Greg James and Chris Smith

What books did you read when you were a child?

Greg - The first adventures I remember getting carried into another world with were The Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. My niece has just recently got into them too and I’ve never been prouder. Danny Champion of the World was also the first time I remember being genuinely scared and gripped by a story.

Chris - I was lucky enough to grow up in a house full of books, and I ate my way through Just William, The Famous Five, Willard Price books, Nigel Molesworth stories and many others such as The Very Hungry Book Caterpillar.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?

Chris - I think I would be Jeeves in the P. G. Wodehouse stories because I secretly believe I would make an excellent butler.

Greg - I’d like to be Bertie Wooster to Chris’ Jeeves because we make a brilliant team and he’d make sure I stayed out of trouble. Also I, like the real Bertie, am very partial to the ‘old eggs and B.’

What is the best thing about reading?

Chris - I like to think of the brain as a lovely expensive slow cooker in which you make your very own mental soup. The more tasty books you ingest, the richer and more satisfying your soup will be.

Greg - It enlarges your brain and can transport you to the most brilliant places without having to leave your bedroom. Particularly great if you’re lazy, like me.

What is your all time favourite book?

Chris – It’s got to be The Hobbit, although Finn Family Moomintroll is a close second.

Greg - I absolutely adore anything written by P.G Wodehouse as it taught me so much about being creative and inventive with language, so I’d have to go for Thank You, Jeeves.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?

Chris - Find out what they love to do that's practical or artistic and do it together. Then talk about it.

Greg - Get them to be free with their imagination. Come up with silly little stories and tell them that there are no bad ideas and no ideas that are too ridiculous. Writing and drawing ideas down if they’re too shy to speak out loud is a wonderful thing to try with them too.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?

Chris - My mum was particularly passionate about my writing. She encouraged me to write my first story, Where Are the Brandy Snaps?

Greg – My parents were both teachers. They never forced me to read or write anything in particular, but they certainly read to me and acted the stories out - which I LOVED. I can’t wait to be a dad and do the same.

How do you encourage your children to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?

Greg - Reading out loud and making it as fun and joyful as possible. Costumes or face paints are a great idea - anything to bring them to life really helps. Most of all, you should all be enjoying it.

Chris - Both my wife and I made sure our son was read to every night. He's 11 and we still read together. All-time favourite? All Join In by Quentin Blake - it has him crying with laughter.

Greg James is the host of BBC Radio 1’s award-winning Drivetime show, which spawned the podcast that he and Chris do every week. He also presents Sounds Like Friday Night on BBC One, and is in charge of the UK’s Official Chart every Friday on the radio. In his spare time he likes to watch cricket with his dad. Greg also lives in North London.

Chris Smith is an award-winning broadcaster and journalist, best known for presenting Newsbeat on BBC Radio 1. He is also the co-author of Kid Normal and Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes. Chris lives in North London with his wife, their son and a cat called Mabel, who loves soup.

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes, the second in the Kid Normal series, is out now.

Read more author interviews here.

National Literacy Trust   National Literacy Trust © 2020         About us  |  Accessibility |  Legal stuff  |  Competition terms and conditions