“Out of the Mouths of Babe’s”

How often have we heard that saying, and when has it been more aptly associated than in the life of a writer, a children‘s writer. We have all at some time interviewed other authors, agents etc….. but have we thought of those who would most benefit from what we write. We are well aware that the reading in children today is so much more advanced than what we read in our day, at their age. Our books were more simpler in text, often started with “Once upon a time….” and nearly always had happy endings. If there were books around that were more darker our parents or teachers, for the most part, probably ensured we never saw them. These days reading material for our children are far more complex, varied and graphic. Children comprehend more difficult words than we did at their age, and expect to read well written stories. They are our most honest critic.

I thought it was about time I interviewed a few children, and find out what they like, expect and want in a good story that is going to hold their attention, and make them want more. The questions were kept simple and basic.

I interviewed six children in total ranging from 5 years to 14 years. The 14 year old is my niece who is staying with me at present, on holiday from Australia, her interview is in the second part of “Out of the Mouths of Babes’s” which along with an interview I did over the phone, I will be posting in a couple of days.

Interview 1

D: What is your name?

M: Mohit (male)

D: How old are you?

M: 5 years

D: What books do you like to read?

M: funny ones, ones with animals in, picture books. Author Roald Dahl

D: Why?

M: I like talking animals, and people being funny, makes me happy.

D: If there were baddies or goodies in your story which do you like?

M: the good people.

D: do you like happy or sad stories?

M: happy stories

D: Why?

M: I like happy ever after endings.

D: Do you like adventure stories?

M: yes I like adventures with animals.

D: Do you read aloud or to yourself ?

M: I read aloud to myself, sometimes Mum and Dad read to me at night.

D: Do you like true stories?

M: No

D: When do you like to read …time of day?

M: before bed, before I go to sleep.

D: Why?

M: because then Mum and Dad reads to me and I like that best.

D: Do you go to a library?

M: yes my grandpa takes me to the local library in my school holidays and on some weekends.

D: Does Mum and Dad read?

M: umm …. Sometimes

D: do you like receiving books as gifts?

M: No I would rather have a toy, but may be sometimes.

D: If you could wish for a special book written just for you what would it be?

M: Have to have lots of funny pictures, big pictures not little ones.

Interview 2

D: What’s your name?

V: Varun (male)

D: How old are you?

V: 10 years

D: What books do you like to read?

V: Tintin, Asterix by Gochinnya Uderzo, Roman Mysteries, Astosaurs, Comics and Novels

D: Why?

V: I like a variety. Mostly mysteries and adventures and anything to do with martial arts. Also some funny stuff.

D: What do you like the most… the story or the pictures?

V: both

D: Why?

V: I like funny pictures and it helps me understand the story quicker if there are pictures in it.

D: If there were baddies or goodies in your stories who do you like?

V: I like that the pictures often make the villian look stronger and more powerful, braver, so I like them very much but I also support the good guys.

D: Do you like happy or sad stories?

V: happy stories

D: Why?

V: well I don’t mind really either way happy or sad, but happy endings are better.

D: Do you like adventure stories?

V: yes I like animal animated adventure stories, and especially if they have fighting, suspense and mystery.

D: Do you like true stories?

V: No

D: Why?

V: they are boring

D: do you read aloud or to yourself?

V: I like to read to myself.

D: When do you like to read… time of day?

V: Anytime, except when it’s time to eat.

D: Do you go to a library?

V: yes I go to a school library but they don’t have the books I like.

D: Does Mum or Dad get the books for your?

V: Yes normally.

D: Do you like receiving books as gifts?

V: No

D: Why?

V: Because I’d rather get them myself, because they don’t know what I like.

D: Does Mum and Dad read?

V: No they don’t read much.

D: If you could wish for a special book written especially for you what would it be?

V: It would have animals that talk and do martial arts, not too much emotion, must have humour, have lots of adventure and mystery.

Interview 3.

D: What is your name?

R: Riddhi (female)

D: how old are you?

R: 7 years

D: What books do you like to read?

R: Sister Switch… by Jane B Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens and Maide the Fairy

D: Why?

R: Because I like learning more words, I am into words.

D: What do you like most… the story or the pictures?

R: the story

D: Why?

R: Because I want to be a writer some day. (something tells me she may have been told that is what I am doing..lol)

D: If there were baddies and goodies in your story who do you like?

R: I like the goodies, the fairytale stories.

D: Why?

R: because they always do good things for people, I like that the people seem real. I also like unicorns.

D: Do you like happy or sad stories.

R: Happy, because then it makes me happy.

D: Do you like adventure stories?

R: Yes

D: Why?

R: because they make me feel like I’m going on an adventure to.

D: Do you like true stories

R: No

D: When do you like to read… time of day?

R: Night before going to sleep, because it gives me good dreams and I wake up happy.

D: Do you go to a library?

R: yes

D: do Mum and Dad get the books for you?

R: No because I get the books from the school library.

D: do you like receiving books as gifts:?

R: Yes very much

D: Why?

R: because I like to Read.

D: Does Mum and Dad read?

R: yes, sometimes, books and news paper.

D: Do you read aloud or to yourself?

R: I like reading aloud to myself and when Mum and Dad and my brother are not there.

D: If you could wish for a special book to be written just for you what would it be?

R: I would have a book where a fairy turned the school girls into fairies. I like interesting stories with girlfriends as well.

Interview 4

D: What’s your name?

P: Punit (male)

D: How old are you?

P: 13years

D: What books do you like to read?

P: Adventure books where the characters use their heads to solve problems. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz and Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

D: Why?

P: Because it is really interesting and gives me fun ideas or it could be related in some way to my studies. They engage me in the story.

D: What do you like most the story or the pictures?

P: story, because they are more descriptive and gives me the picture in my head. Novels mostly

D: If you had baddies and goodies in your story who do you like?

P: I like both because it makes the story balanced and makes it a fun read when they outwit each other.

D: Why?

P: It makes it a fun read, usually has happy endings.

D: Do you like happy or sad stories?

P: Happy stories

D: Why?

P: Because sad stories are boring and not much fun, I like happy because they are more fun.

D: Do you like true stories?

P: Yes Biographic stories.

D: Why?

P: Because it gives me encouragement in life when I read what other people have done, how they have improved in their lives.

D: When do you like to read … time of day?

P: Before bed and during lunch time at school.

D: Why?

P: Because I like reading at that time and also at night is because its nice and quiet.

D: Do you read aloud or to yourself?

P: To myself

D: Do you go to a library?

P: yes I go to the school library

D: Does Mum or Dad get the books for you?

P: Sometimes…. Spiritual books.

D: Do Mum and Dad read?

P: Yes sometimes, they read spiritual books.

D: Do you like receiving books as gifts?

P: Yes, because I like collecting books and want to have my own collection.

D: If you could wish for a special book written just for you what would it be?

P: Mythology type book which is full of adventure I want Percy Jackson to continue writing his series. I like Greek gods stories as they help me with my social science course. I like these as they keep me engaged and teaches me new things.

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About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Blogs, Interviews, Reading Aloud and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to “Out of the Mouths of Babe’s”

  1. Joanna says:

    Brilliant idea, Diane. These are exactly the sorts of questions I ask kids at school and it is fascinating, and helpful as writers, to hear their responses. How did you choose these children? Did you pick kids whom you knew like to read? I was surprised even the older ones said they wanted happy endings!

    Looking forward to part 2!

    • Thankyou very much Joanna. This idea had been on my mind for some time and I was waiting till my niece came over. The kids are actually my workmates children, mostly of Indian origin and no I did not know whether they like to read or not. When I first mentioned it at work I was so surprised, the parents happily offered for me to interview their children.

  2. What a good idea. I only wish publishers did that sometimes. You say that children read more complex texts but I think that descriptions are briefer and there has to be more action to keep young minds interested as they’re so used to quick moving stories on the TV. I’m working on picture book texts at the moment and so Mohit’s comments about talking animals etc was particularly interesting for me.

  3. Thankyou for your comment Rosalind. In regard to complex texts I was referring to children reading more historic, bio and geographical books younger these days compared to back in our day the next posting I am doing is of a phone interview of a child very much into history. It’s true I agree they certainly do love action, mystery, and suspense.
    Glad you found Mohit’s comments interesting.

  4. Very clever Diane. I enjoyed these interview with kids a lot. It was a briliant idea to ask kids what they want to read. Found it interesting they want to laugh and they like adventure.

    Pat

    • Thankyou Pat. Yes it is very interesting what they say. I am thinking of making this a regular event on my blog, say every six months, or so. Would keep us more in tune with their thoughts, if nothing else.

  5. Catherine Johnson says:

    I’m so thrilled they said they like talking animals. And that fairyidea is a good one hmm… great insights, thanks for sharing!

  6. Pleased you got something out of it Catherine, it is surprising what they come up with. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. Susanna says:

    What a totally great idea to post interviews with children! I may have to steal this at some point 🙂

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