We all know how vital reading is for our children. Tell Me Their Story provides bespoke children’s book consultations to parents, helping them find the right books for their child, whether they are a reluctant reader, a voracious bookworm or looking to develop comprehension and vocabulary skills. The ultimate aim is to create a tribe of happy young readers, whether they are 7 or 17 years old.
Tanuja Bocquet is the owner of Tell Me Their Story and a busy mum to three children aged 6, 12 and 13. She lives in Beaconsfield. After many years working in London, Tanuja decided to move away from the corporate world and focus on her passion for children’s literature.
When and why did you set up Tell Me Their Story?
I started Tell Me Their Story at the end of last year. Books are a way of learning and sharing information, but they also spark children’s imagination, can inspire reflection, positive change and empathy. But we all know getting children to read can be difficult sometimes. I wanted to create a service that helped parents find books that were the perfect fit for their child and made them enthusiastic to read more.
What were you doing before?
I worked as a City lawyer for over ten years, specialising in international trade and insurance in private practice before moving to the Financial Services Authority.
What made you change from City Lawyer to a children’s reading consultant?
I had been keen to spend more time with my family and knew I wanted to change careers and pursue my love of literature. After my youngest daughter was born, I completed an MA in Children’s Literature and became a bookseller at my favourite bookshop, Daunt Books in Marylebone. I was very busy but very happy. I also continued volunteering at my children’s school and realised just how important it was to me to see children reading and engaging with books.
It also became clear that lots of parents were struggling to get their children reading and I thought I could put all my knowledge to good use and help.
What’s the process you go through with a new client and how much does it cost?
Each consultation lasts forty five minutes and costs £30. The consultations are child free so that the process is open and efficient.
I spend some time getting to know what the child is interested in and any concerns the client has about their child’s reading. I then recommend specific books, genres or authors that I think will fulfil their child’s reading needs going forward. I refer directly to books within my own collection throughout the consultation. As well as suggesting novels, I have also been known to recommend magazine subscriptions and puzzle books.
After the consultation I provide each client with a list of recommended books. I can also purchase and deliver the suggested books to the client if they find this additional service helpful.
Top tips for creating happy readers
All types of reading for pleasure is good; whether it is a comic book, a graphic novel, the newspaper, an encyclopedia or a novel. The most important thing is that your child is engaged and enjoying the process.
If you are keen to introduce new vocabulary or help comprehension skills this can be done by picking a more challenging book and reading and discussing it together.
As parents we must be careful not to make reading become a chore. Reading out loud or setting quiet time where you read as a family helps children know that you are invested in their reading and it is an activity that is important to you too.
In this strange new world, re-reading is also really important for children. So don’t worry if your child has read Harry Potter for the fifth time during lockdown. Seeking comfort in familiar stories is just as good as picking up a new novel. The important thing is they are reading.
What does a typical week look like for you?
As well as running Tell Me Their Story, I am the Deputy Manager at Oxfam Books in Beaconsfield. I started volunteering for Oxfam many years ago, and ended up getting a job! I also continue to work for Daunt Books and am based in The Marlow Bookshop. Having three jobs and three children is certainly a challenge but I feel incredibly pleased to be doing what I love. On the days I am not working, I’m usually catching up with reading children’s book proofs that publishers have sent me or writing book reviews for my Instagram account.
Favourite local bookshop?
Well, I will have to name two – Oxfam Books in Beaconsfield and The Marlow Bookshop. Both brilliant, enthusiastically run and stocked full of great books.
AND JUST FOR FUN?
How do you spend your time when you’re not running Tell Me Their Story?
I read a lot. I also cycle, play tennis and we spend a lot of time outdoors in the beautiful Chiltern countryside.
Children’s publishing is becoming so much more diverse. I love the fact that publishers like Knights Of are celebrating BAME authors and Pushkin Children’s are helping children discover books by authors from all over the world. They have published some of the best children’s books in recent years. I was a huge fan of The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius.
My favourite adult read is probably The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.
What are you currently reading?
Favourite local walk?
Walkwood Woods. It has been a lovely place to walk with my family during lockdown.
We have just discovered The Village Mangal, Amersham. My children love it.
What do you love most about where you live?
Local woodlands, stunning walks in the Chiltern countryside and being so close to London.
Keep in touch with Tanuja at Tell Me Their Story