Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
Hello I’m Ruth, and I live in Edinburgh with my husband and my four year old son Arran. I’ve been self employed now for eight years providing research services for charities, and these days I run my business flexibly around Arran’s pre-school needs. Edinburgh is an arts and cultural hub and we do our best to take advantage of the various festivals and events that run here throughout the year.
What is your son’s favourite book?
There’s a lovely series of books based on TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats with illustrations by Arthur Robins, and we have the five that have come out so far. We have read them all many times and our favourites are Skimbleshanks (the railway cat) and Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer (the cat burglars). We enjoy the interesting rhymes and beautiful pictures, and also the opportunity to listen to the songs in the car based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. I can’t wait to take Arran to see Cats at the theatre some day!
Which book do you most like reading to them and why?
I have a real soft spot for Hairy Maclary and his friends, in the series by Lynley Dodd. The characters have been part of our lives since Arran was born and they still appeal as he approaches school age. I love that they are silly and frivolous, but that the narrative is hugely creative and rhymes beautifully and includes a real wide variety of interesting words. How often do you see words like ‘bumptious’ and ‘jittery’ and ‘skittish’ and ‘blusterous’ and ‘cantankerous’ in a children’s book? And why not? It makes things much more interesting for the reader and the child.
What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I was an early and voracious reader, devouring everything that my local library could offer and scouring the local charity shops to add to my collections of Sweet Valley, Babysitters Club and various boarding school series. If only we’d had Ebay then, imagine how many more I might have gathered! But my enduring favourite story would have to be Peter Pan which I have read over and over and latterly enjoyed live as a play and on TV as the CBeebies panto. I’ve recently discovered the ‘beautiful books’ section in Waterstones, and was delighted to get an illustrated and interactive copy of Peter Pan from MinaLima, the design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter films.
What would you like to see more of in kids’ books today?
Books have proven to be a really gentle and effective way of introducing Arran to new issues and concepts, so if there is something that is about to happen or something that I think he needs to know about my natural instinct is to see if there is a book about it. That’s been easy enough for topics like ‘Easter’ or ‘Christmas’ and I got in touch with my local LGBT charity for some recommendations relating to gender, sexuality and diverse family structures. But I’d love to see more social issues covered in an age-appropriate way, especially the thornier ones outside our own day-to-day experience.
Do you have a favourite children’s bookshop?
Living in Edinburgh we have a big Waterstones with a huge children’s section, a slide for playing on, and a view of the Castle. Arran’s Great Auntie Eileen kindly keeps him stocked with book tokens and we have fallen into the routine of spending them very gradually. If we get a quiet Sunday, we’ll spend a pleasant hour in Waterstones looking at the books and choosing one to take home.
I set up Ruthless Research in 2010 to follow my passion for working with organisations that benefit the community. I do this by helping not-for-profits to become sustainable by using market research techniques to evaluate their work, demonstrate their impact and make evidence-based decisions.