Payal Kapadia’s debut book, Wisha Wozzariter, won the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing in 2013. It is also on the “101 Indian Children’s Books We Love!” list. After getting a B.A.(Hons.) degree in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Payal received a M.S. (Journalism) from Northwestern University in Chicago. She worked with Outlook in Mumbai and The Japan Times in Tokyo because she thought that real life would give her many stories. It did – but then Payal discovered that some of our dearest stories are born in our imagination. Her latest book, Horrid High, is said to be a riotous, rambunctious adventure in the world’s most horrid school. In our interview, Payal tells us what inspired her to write for children and gives school librarians excellent tips to encourage children to read for joy.
- What inspires you to write for children?
The wonderful stories my two daughters, twelve and eight, bring home each day. My own vivid memories of being a child. And the niggling knowledge that somewhere inside us, there’s a little part of us that remains a child forever.
- Tell us about a book that you loved as a child and that you revisit even today
My original copy of Enid Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ sits on my children’s bookshelf now. It still fills me with wonder, this notion of a changing land at the top of a magical tree. I’ve read it so many times now and it never gets old.
- What are the three effective ways in which schools can promote reading for joy?
One, let kids read what they want to read. It’s OK if they want to read the same book again and again. Make suggestions, but don’t prescribe. Reading is the last bastion of freedom. Two, don’t wring a moral lesson out of everything a child reads. Three, employ and encourage librarians who are passionate about children’s books. A good librarian can find the perfect book for every child.
- Name three contemporary authors which you feel children should be exposed to
I’ll give you three, though I could probably name a hundred. Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl, Paro Anand.
- Which are 5 books which every school library should own?
Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’; Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy; Norton Juster’s ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’; Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’; Eoin Colfer’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ series.
- If you could become any book character for a day, who would you choose to be?
I’d be Moon-Face and live inside the Faraway Tree and slide down the Slippery Slip and suck on Pop Biscuits!