Leilani Tamu & the books her kids are reading

Poet, historian and Green Party candidate Leilani Tamu shares the importance she places on words and ideas in her family – and the one book that suits everyone.

My husband and I have two children: Kahlei, who is six (going on 16!) and Luka, who is two and full of energy. Given the four-year age gap between them, trying to find a book that appeals to them both can be a challenge.

Nonetheless, the magical Margaret Mahy always comes to my aid with Down the Back of the Chair. Everything about this book – the poetic verse, the story, the rhythm, the language – appeals to my kids, and the illustrations (by Polly Dunbar) are gorgeous too.

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As a parent and a writer, it’s very important to me to include my children in not only my writing process (I share poems and ideas with them regularly) but also in the presentation of my work.

For example when Luka was only six weeks old, he travelled with me to Australia while I took part in the Melbourne Writers and Readers Festival, and both of my children have been actively involved in community writing projects I’ve organised.

Leilani Tamu
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Leilani Tamu

Leilani Tamu is a poet, public policy professional and former New Zealand diplomat. Her first book of poetry, The Art of Excavation (Anahera Press, 2014), was longlisted in the 2015 Ockham NZ Book Awards.

Visit Leilani's blog or follow her on Twitter.