Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff Wales in 1916. He grew up in England and at age eighteen went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa. When World War II began, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. After living in Washington D.C., Roald settled in England where he started writing children's stories. His first stories were written to entertain his children, but his popularity spread and now children of all ages love his stories. Roald Dahl is considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.

Roald Dahl was a great believer in the importance of reading. "I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers," he once said, "to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting, and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage."

Visit his official website at To learn more about the Roald Dahl Reading Dahlathon and to download materials for the reading challenge, visit Celebrate Roald Dahl Month in the classroom by downloading a calendar filled with fun activities here: Roald Dahl Month Celebration Calendar!

Click here to see more information about Roald Dahl and his books here.

A Q&A from Roald Dahl

Excerpted from "An Interview with Roald Dahl" on

How do you get the ideas for your stories?
It starts always with a tiny little seed of an idea, a little germ, and that even doesn't come very easily. You can be mooching around for a year or so before you get a good one. When I do get a good one, mind you, I quickly write it down so that I won't forget it, because it disappears otherwise rather like a dream. But when I get it, I don't dash up here and start to write it. I'm very careful. I walk around it and look at it and sniff it and then see if I think it will go. Because once you start, you're embarked on a year's work, so it's a big decision.

What is the secret to keeping your readers entertained?
My lucky thing is I laugh at exactly the same jokes that children laugh at and that's one reason I'm able to do it. I don't sit out here roaring with laughter, but you have wonderful inside jokes all the time, and it's got to be exciting, it's got to be fast, it's got to have a good plot, but it's got to be funny. It's got to be funny. And each book I do is a different level of that. Oh, The Witches is quite different from The BFG or James or Danny. The fine line between roaring with laughter and crying because it's a disaster is a very, very fine line. You see a chap slip on a banana skin in the street and you roar with laughter when he falls slap on his backside. If in doing so you suddenly see he's broken a leg, you very quickly stop laughing and it's not a joke anymore. I don't know, there's a fine line and you just have to try to find it.

How do you create interesting characters?
When you're writing a book with people in it, as opposed to animals, it is no good having people who are ordinary, because they are not going to interest your readers at all. Every writer in the world has to use the characters that have something interesting about them and this is even more true in children's books. I find that the only way to make my characters really interesting to children is to exaggerate all their good or bad qualities, and so if a person is nasty or bad or cruel, you make them very nasty, very bad, very cruel. If they are ugly, you make them extremely ugly. That I think is fun and makes an impact.

» Click here for a printable version of this note

Check out these books by Roald Dahl:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Roald Dahl
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

Fantastic Mr. Fox

by Roald Dahl
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

George's Marvelous Medicine

by Roald Dahl
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

James and the Giant Peach

by Roald Dahl
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

Click here to learn more about Roald Dahl and to see a listing of his books