He’s the Aussie author whose children’s books have sold over five million copies. One of them, The 52-Storey Treehouse, was the best-selling book in Australia in 2014. His young fans are hanging out for Wednesday when his new book, The 65-Storey Treehouse, goes on sale.
More than anyone else in Australia, Andy Griffiths knows how to get kids reading.
The Motherish spoke to Griffiths to get his tips for raising young book-lovers
1. Make regular trips to the library, the bookshop, and, if possible, writing events. "Show them the wide range of books that exist," Griffiths says.
2. Let your kids read whatever book they want. "A non-fiction book about car engines might be all they want to read," he says. "Then I would say that is the perfect book for them. It doesn’t have to be fiction or what’s perceived as good quality. Anything that excites them is the doorway for that child."
3. Make sure your kids see you enjoying reading. "It’s far more convincing to be doing the thing that you’re telling them to do, rather than say, 'Read your book,' as if it’s medicine, while you go and watch the television."
4. Build up your own library at home. "Just having books in the house sends the message that books are important."
So what's the secret to writing a hit children's book? What do kids really want to read?
Griffiths says it's all about "playfulness and mischievousness".
"I get the parents out of the way really early," he explains. "It’s kids in a world of heightened danger and pleasure."
He says up until about 15 years or so ago, books still had an "air of worthiness" about them.
"Around the late '80s, early '90s, I was a secondary English teacher, and the normal response when you took them to the library was very negative: 'Oh, do we have to go there?'" he remembers. "There was nothing funny. I couldn't believe that people weren’t realising the power of humour to motivate a young reader."
A revolution came in the form of series like Harry Potter and Captain Underpants, showing that books don't have to be boring.
"I felt I came in around that time and recognised the same need for books that make kids go, 'Oh yeah, that's really cool!'"
Griffiths' first book, Just Tricking, was a best-seller. He says he felt the pressure "really intensely" to write another one that would sell as well.
"Then I thought, 'No, forget that there's this whole big audience and that anything actually matters. Just go back to that pure 10-year-old self, which I remember very well, just delighting in my own ingeniousness and inventiveness and silliness in the privacy of my bedroom.'"
Andy Griffiths' new book The 65 Storey Treehouse will be released on Wednesday.
Do your kids love Andy Griffiths' books?