Sue devoured fairy tales and detective stories as a child and became the family story teller. She taught for many years before giving that up to write full time.
We asked Sue to give us her thoughts on encouraging children to read and write – and crucially on how to help children to enjoy these activities.
Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Listen. Give them time and your full attention when they speak, and consider what they have to say.
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: My father read aloud to the whole family, especially from his favourite poets: Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg and Ogden Nash. This trained our ears to language and rhythm. My mother’s motto was “make it yourself”, so my sister and I designed our own greeting cards and wrote the verses to go inside. Whenever we were sick in bed, she would give us paper and encourage us to write letters to friends of the family. She also bought us each a diary with a little lock and key. We played word games at the dinner table.
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: I have no grandchildren other than my readers, but if I did, I would take them to visit a good children’s bookshop - even if we had to take a day trip to another town to find one - where they could soak up the atmosphere and choose books of their own. If I saw them often enough, I would try to read a few chapters to them each time from some wonderful, long book such as The Hobbit, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, or The Tale of Despereaux.
Sue Cowing has just published her debut novel, which is bold, crazy and a little bit creepy. Find out more at www.usborne.com/drog.
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