MAKE sure you have lots of books in the house.
That is the number one tip from bestselling Oxford author Philip Pullman on how to get your child reading.
Mr Pullman, author of the award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy, was speaking to the Oxford Mail in support of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
The Mail-backed initiative aims to improve reading standards and fostering a love of the written word.
He said: “Make sure you have lots of books in the house, lots of attractive picture books, and some interesting stories as they get older.”
Mr Pullman, who was an active figure in the campaign to keep Oxfordshire’s libraries open, was also eager to stress their importance.
He said: “Enrol your child at the library – that is very important.
“Make sure they know where the library is and that they are always welcome there and that the library is full of lovely books to borrow.”
Parents could also help make sure their children were getting the best possible chances at school.
He said: “Urge their school to provide lots of books for the school library. Ask if there is a school library, what is the school library policy, who is in charge and do they have any qualifications?
“The school connection is a very important one and if a parent is concerned and interested about this, they should join the school governors.”
Mr Pullman, who taught in Oxfordshire middle schools for 12 years, said he had always loved reading. His mother had read aloud to him as a child and left him plenty of books to read.
He said: “I remember learning to read with a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
“My mother read it so many times I knew it off by heart, but I remember one day getting my favourite story, finding the picture, and then gradually the words began to become transformed. I could hear them as I was reading them.”
He said one of the childhood books he best remembered was Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner, given to him for Christmas as an aunt aged about eight.
He said: “It’s a lovely story, very exciting with all sorts of important values in it.”
Comics were another way off getting youngsters enthused.
He said: “Don’t under-estimate the value of comics. We have a very good comic produced in Oxford, the Phoenix, which ought to be in every school and house.
“The important thing is reading for pleasure.”