Hello my name is Melanie. I am French but have been living in the UK for almost 22 years. I lived in all corners of the UK before settling in the South West near Bristol 16 years ago. I have worked as a secondary school librarian for 20 years, and I also blog at librarymice.com . Earlier this year I completed an MA in Children’s Literature.
Kinfo: Hello Melanie, can you tell us a bit more about your passion for books?
I have always loved reading. I don’t remember being read to, but my mother has always read books, as has my older sister, so it was just part of everyday life. My mother took us to the local library, and once she got back to work I was encouraged to go on my own. I can’t remember what really hooked me into reading, but I do have vivid memories of reading specific books: Le Petit Nicolas, Olga da Polga, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit to name a few. I also recall being terrified yet fascinated by the fairy-tale Bluebeard. Because I tended to read whatever my mother and sister read, I jumped to adult fiction quite young. I really started appreciating children’s literature when I was at university doing my librarianship training. My university library had a room set up like a children’s library and I read my way through many classics I never read or encountered as a child: Little Women, The Secret Garden, Shirley Hughes’ picturebooks etc. This is when my passion for children’s literature truly began.
Kinfo: Do your kids read books? What type of books? Share with us some books they have devoured?
Yes, and no! I have a 14 year-old son and a 12 year-old daughter. My son loved reading when he was little, but he is less interested now. He has always been interested in visual storytelling so loved picturebooks (his all-time favourite has to be Billy’s Bucket by Kes Gray and Garry Parsons) and now loved reading comics . Lately he has really enjoyed Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole series, and really enjoys Ben Davis’ The Private Blog of Jow Cowley series, which is a bit like Diary of Wimpy kid, but for older readers.
My daughter loves reading. She is a Harry Potter superfan, but enjoys all sorts of books. One of her favourites she has read this year is Susin Nielsen’s We’re All Made of Molecules. She was also a big fan of Jaqueline Wilson’s books and adore the Rainbow Fairy books as a beginner reader. I know many turn their noses up at them but they are great for building confidence – each story follows the same formula which comforting to new readers.
Kinfo: How do you help your kids choosing and reading books? Any tip to share?
I think the most important tip I would share is don’t force books onto your children; it is completely counter-productive. Let them take the lead. There are so many books I wish my son would read because I think he’d love them, but I just have to accept that he is just not interested. With my daughter, I suggest and make book piles for her, but she can take them or leave them. What is important is to find what interests your child. Some children prefer information books, and comics, or highly illustrated fiction. Browsing is important – go to the library (if you are lucky enough to still have one), go to the bookshop. Try to not frown or say “that’s too easy for you”. Let them choose one or two books themselves. Then, maybe recommend one too if you find something you know they’d love. But yes, free choice is key, I think!
Kinfo: Tell us your favorite place to shop/choose kids' books?
Unfortunately we don’t have any children’s bookshops in my local ahead so most of my browsing is done in Waterstones and Foyles. We are very lucky both branches in Bristol have got a great children’s team. Being a fan of comics, I love Gosh! in London, which have a great children’s section.
Kinfo: Finally, where can other parents find you?
I blog at Library Mice: librarymice.com
Kinfo: thank you so much Melanie!
Interview realised in July 2017.