What books did you read when you were a child?
Strangely, I don't remember. I know I loved having books around me – once went to a jumble sale and came home with an armful of hard-backed old novels I can't believe I ever read. I think I sniffed the book-smell of their pages.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I'd like to be Snufkin, the carefree wanderer from the Moomin books by Tove Jansson. I wouldn't be, of course. Real Snufkins never think about it; they just are!
What is the best thing about reading?
Having that private place inside the whole world of a book, which can be huge even when it's there inside you in the corner of the room. And the feeling that just by being a reader, you are helping to make that secret place more real.
What is your all time favourite book?
The Moomin books, if I can count the whole series as one book. You can start reading them from about the age of eight, then read them every five years for the rest of your life, and find new thoughts and feelings in them every time.
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. No, even more important than that – listen. Just talking on its own without listening too is just being a bore. Good parents listen even when their children aren't actually speaking – listening to the things we say without words.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My father had a notebook where he wrote out poems he liked. He never really talked about this, but I could see how special it was to him... and every now and then he read one out (and I still remember them now).
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories... and then asking them the question, 'If you were writing another story like this, what would it be...?'
Philip Gross writes for adults and young people. Off Road To Everywhere won the CLPE Award for Children’s Poetry 2011. The King in the Car Park, a schools cantata with composer Benjamin Frank Vaughan about the re-discovery of Richard III, was performed in Leicester Cathedral. He has visited schools for thirty years, taught in several universities and published ten novels for young people, including Marginaliens and The Lastling. A new poetry collection that plays serious games with the ideas of science, Dark Sky Park, comes from Otter-Barry Books, 2018.
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