Tony Dallas's tips

Tony Dallas is a storyteller and writer whose unique blend of interactive storytelling has inspired children, parents and teachers all over the country to make stories come alive. Tony also runs poetry slam and writing workshops with children of all ages.

"Stories are the veins of life. The stories we tell ourselves and others are the growth of our personalities and being. I believe everyone has a story to tell and all we have to do is listen."

Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I read the classics, The Gingerbread Man, Hansel and Gretel, Rumplestiltskin. Thinking about the last two now they were very scary but as children we seemed to enjoy that.

Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: Aladdin. He always went on great adventures, he was always the hero and the thought of having your very own genie who granted you any wish you wanted was too much to bear.  I always made my last wish one that granted me another three.

Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: You can be whatever you want to be.  Travel wherever you want to travel and learn whatever you want to learn.

Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: Giraffes Can't Dance.  An awkward looking Giraffe learns to dance with the help of someone a zillion times smaller than he is. A very colourful book that shows the beauty and strength of spirit and friendship.

Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Talk to them constantly.  Converse over dinner, bath time, when changing nappies. If children are watching television try to make sure it’s something that you can talk about afterwards. Allow children to ask as many questions as they like, a child that is used to asking questions and receiving answers will not be frightened to do so when needed.

Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: My parents came from Jamaica, therefore new how difficult it was to get a decent education. They frequently commented at how much better the schools system in England was and the importance of getting a good education. They encouraged me to read and write and always made sure there were plenty of stories from ‘back home ‘ to keep us satisfied.

Q: How do you encourage your children to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: My children are pretty much adults now but when they were younger I’d read them the Gingerbread Man, the Hungry Caterpillar, Goldilocks and The Three Bears and sing songs.  If I had grandchildren I’d encourage them to read picture books so they could use their imagination to create sounds and other dialogue with the pictures, allowing them to invent stories within the stories.

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