TODAY   |  October 04, 2012

Julie Andrews: ‘We want children to love reading’

The legendary actress and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, chat with TODAY’s David Gregory about their newest book, “Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> everything else over the course of her amazing six-decade career. she's also a best-selling author of children's books. she's written with her daughter their latest treasury with all seasons poems and songs to celebrate the year. julie andrews , great to see you. what a wonderful book. what a wonderful contribution.

>> thank you.

>> why has this collaboration worked so well? you write children's books. they're all best-sellers. something's going right.

>> chemistry. i don't know, we were very unsure at first if we'd be compatible. and somehow we have very different strengths when we work together. and it's --

>> and we can speak shorthand. i think that helps too.

>> and we both love tea.

>> and working with mom is okay? it's not a struggle.

>> no, it 's wonderful , actually. believe it or not doing creative work together takes away the pressure from all the other nonsense that comes into mother/daughter relationships.

>> i have three young kids and i are like to introduce poetry to them. you've got all these holidays, emily dickinson , the nuts are getting brown, the berry's cheek is plumper, the rose is out of town. it 's wonderful to introduce that.

>> and we want children to love reading and poems is a marvelous introduction to that. they're short, musical in a way.

>> you found poems for arbor day even.

>> kwanzaa, we've tried to be diverse and broad.

>> that's the next book.

>> you wrote original poems about valentine's day, julie you write a heart seems far too small a thing to carry, all the love i bring to you. what about valentine's day made you want to write something original?

>> well, my spouse, my lovely blake. and in the family, we always write special occasion poems. we have done for as long as i can remember. we've got quite a pile of them and i chose one day to do a valentine's for blake.

>> what's special for you in the book that stands out?

>> you know, one of the great thrills is the beautiful painting .

>> it just makes the book.

>> they do. we hope, of course, that the poem will stand on their own and be these wonderful rich linguistic musical gifts, but the painting so catch the eye and we'll really enhance the experience for kids and families of all ages.

>> what is the key to reaching children meaningfully in a book? and do your own kids offer good advice?

>> they're good. they are very good critics.

>> our best critics and source of ideas.

>> sometimes they are, yeah. unless we stumble across an idea that we have to suddenly write because it is so compelling.

>> i think the key is the same as it is writing with adults. it's compelling story and great characters.

>> characters mostly, i think. characters make your story.

>> in a collection like this, of course, it's moments, it 's wonderful moments that capture the imagination and beautiful pictures to go with it.

>> and we hope that families, indeed, will just be able to go to the bookshelf at any time of the year and find an appropriate poem for whatever day they're celebrating.

>> so much good stuff in here. thank you, both.

>> thank you for having me.

>> we're back after your local news.