'Make it a shared experience': Rove McManus on encouraging kids to read

Rove McManus has authored four children's books.
Rove McManus has authored four children's books. 

As both dad and children's author, Rove McManus knows how important a good book is for kids.

"It's the first step into sparking the imagination and creativity in a child" he tells Essential Kids.

"Long before any child is getting any stimulus from television, or even you to a certain extent, books are always the thing that seems to come first, even in this very modern age where there's screens everywhere.

"For me that's why they're such an important tool."

The 46-year-old has written four children's books including Disgusting McGrossface and Rocky Lobstar: Rocky to the Rescue.


A post shared by Rove McManus (@rovemcmanus) on

He says upcoming Book Week is the perfect time to let kids express their love of reading by getting creative with a dress-up outfit.

This year's theme of "Curious Creatures, Wild Minds" opens up plenty creative options, McManus says.

"We've gotten into the Magic Faraway Tree [by Enid Blyton]," he said. "I think a character like Moonface would be wonderful. No, Saucepan Man! And it's very easy to do, just get pots and pans from around home and just tie them around your body."


As for kids who don't love reading, McManus has some ideas of how to encourage reading at home. For him, it was making it a part of his family's bedtime routine.

 "When (daughter Ruby) was a little bit older it became something we did before bed every night," the father-of-one said. "With the busy life that every has, I think it's a really easy thing that you can commit to, and you make it a shared experience."

For McManus and wife actor Tasma Walton that often means adding a bit of theatre to reading time. 

"You make it a little bit fun- maybe a little easier because we are performers" he laughs.

"I would find a voice for characters and maybe every now and then I'd quietly improvise around what was being said and make it fun."

McManus admits he may have put in a little too much effort into his bedtime reading show in those early days - now his daughter expects a bit of improv from her famous dad all the time. 

"It's something that she wants to do every night," he laughed. "Unfortunately, it backfired."

As for his own Book Week costume? As a kid at heart, he can't go past his favourite childhood book.

​"One of the characters from Where The Wild Things Are [by Maurice Sendak]," he declared. "That would've been great."

With Book Week kicking off next week, Spotlight has costumes ready to go to avoid the last-minute costume scramble. From unicorns to Disney favourites, you'll be able to find (or make) a costume for any character! 

Spotlight is the Starlight Foundation's Official Creativity Partner and facilitated a live book reading and illustration session with Rove for children's hopsitals, as well as donating craft supplies to children's hospitals across Australia.