The next six months and reading with your baby

Published on: 07 August 2016 Author: Cressida Cowell

The incomparable author and illustrator Cressida Cowell, creator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once universes, became our fourteenth Writer in Residence back in 2016. In this blog Cressida introduced herself and her plans as Writer in Residence.

Cressida Cowell

Over the course of the next six months I'm going to be talking about the quest I have been engaged in for the past 18 years.

The quest to continue to encourage 2016's children to read for pleasure with excitement and wonder just like I did when I was a kid.

Why is it so important that books survive and children and adults read for pleasure? After all we have films, and television, and they provide wonderful stories for children and adults, I love films and television.

There are many reasons:

  • A wealth of statistical evidence shows that a child who reads for pleasure has better life chances is likely to be richer regardless of their education or social background.
  • Reading encourages empathy.
  • Reading encourages creativity, and we're particularly good at that in this country.
  • The creative industries make over 80 billion pounds a year for Britain.

However the most important reason for me is FOR THE JOY OF IT. Reading a book with your kid that you are both enjoying is an experience that will enrich both your lives. Human beings are communicative and creative, and reading and writing, expressing yourself and telling your own story, doing all these things FOR PLEASURE are joyous experiences that lie at the heart of being human.

What you can expect from my residency

How I write my books with today's children in mind, to try and get them reading for pleasure. I'll have a blog on the design of the book and why I think that is important for today's visual generation, and writing books to be read aloud.

I'm going to L.A. in November to look at how they're getting on with the third How to Train Your Dragon movie and I'll be blogging from there, talking about how my books were made into movies. I'm planning to interview other authors and illustrators discussing our writing and artistic processes in the hope that it will inspire potential writers and creators as well as readers out there.

But my main focus is going to be on practical advice and tips on how to get children of all ages (and adults!) reading for pleasure.

My first tip is... It's August, and the summer holiday is a great time to get kids reading. Check out The Summer Reading Challenge... I found this very effective for my son Xanny. He loved the challenge of reading six books in one summer, and it got him into the library and choosing books in a fun and interactive way.

I'm going to begin at the beginning. My first video blog will be about reading with your baby. I'll be offering advice as I go...

What To Read After... How To Train Your Dragon

Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Find out more