Joseph Coelho

What books did you read when you were a child?
There were not a huge number of books in my house growing up, but out of the few we had I remember Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat and Raymond Briggs’ Fungus The Bogey Man.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
It would have to be The Cat In The Hat – I love his zany nature and his ability to create chaos and fun but still be able to, in the end, return everything to an orderly state.

What is the best thing about reading?
Entering another world –for a moment forgetting that you are reading and instead finding yourself transported elsewhere like in a dream and being so totally invested in the world that you do not question your place within it.

What is your all-time favourite book?
This is so hard but I do love The Chronicles of Narnia.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk to them about regularly about their interests and their hobbies, question them and seek their opinion. And at times let them be the expert - get them to teach you something.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Not a massive part – like many working-class households I grew up in a single parent family, with no tradition of higher education. I benefitted hugely from the library summer reading scheme (which my mother did encourage) and my gran gave me her old thesaurus and dictionary which I pored over.

How would you encourage children to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Books with a wide cast of characters, facing a variety of challenges and from a variety of backgrounds. I have recently enjoyed the picture book Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie; it’s about a little girl who loves inventing. Poetry is wonderful to dive into too, and I’d recommend Kate Wakeling’s Moon Juice.

Joseph Coelho has written many plays for young people for all of the top London children’s theatres and beyond. His debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules won the CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award 2015, and his latest poetry collection Overheard In A Tower Block has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. His debut picture book Luna Loves Library Day and non-fiction book How To Write Poems are currently available everywhere books are sold.

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