BBCYWA writers - what they loved to read

Published on: 09 November 2016 Author: Emily Drabble

We asked a group of teenagers who were all shortlisted for this year's BBC Young Writers' Award about what books they love to read, which books got them started on their reading journey - and why they think reading for pleasure is so important.

BBC Young Writers Award 2016 shortlist

Lizzie Freestone, winner of BBC Young Writers' Award 2016 with 'Ode to a Boy Musician'

Lizzie Freestone

'One of the authors who made me love reading the most was E. Jade Lomax, particularly her book Beanstalk. Beanstalk is possibly my favourite book of all time because of the beauty and precision of the language. What Lomax has done is take a concept that has been used time and time again - a school for heroes - and make it into something new, something that breathes.

'I think reading for pleasure is important because it's a way of understanding other people and the world around you, and a way of learning without trying to, and something to enjoy, something to hold on to.'

Alan Taylor, author of 'Innocence Lost'

Alan Taylor

'For me, what really got me to love books originally was Roald Dahl. Before and after that, I'd been read some children's stories here and there, but none really spoke to me like Dahl's. I read all of his books several times and just loved the adventure, the humour and the silliness of them.

'More than one of his books are about kids who are mistreated by their parents. Yet, he always managed to make them into something that wasn't at all distressing. In my eyes, a child that hasn't read The BFG has really been deprived.

'I think reading is one of the most important things for kids growing up, as it just improves you as a person. Books can develop your character, introduce you to new things, make you laugh, cry, and you can have bonds and connections with people over books.'

Hilla Hamidi, author of 'The Good Son'

Hilla Hamidi

'As a child, the first book series I ever followed religiously was The Lady Grace Mysteries. I suppose it was the compelling detective work of the young Grace that really appealed to me. She was always off on adventures and secretly rebelling against the restrictive society she lived in, and it was definitely inspiring to read. It's also quite an evocative series of historical fiction for children!

'In primary school, I found reading to be very difficult. But something just clicked with me when I got a bit older, and ever since then countless books have made me question so many different things. I think reading is very important, because like other forms of media and entertainment, books are trying to spread some sort of message, and the written word often forms the very basis of the movies and games we enjoy today.'

Rebekah Cohen, author of 'Life In Reverse'

Rebekah Cohen

'I still own the picture books that were my favourite bedtime stories, featuring the likes of The Large Family, A Quiet Night In by Jill Murphy and Little Tiger, I Don't Want to Go to Bed by Julie Sykes. These days, there are so many young adult novels that have taught me so much about what makes a great story. Anna and the French Kiss, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series, Maggie Steifvater's The Raven Cycle - they gave me characters I genuinely cared for.

'Reading for pleasure is so important. For one thing, it can be educational - you get to visit new places without leaving the comfort of your own home and it teaches you so much about people and emotions.'

Topics: Interview, Features

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