We spoke to children’s author and illustrator, Lydia Monks, about the importance of Literacy and her memories of school trips.
Lydia Monks is a well-established children’s author and illustrator and is also recognised for her work with author Julia Donaldson. Her own books involve I Wish I Were A Dog, Aaarrggh Spider! and Mungo Monkey. Her latest book Frog Hops Off will be published this spring.
What themes do you think are important to include in children’s fiction?
I don’t really approach a story with a theme in mind. I decide on a character and what they might be like, and then put them in a situation and see how they react. Sometimes a theme develops once the story has got going. I suppose I go for themes that a child will relate to or may have experienced.
How can fiction inspire children to go outdoors and learn outside the classroom?
Children spend a lot of time in classrooms. Any opportunity to go outside is always a bit of a welcome break. My children have Forest School, where they get to spend an afternoon a week in the woods, which they love! Maybe books can be a reminder that there are exciting things to discover outside the classroom.
How important do you think school travel and trips are for children’s development?
School trips are always a treat! Maybe not so much for the teachers! It’s a great opportunity to experience a new environment. I know my children really look forward to any trips they have coming up. I keep finding myself writing about school trips in the Twit Twoo books. It’s easier for me to think up a scenario for a character outside of the classroom. They can have a little adventure all of their own. I suppose that’s the same in real life too! It’s an opportunity for a child to have an adventure!
Can you tell us about a memorable school trip from your childhood?
My most memorable school trip was to France to visit the battlefields. I wasn’t a very confident child, but being with my friends helped me overcome my worries about being away from home for the first time.
I also remember another trip to an adventure park where I got stuck up a very high climbing frame and had to be rescued. That was mortifying!
How do you think schools can encourage children’s enthusiasm about books? How could this be taken outside the classroom?
I think reading time shouldn’t be seen as another lesson. The children do so much in a school day, I think reading time should be a respite from all that learning and testing that they do.
I remember during the summer my teacher would take us outside and read to us while we sat on the grass. That felt special. If reading time is seen as enjoyable, maybe that will help encourage children to read for fun outside of school.
To find out more about Lydia Monks visit www.lydiamonks.com.
Our World Book Day series will involve author Q&As and ideas for where to take your class on a Literacy inspired trip.