The Children’s Book that Shaped my Future

By Joanna Shaw

We asked you to tell us about the books you read as a child that went on to inspire and influence you into your adult life. Manchester Metropollitan University MA Multimedia Journalism student Joanna Shaw discusses how her reading habits and family helped support her eventual move into a career in journalism.


jacqueline23bksIt is very difficult for me to pick one specific book from my childhood that shaped my future, as there are so many. I was always an avid reader as a child, and it helped that I was born into a very bookish family. My Grandad would collect tokens from newspapers to make sure I got as many of the book collection on offer as possible, and my dad never denied me when I asked if I could have some money for a new book.

I was mostly raised on the classic children’s books like The Secret Garden and Black Beauty, or just anything with animals and/or adventures would always catch my eye. Anything ridiculously disgusting also appealed to me and my younger brother; Roald Dahl and Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry were always firm favourites for the both of us. As I got a bit older, I started collecting Jacqueline Wilson books. My parents would never try to censor me from reality, and I felt that they approved of Wilson’s books, as they told stories of absent parents, death, mental health issues and romance in a way that children ten and up could understand, without it being too overt. I’d also go to the local library and pick out non-fiction books. Anything that would teach me more about animals was a winner, and then I would start taking out autobiographies about actors or musicians that I recognised.

I think that the love of books that was instilled in me when I was little was what started me on my path to becoming a journalist. I still read very diversely and I always try to structure an argument around the non-fiction books and articles I read. I personally think anyone limiting their children to certain types of book, or saying (within reason) “that’s a bit too big/long/adult themed for you,” should really consider that their children will learn a lot more through reading diversely, and will start to ask questions about the world they live in. If the parents cannot answer them themselves, well, there will more than likely be a book on the subject.

So I cannot identify one significant book that shaped my future, I would just say that all of the books I have read throughout my life have shaped it one way or another.


The Manchester Children’s Book Festival have plenty more dates up their sleeve throughout the year. Make sure the FREE Family Fun Day taking place on June 24 is in your diary!

You can check out our full Festival programme here and also follow @MCBFestival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #MCBF2017 to keep up-to-date with all our events and news.

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