World Book Day Tips from Authors and a Competition

5th March 2014 112 Comments

World Book Day is nearly upon us so I’m thrilled to be able to tell you about this fab new initiative to get kids reading: The Biggest Book Show On Earth,  is on-line show compared by CCBC’s Dick and Dom and I’m sure your children will find it as inspirational as mine, it features all these amazing authors and illustrators:

  • James Patterson
  • David Melling
  • Emily Gravett
  • Jill Murphy
  • Jim Smith
  • Lauren St John
  • Terry Deary
  • Martin Brown
  • Alex T Smith
  • Sarah Lean
  • Robert Muchamore
  • Maureen Johnson
Filmed at Stanley Park High School, each of the £1 authors also answer questions submitted from children across the country as well giving an excerpt from their World Book Day book and talking about their inspirations.
To go with this I’ve been sent loads of tips from some of these authors to share with you. Which I’m really excited about as I’m keen to try to finish my novel.
First up  is Lauren St John author of The One Dollar Horse which was one of the best young adult books I read last year:
Tip 1:
One of the first things children will ask an author is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ I always answer: ‘Ideas come from everywhere. Your problem should never be finding ideas. It should be that you have too many.’ Since life is infinitely stranger than fiction, newspapers and magazines are a good starting point. A news item about a stowaway boy or a dog that has turned up alive after two years, for instance, could give rise to any number of storylines.
Tip 2
When I get children to invent stories out loud, something that is as much fun for me as it is for them, I first ask them to create a couple of characters. What do they look like? What type of people are they? What are their interests? Next, we need an Event. Something happens. A volcano, a fire, an alien abduction, a school trip that goes wrong. The characters then go on a journey, which is as much about personal discovery as it is about location. Are they brave? Cowardly? How do they figure out an escape route? Lastly, we need a happy ending. Naturally.
Tip 3
As a child, I was obsessed with reading and I’m convinced that there are no good writers who are not good readers. Forget the Government nonsense about whether or not to read Dickens. Get your kids reading. It doesn’t matter if it’s comic books or JK Rowling or War and Peace. All that matters is that they learn to love reading. Of course, you could always consider Dead Man’s Cove, The One Dollar Horse or my World Book Day short story, The Midnight Picnic!

David Melling
People always ask me what the best writing tip I’ve ever been given is. my knee-jerk response to that question is: do a little each day. It’s very important. Kids often ask me ‘how do you do that?’ when I draw, and it all comes down to a little each day. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument or a sport. You don’t pick up your tennis racquet one day and be volleying, hitting winning shots the next. The more you practice the better you get, and that’s the same with writing and drawing.
I also always keep note and sketchbooks, an idea might come from one simple illustration. I’m constantly drawing and redrawing these characters as they evolve. With Jack Frost, I was very conscious that I wanted to do a proper ‘Once upon a time…’ picture book so there’s no set rule or pattern but I always use the note or sketchbook as a starting point.
Alex T Smith
Some tips for drawing and writing:
Don’t assume that professional illustrators always know how to draw – I had to learn to draw bicycle a couple of years ago. Even pros have to learn and practice!
Always remember that when drawing you aren’t imitating life – your drawings don’t have to be realistic! Claude’s eyebrows are above his head, you wouldn’t see that in real life!
When I’m writing I might do some tiny doodles about how it would work as a book spread to help me keep track of my ideas. I really get going with the pictures when the text is complete. I’m always very keen on the idea that if you can say something with pictures then go for it.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer and an artist?
Yes, always. I’ve always loved books and luckily came from a very bookish family. I’ve also always loved drawing. I can remember the very first picture I drew – I was very very young and I was sitting at the dining table on my mum’s lap and I drew a teddy bear. It was really just a couple of very wobbly circles and a bit of scribble but I knew it was a teddy bear and told my mum exactly what was going on in my picture. From then on I was hooked and have had a pencil in my hand pretty much all the time since then!
Emily Gravett’s Top Five Writing Tips
1) Often I find that just getting to know my character will give me ideas for a story. I begin by writing down and drawing everything I know about them on a sheet of paper.
2) To get a really good resolution for a story I like to brainstorm. To do this write down your challenge or obstacle in the middle of a sheet of paper then as quickly as you can write down as many ways as you can think of to solve your problem.
3) Ending your story – Sometimes it’s worth writing down a few different endings for your story. Some happy, some sad, some funny. Try them all out. Most of the time one of them will leap out at you as the ‘right’ ending.
4) It’s good to write down ideas as you get them (or they tend to vanish). I use my sketchbook, but I also have a box to put more chunky ideas in. Even things that might spark ideas like packaging, buttons etc.
5) Finally, I think it’ important to keep re-reading aloud what you have written. Reading aloud helps you hear the rhythm of your story, and highlights any snaggy areas that need work.
To celebrate World Book Day I have a copy of each of the books to give away to one lucky reader. To enter all you need to do is comment and use the rafflecopter widget, telling me what your all time favourite children’s book is.

Terms and Conditions
The competition officially closes 12th March 2014 mid-day
One entry per household
There is no cash alternative 
The prize comes directly from the promoters 
Editors decision is final
UK entrants only
Winners will be contacted directly, if no response is received within 3 working days the entrant will be disqualified and another winner will be drawn and that person contacted
Claire Walsh

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  • liveotherwise 5th March 2014 at 5:00 pm

    That's a really difficult question, there are so many I like. Today I'll go for the Diddakoi by Rumer Godden.

  • Tracy K Nixon 5th March 2014 at 5:05 pm

    OMG I love loads but recently I have been reading The BFG to my children and they love it (brought back great memories for me too!).

  • MamaMummyMum 5th March 2014 at 5:22 pm

    each peach pear plum x

  • Anonymous 5th March 2014 at 7:14 pm

    The BFG (@bexallum)

  • Suzanne Jackson 5th March 2014 at 7:15 pm

    The Harry Potter series, they're fab x

  • mummy24 5th March 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I have so many – obviously all the Julia Donaldson ones – also love Nick Sharett books and I love fantastic mr fox too!<br /><br />Ashleigh

  • Anonymous 5th March 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl- Kay Broomfield

  • mellysocks 5th March 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Watership Down

  • Kerry Manners 5th March 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Biff, chip &amp; kipper

  • laura banks 5th March 2014 at 8:10 pm

    that would have to be horrid henry

  • LEA D 5th March 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Mr Stink by David Walliams

  • jo 5th March 2014 at 8:17 pm

    The perfect hug

  • Tina Holmes 5th March 2014 at 8:29 pm

    The gruffallo

  • Kerry Charlesworth 5th March 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Enid Blyton The Faraway Tree 🙂

  • The Style Box 5th March 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Oh goodness! That&#39;s a hard choice! Magic Faraway Tree was always a favourite. Love anything by Oliver Jeffers. Harry Potter. Roald Dahl. I can&#39;t pick!!<br />x

  • Kirsten 5th March 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I like The Rainbow Fish. My daughter prefers The Little Somethings

  • Lorraine Tinsley 5th March 2014 at 9:35 pm

    MAtilda by Roald Dahl

  • Zoe G 5th March 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I had loads, especially books by Roald Dahl, Danny The Champion of the World was one of my faves

  • Emma 5th March 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Harry potter series!!

  • katiemay 5th March 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Aw there are so many, but I loved the BFG when I was a child 🙂

  • kelli flanagan 5th March 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Hetty Feather by Jaqueline Wilson

  • Anonymous 6th March 2014 at 12:28 am

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar.<br /><br />Rachel Craig

  • Lisa Sturrock 6th March 2014 at 5:42 am

    Matilda – still love it as an adult

  • Anonymous 6th March 2014 at 9:24 am

    Tiger who came to tea!

  • Ray Dodds 6th March 2014 at 9:28 am

    The cat and the hat

  • Kat Lucas 6th March 2014 at 9:55 am

    Green eggs and ham

  • Sandra B 6th March 2014 at 10:33 am

    The Hobbit

  • Pappers 6th March 2014 at 10:45 am

    Love the Horrid Henry series – they get us all giggling

  • Carol Massey 6th March 2014 at 10:52 am

    the very hungry caterpillar

  • Joanna Fox 6th March 2014 at 11:14 am

    The Gruffalo

  • Jo Hutchinson 6th March 2014 at 11:31 am

    I Houdini by Lynne R Banks

  • Christine Caple 6th March 2014 at 12:20 pm

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

  • Pooky 6th March 2014 at 2:19 pm

    The Magic Faraway Tree is my favourite children&#39;s book.

  • Hannah ONeill 6th March 2014 at 2:37 pm

    The Hungry Caterpillar

  • solfleur 6th March 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Stig Of The Dump (by Clive King)

  • Caroline 6th March 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Alice&#39;s Adventures in Wonderland.

  • clairew137 6th March 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  • abbyed33 6th March 2014 at 8:11 pm

    the wishing powder and all the spot books

  • Bubbles17 6th March 2014 at 8:18 pm

    The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

  • Tammy Tudor 6th March 2014 at 9:54 pm

    chimp and zee

  • Cheryl Kemp 7th March 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Oh well one of my favourites would have to be Julia Donaldsons &quot;The Gruffalo&quot; 🙂

  • Chris 8th March 2014 at 8:04 am

    Whats your favourite childrens book?<br />Jake likes The Very Hungry Caterpillar – but MY favourite is Hans Christian Andersen&#39;s Fairy tales

  • stephen holman 8th March 2014 at 3:59 pm

    the BFG 🙂

  • Isis1981uk 8th March 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I always loved Carrie&#39;s War by Nina Bawdon

  • suzanne cooke 8th March 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Diary of a killer cat by Jeremy Strong.

  • pauline duffy 9th March 2014 at 6:03 am

    I love anything by Roald Dahl 🙂 Looking forward to my daughter reading these 🙂 x

  • MissMelvis 9th March 2014 at 7:55 am

    Room on the Broom – it&#39;s so simple yet so brilliant! x

  • Blake Ahearne 9th March 2014 at 9:51 am

    anything Julia Donaldson

  • tarcsafalvi 9th March 2014 at 3:44 pm

    The perfect hug

  • rugmaker 9th March 2014 at 3:50 pm


  • Helen Grayson 9th March 2014 at 4:33 pm

    The very hungry caterpillar 🙂

  • sheridarby 9th March 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Winnie The Pooh

  • buchanl 9th March 2014 at 5:43 pm

    The magic faraway tree

  • KayeLaFaye 9th March 2014 at 8:31 pm

    The Gruffalo 🙂

  • pepicola 9th March 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Charlotte&#39;s Web

  • Kristy Brown 9th March 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I still like the little red hen

  • Leslie Evans 10th March 2014 at 8:44 am

    The Gruffalo

  • max amos 10th March 2014 at 9:41 am

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • zeenie 10th March 2014 at 11:44 am

    the diary of a wimpy kid books

  • Patricia Avery 10th March 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Oh dear, so many favourites to choose from. I used to love Famous Five and Secret Seven as did my children but as a teacher I lost count of the number of times I enjoyed the Twits with a class :)<br />

  • Karis 10th March 2014 at 2:39 pm

    HArry Potter

  • jo-anne 10th March 2014 at 2:42 pm

    The gruffalos child!!

  • barbie 10th March 2014 at 3:25 pm

    mog the cat

  • Holly Lovatt 10th March 2014 at 3:40 pm

    The BFG

  • soozwales 10th March 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Five Go Off in a Caravan

  • Jennifer Rhymer 10th March 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I love Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume 🙂

  • HelenA71 10th March 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I loved Enid Blyton&#39;s Secret Seven books. My daughter&#39;s favourite books though are probably Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

  • sarahp 10th March 2014 at 6:42 pm

    we love the gruffalo

  • Mickie Bull 10th March 2014 at 7:04 pm

    End Blyton – The Magic Faraway Tree

  • Linda sallie Guest 10th March 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Rock Wars. Muchamore is a brilliant author and this is the start of a new series. I think I am more excited than the kids 🙂

  • ape 10th March 2014 at 7:28 pm

    The Jams Herriot Series

  • kim webster-marsh 10th March 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I absolutely adore The Twits &amp; kids love it too, I don&#39;t think it ever gets old !! x

  • WeeWillieWilkie 10th March 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Dear Zoo 🙂

  • claire wilkinson 10th March 2014 at 9:03 pm

    both are loving charlie &amp; the chocolate factory

  • Jane Middleton 10th March 2014 at 9:05 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • rachael jones 10th March 2014 at 9:09 pm

    <br />Sharing a shell

  • krnries 10th March 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I love Five go to Smugglers Top by Enid Blyton 🙂

  • Lani Nash 10th March 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Anything by Roald Dahl

  • Lollylaus 10th March 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • leighlarkin79 10th March 2014 at 9:50 pm

    We love all of the Julia Donaldson books

  • Dessallara 10th March 2014 at 9:51 pm

    The Gruffalo 🙂

  • diva1977 10th March 2014 at 10:11 pm

    patchwork cat

  • Deborah Bird 10th March 2014 at 10:24 pm

    The Gruffalo!

  • Gillian Hutchison 10th March 2014 at 11:05 pm


  • joanna_kow 10th March 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Winnie the Pooh

  • Ellen Stafford 10th March 2014 at 11:21 pm

    My niece loves The Enchanted Wood books x

  • Rachel Gilbey 10th March 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Milly Molly Mandy

  • taja mckenzie-hughes 11th March 2014 at 12:56 am

    jolly postman

  • lorraine polley 11th March 2014 at 4:26 am

    i love reading james patterson books, but my grandsons favourite book is the lorax by dr seuss

  • tracey gibbons 11th March 2014 at 7:17 am

    demon dentist

  • Hayley Manton 11th March 2014 at 7:43 am

    Roakd Dahl collection

  • Jane Henshaw 11th March 2014 at 8:29 am

    The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

  • Justine Meyer 11th March 2014 at 9:20 am

    She loves all the horrible history books<br />

  • srobbo71 11th March 2014 at 10:19 am

    The Witches by Roald Dahl is fantastic

  • laura avery 11th March 2014 at 10:35 am

    Stig of the dump.

  • Rachel Smith 11th March 2014 at 10:53 am

    Harry potter

  • Ian Murray 11th March 2014 at 11:26 am

    I always liked the famous five as a child.

  • HayleyT 11th March 2014 at 2:15 pm

    All my children love different books at the moment, as they are different ages. My youngest loves the Winnie the Witch books, my older daughter loves Matilda at the moment, and is reading and re-reading it constantly! My son loves the Skulduggery Pleasant Novels x

  • Emily Knight 11th March 2014 at 2:28 pm

    A really tough question! I always loved The Jolly Postman 🙂

  • Rosie 11th March 2014 at 3:16 pm

    The BFG

  • Clare Hubbard 11th March 2014 at 3:31 pm

    The twits

  • Tamsin Dean 11th March 2014 at 3:33 pm

    alwys loved dr seuss

  • Julie Baxter 11th March 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Charlie and the chocolate factory.

  • Erica Price 11th March 2014 at 6:32 pm

    The Snail and the Whale

  • Kirsty Greer 11th March 2014 at 9:00 pm

    The tiger that came to tea x

  • ammaline 11th March 2014 at 9:01 pm

    The BFG

  • Holly Boyd 11th March 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Room on the broom

  • Natalie Crossan 11th March 2014 at 9:25 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Kelly Lain 11th March 2014 at 9:46 pm

    We all love Danny champion of the World. My son even dressed up as Danny for World Book Day.

  • Sandra Foreman 11th March 2014 at 10:11 pm

    the gruffalo<br />

  • Alexandra Blue 11th March 2014 at 10:35 pm

    The Twits

  • Kelly Hirst 11th March 2014 at 11:13 pm

    The BFG <br /><br />Kel Ellen Hirst

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