No matter what the setting, it is always important to support children’s reading and growth through literacy. We had the opportunity to speak to Giles Paley-Phillips (pictured, right), award-winning author and father of two. Giles’ books have been likened to Roald Dahl, through their use of beautiful language and context that develops a child’s learning. During this Q&A, we spoke about how Giles supports literacy and what he has been up to.
How important is storytelling to you, and what do you do involve children in the storytelling process?
When I read my books in schools and at events I always try and get the children to be involved in the process, either by acting out certain aspects of the story, making up sound effects, or just asking simple questions about the text as I go. It really helps to engage them, especially larger groups, and makes the whole thing very inclusive.
At what age do you think children should start hearing and listening to books, and why?
I think as early as possible! We're really lucky these days that there are so many brilliant books for younger children, my kids had board books in their prams, just being able to feel and know what a book is means really helps to in still that love of them.
Layla was a princess
who’d never go to bed.
She didn’t like to sleep at all,
so stayed awake instead.
- Princess Stay Awake
As a father, how do you incorporate reading into your daily life?
We always read to our children at bedtime, and it's one of my favourite moments in the day, just to have that time together to explore stories and to be able to open up discussions about so many other things, it's a really special thing, which I'm very grateful to be able to do.
What do you enjoy most about writing children’s books?
The actual writing bit I find really hard, what I love most is doing events, reading my books in schools and at libraries and just talking books with readers.
On every street in every town,
Maybe next door to you,
Dinosaurs are doing things,
You won’t BELIEVE are true…
- Things You Never Knew About Dinosaurs
Why did you choose to write books for children?
I decided to start writing after our first son, Elijah, was born. I just really felt like I wanted to write something for him, and it just carried on from there.
What are your top tips for engaging children in stories?
I've always tried to write stuff that has classic themes in there, quite a lot of my work is dark, and I draw from the kinds of books I read as a child, Grimm Brothers tales, Hilaire Belloc, and Roald Dahl. I think dark humour always seems to work well.
The story has elements of Roald Dahl's BFG and The Snowman by Raymond Briggs and I'm certain this book will be loved just as much as those classic stories. It's always a joy to read Giles's stories because his characters are refreshingly original and often break the general stereotypes. – Kooky Toon, Amazon about Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball
What is your all-time favourite book?
My all-time favourite children's book is probably Not Now Bernard by Davd McKee, but all-time favourite adult book is probably Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, such a visceral read.
Which of your books was the most fun to write/do you enjoy the most?
Each one has had its enjoyment and pain (writing hurts your head sometimes). I'd have to say it's a book that hasn't been published yet, that I finished a while ago. It's a novel for young adults, and it was just a hugely emotional write, as it is semi-biographical but a book that I've always wanted to write.