Sara Gillingham

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved books about regular kids and their inner worlds and thoughts - I preferred that to fantasy books. Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and L. M. Montgomery were some of my favourite authors.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I am a lifelong fan of Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry's books. He always seems to have a lot of fun, and only needs to wear one sock and shoe! Matching socks are really hard to find in my house.

What is the best thing about reading?
Getting lost in another world and connecting with a character! Something I love about reading non-illustrated books is being able to paint the pictures in my mind. 

What is your all-time favourite book?
My favourite book changes all the time! Right now, it is PAX by Sarah Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen. It deals with war in a poetic, beautiful, relatable way. Plus, it is a mesmerizing story, the kind you can't put down.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk with them, and really listen to what they have to say. 

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I'm an artist and designer first and foremost, and my parents, and extended family (especially my grandma) always asked me to do 'art jobs' like making signs, making cards and gifts out of paper. Even though these jobs were likely not critical to our family life, the family always made me feel like my creativity was really important and should be put to use!

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
We have always had a lot of books around the house, and try to avoid too much screen time - so books can become the primary form of entertainment. We love reading longer classics with our children. Lately, we've been reading Where the Red Fern Grows and The Secret Garden. The added bonus of older books is that they offer interesting history lessons and discussion points, about how people’s lives and views have changed over the years.

Sara Gillingham is an award-winning art director and designer. Her book Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes is the first ever volume of nautical codes for children and is out now.

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