so seeing her writing papers and taking an active interest in new things encouraged me to do the same.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
We always had three books going at once in our household – a book each of my kids was reading on their own, one I was reading to them aloud and one we listened to on tape. Different skill sets were necessary for the comprehension of each format and I think it helped hone their reading and listening skills. We read aloud all of the Harry Potter books – because we ALL loved them in spite of the difference in my two girls’ ages. And we listened to Odds Bodkin reading the Odyssey and With a Twinkle in Your Eye - anything by Odds Bodkin is lovely to listen to.

Kathleen Benner Duble had sixteen car accidents before she was twenty-one. Being an at-home writer keeps her from hitting the road (or anyone else)! She is the author of nine books for children. Her newest novel, Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice is out now.

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