Writer in Residence: Smriti Halls
Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer or Illustrator in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books.
Our current Writer Residence is Smriti Halls. In the role, Smriti will concentrate on using books to help children navigate tricky times and new experiences, whether that’s transitioning back to school after lockdown, solving friendship difficulties, getting to know a new sibling or thinking about some of the challenges that face our world.
Smriti Halls is an award-winning, critically acclaimed children’s author, published in more than 30 languages worldwide. Her books include #1 bestseller I Love You Night and Day, I’m Sticking with You, Elephant in My Kitchen and The Little Island. With a cast of characters as varied as mischievous monsters and disgruntled geese, she explores relationship and identity; the personal and the political; how it feels to be in your own skin — and in someone else’s. Her books, often fast-paced and funny or lyrical and tender, are always full of heart and hope and speak to the child in all of us,
Her forthcoming picture book Rain Before Rainbows (illustrated by David Litchfield) has been made available ahead of publication in partnership with Save the Children as a free e-book to support their work with families most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Smriti works widely with children and adults in schools, libraries, festivals, bookshops and prisons to bring a love of reading and stories to the widest possible audience. She lives in London and is also published as Smriti Prasadam-Halls.
Speaking about being appointed as BookTrust's Writer in Residence, Smriti says:
'I am honoured and excited to be joining Booktrust as Writer in Residence from Sept 2020- March 2021. I have long admired the essential work that Booktrust does to get books into the hands of the very youngest readers, to engage parents, teachers and carers to build young readers and to effect positive change in the book world. It is a tremendous privilege to be part of the charity in this way.
I begin my residency during a period of uncertainty and transition for us all – a time when we have never needed books more. As a reader and a writer, I believe utterly in the power of books and stories to transform lives, to build bridges, to rebuild hearts, to give us the emotional language to negotiate the trickiest of situations and to bring hope and change in the world. In my role as writer in residence I’ll be encouraging us all, both children and adults, to find new, meaningful and resonant ways of engaging with books and bringing them to life… helping the words leap off the page and right into our lives… and helping us to inspire a new generation of children to find their books for life.'
Relive Smriti's storytime fun
During her time as Writer in Residence, Smriti decided to brighten up a lockdown half-term with a fun live storytime!
She was joined by Sarah McIntyre and Axel Scheffler for the event, which saw all three of them sharing their books.
Smriti read Elephant in My Kitchen, while Sarah treated us to Don't Call Me Grumpycorn and Axel gave a fabulous rendition of The Smeds and The Smoos.
You can relive all the fun by watching the video!
A young boy is rather perturbed when he discovers an elephant in his kitchen, munching her way through the chocolate biscuits. What's she doing there and how can he get rid of her? The important environmental message of this book is delivered in an accessible manner, and children are sure to delight in the cheeky animal antics.
Bear and Squirrel are best friends - but Squirrel feels like she needs a bit of space of her own. This adorable rhyming book about the ups and downs of friendship is pitched perfectly for 3-5 year olds who may be negotiating new friendships.
The message here is that compassion for others and strength in togetherness is what makes us thrive. The Little Island may raise as many questions as it answers, but that’s precisely why global ideas should be introduced to children at such a young age.
Little Monster claims to be sweet, but is proving to be anything but! Children will love the naughty monster snatching presents and hogging sweets, and parents will delight in reminding them not to be like Little Monster if they don’t want to end up feeling silly!
Previous Writers in Residence
Previous writers to take up the post include Matt Haig, Laura Dockrill, Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell and Patrick Ness – see what fun things they all got up to during their time in residence.
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Fun at home
Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.