What books did you read when you were a child?
I read anything and everything! I was a real bookworm – and still am. I loved Enid Blyton: The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, the St Clare’s titles… I also loved pony books, especially the Jinny series by Patricia Leitch. And then the classics: Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables… I could go on and on!
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I would like to be Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. She is clever, brave and a rule-breaker – plus I would love to have a daemon like Pantalaimon.
What is the best thing about reading?
The best thing about reading is escaping to another world, while also learning universal truths about this world.
What is your all time favourite book?
It is impossible to choose my all-time favourite book! But Tess of the D’Urbervilles is definitely up there.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Have proper conversations with your child – which means listening to them, not just talking at them.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents always encouraged my love of books, for example by taking me to the library every Thursday and leaving me in bookshops for hours when we went on holiday! I think reading widely is the key to writing well.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I would recommend reading all the children’s books I have mentioned above, plus The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, The Adventures of Br’er Rabbit and, of course, Harry Potter.
Rachel is a travel writer for the Guardian newspaper. Her new book is Maps of the United Kingdom, an illustrated guide to the highlights of the British Isles.
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