A good book starts with a good idea – and good writing.
They say everyone has a book in them but the trick is finding the confidence to unlock it.
Luckily, children in east London can discover this at Ministry of Stories, a writing and mentoring centre for eight to 18 year olds that is hidden behind the fantastical Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop.
This award-winning charity was set up in 2010 by author Nick Hornby with Ben Payne and Lucy Macnab, and it runs workshops and after school clubs for scores of potential young authors and playwrights.
In fact, a number recently had their wonderful picture books illustrated by professionals and published by Penguin.
Lucy is director of Ministry of Stories and leads the development of its programme. She has a background in participation, writer development and education.
She says: “My daughter is nearly four, so I’ve chosen books I’ve really enjoyed reading with her, one for each year of her life. And one for next year!”
For age 0-1: Where Is The Green Sheep? by Judy Horacek and Mem Fox. £6.99 (board book), Wadsworth Publishing
“I love the idea that you are counting sheep in this book, and baby Nina loved the rhythm and rhyme. Funny, a good length, and the words found their way into our daily life.”
For age 1-2: Very Little Red Riding Hood by Heapy and Heap. £6.99 (paperback), David Fickling Books
“Such a great twist on this fairytale, full of humour and interactive shouting.”
For age 2-3: The High Street by Alice Melvin. £9.99 (hardback), Tate Publishing
“It’s the dolls’ house perfection of the illustration and the rhymes that I love in this book. You open up the front of each of ten beautiful shops to see inside and every tiny trombone or lollipop is there to discover. And the final page gave us shared delight every time we got there.”
For age 3-4: Dogger by Shirley Hughes
“I think this might be the best picture book ever. And my grown up book group agrees.”
For age 4-5: The Fox and The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. £9.99 (paperback), Penguin
“This book is so beautiful to look at, and reads like poetry. It really appeals to Nina’s imagination, and the fairytales she can now spend ages inventing. It is a book that feels happy and sad at the same time, and also fascinating: I didn’t imagine foxes ate beetles.”
Find out more about Ministry of Stories at ministryofstories.org