People who read will never stop growing and learning. Opportunities and success in life open up when we read.
So what a privilege it is to be a story-telling children's book creator! We get to be right there in the beginning when children first discover books and reading. We play an important part of encouraging youngsters to love books and embark on a lifetime of reading.
So heads up, all you children's book creators! You need to be at the very top of your game! There's no room for slackers here. Mediocre books are un-read, and that is not acceptable, because the competition is fierce and the enemy is relentless.
That fierce competition isn't other books, movies, TV or even the dreaded social media. All of those have their place, and, in the case of other books and movies, they can actually inspire and motivate us to do our best work. Always appreciate the work of other creatives.
No, our real competition is ourselves. Our number one enemy is the attitude we sometimes have when we focus more on ourselves and what we're wanting to create, rather than focusing more on our potential readers and what they might want or need from us.
While we're writing and drawing and doing this thing we're designed to do, we need to move past our own egos and realize that gifts are given to us in order to serve others. For children's book makers, that means we will always be studying and learning how to do our thing better and better, with the end goal of helping our target audience learn and grow, too.
True readers want to read and we've got to design our books well enough to, first of all, get noticed and picked up. Then the actual story needs to written (and drawn, if it's a picture book) in such a way as to keep the reader engaged until the very satisfying end.
Our young readers are just beginning to find out if reading is something that appeals them. So our books need to grab and hold their attention right from the first page, all the way through to the very end of the book, where we'll wrap it all up in the most satisfying ending that makes them lean back say, Ahhhh!
Hopefully the experience will be so terrific, that soon they'll be reaching for another book. This is how youngsters learn to love reading.
Movies, TV, and even scrolling through social media all have their place, I suppose. But the downfall is that they are all passive activities. Lots of stimulation without extending much effort is not a good thing. Better pastimes would be getting outside and playing in the sunshine, or pursuing a hobby, especially if those activities are engaging with other people. Both brain and body are actively engaged, and there's plenty of stimulation with appropriate physical and mental effort and responses.
Reading falls somewhere in between. Unlike watching a movie or scrolling through media, reading is much more engaging and proactive. And the resulting stimulation engages the reader mentally and emotionally. Add a brisk walk around the block after you close the book, and reading turns out to be a well-rounded activity after all!
As book creators, our number one goal is to create such an experience for our young readers, that they will be hungry and motivated to have that experience again and again ... that's how life-long readers and learners are born ... and it is life-changing!
To accomplish this, we need to transition from being merely book makers to being storytellers.
A talented book maker impresses would-be readers with his design and writing skills. The reader will Ooh! and Ahh! over the creation. But when the experience is over, the reader walks away and eventually forgets.
A storyteller, on the other hand, can take even the simplest tale and tell it in such a way that the reader experiences it emotionally. That reader walks away challenged and changed. And that's the reader who will be motivated to go pick up another book ...
While all of us book makers need to be constantly honing our skills to make our books the very best they can be, let's talk this month about how to also become terrific storytellers ...