'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Author Interview: Jeannette Rowe

Babies Love Books!

We're thrilled to welcome author Jeannette Rowe to Kids Book Review. To say that Jeannette has written many books for children is an understatement, and her latest role is as an ambassador for the Victorian Government's Babies Love Books campaign, part of the Young Readers Program. You can see more of Jeanette's work at jeannetterowe.com.au

Tell us a little about you: what’s your background, your story? I started out as a primary school art teacher and curriculum writer. I have been writing and illustrating children’s books now for over 20 years, all from the same location – my studio by the sea. My drawings evolved once my daughter was born in 1995. Because I wanted to create books for my daughter, I began drawing in a more bright and bold style to accommodate my daughter’s love of bright colours and bold shapes.

How long have you been writing? 20 years.

What inspired you to write for children? I began as an illustrator creating picture books for children because I have always loved drawing, writing for me came much later. At first I illustrated for other writers like Paul Jennings and Duncan Ball. I think I’m just a big kid at heart and this has fueled my love of playing with story ideas and using my imagination. I write for the playful child inside myself.

What other genres have you written in? I have only ever written for children and I only want to write for children. Children have the most amazing imaginations and unlimited potential to learn. We truly under-estimate what geniuses all preschoolers are.

Can you tell us a bit about the Babies Love Books campaign? The Babies Love Books campaign is part of the Young Readers Program. We want to increase awareness amongst parents that babies love books.

Through the Young Readers Program parents receive a free It’s Rhyme Time booklet from their Maternal and Child Health Nurse. They can then come along to a baby bounce event at their local library to learn how to read to their baby. Reading to your baby can help foster a lifelong love of books and promote literacy.

At what age do you recommend parents begin reading aloud to their children? It’s never too early to introduce your baby to books and reading. Babies love the sound of their parents' voices, so even if they cannot understand what is being read, they will still respond positively and find the experience reassuring. They grow so fast it, is not long before books become objects of fun and play, to be explored, tasted and thrown about for pleasure.

If your child’s first experiences of books are positive and full of fun, you will find this will create a wonderful base for your child to learn to read, as they grow older.

Are there any ‘rules’ for reading aloud? There are no set rules, but it’s important to make reading a fun task rather than a chore for you and your child. Don’t forget to read books you enjoy too so the experience is fun for everyone. Your local library is a free source of amazing books and your local librarian will always point you in the right direction if you need help.

What do you see as the main benefits of reading to children? From exposure to books and literacy at a young age I believe that children are more likely to have a love of books when they’re older. There’s also a link between reading at a young age and improved literacy results later on in life.

What advice would you have for others on writing children’s stories? Don’t let logic limit your imagination. Writing stories for your own children is really fun and a great way to share your family experiences. Writing for publication is a long and difficult road but writing for fun and simply sharing stories has real value for your own family.

What were your five favourite books as a child? As a child I had difficulty learning to read. I think this is why I believe so strongly in reading to your child from an early age. My favourite books were, a Grimms Fairytale Book my grandmother used to read me, The Waterbabies, because I loved the pictures and the tissue paper that lay over them, The Secret Seven Series by Enid Blyton, a zillion How and Why books and The Hobbit which at twelve changed my view of reading and transported me into a world I could never have imagined on my own.

What’s next for Jeannette Rowe? Life’s full of surprises and I like it that way. Sometimes it’s not good to have all the answers. I have just finished the next six books in the SmartyCat series with ABC/HarperCollins, due for publication in February 2011. I also have seven new baby books out this year with Five Mile Press. If you want to have a better look you can go to my website, jeannetterowe.com.au.

Find out more about the Young Readers Program