Katie Clapham

What books did you read when you were a child?
Lots of Roald Dahl, Anne Fine, Dick-King Smith and Jacqueline Wilson – all authors I’d be excited to read again today! I also loved books that were beautiful to look at, like my mum’s old Arabian Nights, and my illustrated Around the World book or our big DK encyclopedia.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Does everyone say Matilda? That is a good answer. I’ll say Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture the Castle, because I love reading, writing, and I long to live in a castle, even a broken-down one.

What is the best thing about reading?
It’s how you can go anywhere and do anything, all from the comfort of your own favourite chair, with a dog under your feet, a blanket on your knee and a cup of tea to hand. I’d say it can make time stand still, but I always find time goes far too quickly when I’m lost in a good book. I also love how it inspires me to be a better writer myself.

What is your all time favourite book?
I’ve got a different answer for every day of the week, but as you’re asking me on a Thursday and I’ve already mentioned I Capture the Castle I’ll say A Christmas Carol, because it’s so perfectly crafted and clever and memorable and everyone should read it. Tomorrow my answer might be Nicholas by Jean-Jacques Sempe and Rene Goscinny because it’s just SO funny.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I think it’s probably just talking to them, not just when you need to tell them something, but general chat. My daughter is only eighteen months old but I talk to her all the time. Even if it’s just telling her that I’m making the dinner and telling her I’m chopping some potatoes, or listing what we’re going to buy if we’re going to the supermarket. She’s a real chatterbox already so I think it’s working!

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I always loved writing stories and poems in school, and I think it was something that came quite naturally to me. At home I liked to read and draw and colour too, so I don’t think I ever needed much encouragement to pick up a pencil. I remember writing ‘reports’ on an old typewriter and making ‘documents’ to keep in files and playing ‘libraries’ with my books so I could make tickets and use stamps. I think my parents supported me by keeping me well stocked in books, paper and interesting office stationery!

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Thank goodness my daughter is already a book-worm but I think it really helps that we have lots of books around the house so she sees them everywhere. She always wants to look inside. Sometimes she brings them to me and asks me to read them to her, other times she just likes to sit and look at them by herself. Her absolute favourite books are Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton, Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt and all of the Emily Gravett board books; Monkey & Me, Blue Chameleon, Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear, The Odd Egg, Dogs, Wolf Won’t Bite and Matilda’s Cat.

Katie Clapham runs a small bookshop, Storytellers, Inc., with her mum in the seaside town of Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire. Her first book, The Missing Bookshop is out in June 2019 with Stripes Publishing. Katie is also a freelance copy-editor and reviewer.

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