What books did you read when you were a child?
I read anything I could lay my hand on, really. Lots of Ladybird Books, Enid Blyton and Biggles. But my favourites were The Chronicles of Narnia. I used to read those over and over again.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I would be Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island. It must be wonderful to travel on a real pirate ship and go hunting for treasure, even if you do have to contend with dangerous characters like Long John Silver and Job Anderson. Jim is the narrator of the story. He does heroic things but he never boasts about them. That makes him a real hero in my eyes.
What is the best thing about reading?
It opens doors to wonderful places and situations, real or imagined, and it gives you the chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
What is your all time favourite book?
That’s an easy one. I’ve read some incredible books in my lifetime but The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is king of the hill. I read it every summer on holiday.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Tell and share stories. Oral storytelling is very powerful. It gives you the chance to explore feelings and emotions. You can tell stories from your own life, your own experiences, or you can adapt stories from books to make them your own. Afterwards you can discuss the stories or get the child to retell them.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents were of the generation that valued education above all else. They particularly encouraged my writing. My mother loved nothing better than seeing her sons round the dinner table, writing and drawing. Father would often come home from work with enormous sheets of sugar paper to write on. Sometimes he’d get hold of used calendars and I’d fill the back of them with poems, stories and pictures. It gave me a love of writing that would eventually become my career.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
My nephews and nieces are grown up now but I used to make books a very important part of our lives. We’d visit bookshops and libraries and take our time exploring the possibilities, choosing books and talking about them before making our final selections. We’d discuss the characters, the storylines and even compare the books with the film and television versions. They enjoyed reading adventure stories in particular.
Saviour Pirotta is the author of the Ancient Greek Mysteries series for Bloomsbury. The first title, Mark of the Cyclops, is out now. The second, Secret of the Oracle will be published in October 2017. He also adapts folk and fairytales.
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