This year, World Book Day launched its #ShareAStory campaign to encourage story-sharing, raise awareness, spark imaginations and create readers for life.
We asked some of our children’s authors to share their own stories about an important book in their lives, and how it inspired a lifelong love of reading and their drive to create new stories for future generations.
For Alex Milway, author of the Hotel Flamingo series, it is Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpugo that stands out. ‘It has islands and adventure, mystery, a little bit of magic, and of course, narwhals! Pretty much everything I would go on to love later in life.’
Sophie Green, author the Potkin and Stubbs detective trilogy, was inspired at an early age by Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. ‘Long before I could read the words, I could follow the pictures, whisper the rhymes and look through the pages by myself, whenever I wanted to. It was where it all began, the key to a world of stories and the courage to explore it.’
For S.T.A.G.S and D.O.G.S author M.A. Bennett, ‘reading C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe made me want to write. When Lucy went through the wardrobe door into another world, I realised that every book cover is a door to somewhere else, and I really wanted to take readers on that journey.’
As a young child Robert Muchamore, now an author of numerous bestselling fiction books and graphic novels, was inspired by Jeff Brown’s classic story Flat Stanley. ‘When I was six, I picked out a copy at the library. I was so proud that I got through seventy pages all on my own, but I wound up in a fight with my big brother, who said it wasn’t a “proper,” book because it had pictures in it!’
The Boy Who Grew Dragons series author Andy Shepherd was also inspired by Flat Stanley alongside Stig of the Dump – two books that really sparked her love of reading, and eventually her passion for writing. ‘I loved the idea that something magical could happen even on the most ordinary day in an ordinary place. That possibility of magic being out there waiting to be found was wonderful. And it definitely influenced the kinds of books I loved to read – and eventually to write.’
For The Time Travel Diaries author Caroline Lawrence, ‘the first and most influential book in my life was The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss. I loved the wonderful illustrations, the gratifying rhymes and most of all the delightfully subversive plot. Were there ever any better antiheroes than Thing One and Thing Two?’
Deirdre Sullivan, author of Perfectly Preventable Deaths (acclaimed as ‘the novel the Sabrina reboot wishes it could be’), is most of all grateful for her childhood library. ‘I was so lucky to have a gorgeous library near me with a well-stacked children’s section. I have so many happy memories of discovering new stories there, and I still love to visit whenever I’m home. Two books that stick out in particular for me are Roald Dahl’s classic Matilda and Tom McCaughren’s Run Swift, Run Free.’
For Laura Dockrill, it was Jacqueline Wilson’s Tracey Beaker series that made her a reader. ‘Wilson’s writing, and her iconic character Tracy, showed me that it was possible to write how you talk. To be human and relatable. That there was beauty and warmth in true life. I found a real friend in that book.’