Kindle or book for kids?


Kindle or Book for KidsSo far I’ve resisted the Kindle urge and continue to cling to the faithfully printed pages which I can open up and touch; where I can fan through the remaining chapters and not stare at a soulless percentage figure; where I have the choice to peek at the last lines with a dramatic flick to tease myself into thinking I know how it ends, where there’s no scrolling through endless digital pages which look eerily familiar to all the previous ones. However sometimes I do wonder if I’m missing out or getting left behind in the dark ages. Could the slim line word generator make me a quicker, more avid reader?

For me I won’t be defecting to the Kindle side anytime soon as my current “mother of two” lifestyle gives me no need for one. I’m happy with my chunky literary fascinations knocking each other off my busy bookshelves. If you’d offered me one fifteen years ago however it may have been a different story. I may have welcomed the ease of such a svelte device in my overcrowded commuting bag.

As a determined writer on the other hand, sometimes the magnetic allure of its promises can be very tempting. When Amazon launched the Kindle Fire for kids coupled with their Kid’s Book Creator my mind started planning a whole new fantasy world of its own. Exciting! Was this the revolutionary kick start I needed? The book creator would enable little old me to publish full colour children’s illustrated digital books. At first I was ecstatic at the prospect of publication being at the command of my own fingers. Could the power of the send button be the answer to my success? I felt sure I could conquer the digital networks of such a program and present my stories in an instance to the real world.

Until the first signs of doubt set in.

I soon hit the brakes when I started asking myself basic questions. What type of books am I writing? Picture books. Who is my target audience? That will be four to seven year olds and their parents. Of course by this stage a whole new set of questions tumbled out of my mind. How would the illustrations look on screen? Do the parents want their children to have more screen time? When would a parent deem it ok for their child to read from a Kindle? Or do they, like me, prefer the printed alternative?

Suddenly it was looking less and less like the best forum to launch my books.

With the way I feel about books I struggled to see how a digital picture book could be more captivating than its printed version. How a solid flat screen could compare to flipping the floppy pages of children’s books which of course have the added advantage of doubling up as hats or towers whenever the need takes hold! So I resorted to considering the practical advantages as a parent.

When would I be tempted to read picture books to my children from a Kindle or iPhone for example? The only time that I thought a children’s e-book would have its advantages over a printed book, was on holidays. Travelling with children inevitably involves taking a myriad of unnecessary items plus the kitchen sink, so a skinny, lightweight screen could be welcomed to ease such a heavy, bulky load. A Kindle would mean I could take one or even two different picture books for every night of the holiday without having to arrange a separate shipment for them. A definite advantage but is this enough to make the e-book option more attractive overall?

For now I’ve chosen to embark on the traditional publication route but I haven’t dismissed self-publication forever. Perhaps there are merits to pursuing both? I’m sure the debate will continue to rage on in my head for some time and I know as a children’s writer I’m not alone with this conundrum. Feel free to offer your thoughts.

Getting all Mixed up

Lego Army

Meet these little guys!

I have to warn you, these are not just Lego people. These figures have evolved into Captain Cuphead, Superstorm, The Undead Surfer, Conehead, Mr Brickhead, Skeleton Warrior, Leverhead Lenny and Torch. In fact I can’t possibly list the whole army!

This is the result of my boys secretly concocting their own Lego characters for their made up battle game. As you can see, it involves taking legs, heads and bodies apart and mixing them all up with unusual additions!

I love it when they play like this. This is how creativity grows. Children are naturally good at creating things as they aren’t limited by the boundaries we impose as adults. They are more open to the impossible becoming possible.

Creativity is the reason I encourage reading and writing so much, not just because I enjoy it but because to me creative thinking is one of the most important skills we can learn. It’s about thinking outside the box, mixing things up and trying new combinations. Creativity has no boundaries and no rules. It explores, it questions, it experiments and it jumbles up the conventional. By thinking and acting this way we become better equipped to deal with the lows in our lives. By turning things on their heads and thinking of novel ways to approach a problem we begin to create a few more highs in our lives. We might even make some innovative discoveries along the way!

Reading can ignite new creative ideas as the reader gets pulled into the writer’s potion of thoughts, knowledge, imagination and points of view. Whilst writing can be the outlet for translating the reader’s creation into a physical form for others to digest, interpret and mould into something else new.

As a children’s writer I experiment with letters to make new words, I mix words to make new sentences and new sentences to create new meanings with the aim of building a fantasy world which is unique, fun, interesting and believable. There’s a story in everything if I look hard enough.

But it’s not just writers who create. An artist expresses creativity by mixing up different mediums, colours and strokes to come up with an individual style. Musicians listen out for new chord combinations or varying tones and lyrics to add depth, feeling and connection to their pieces. Dancers strive for the ultimate emotive expression to draw their audience in by experimenting with different actions and facial expressions. All these activities require the same fluidity of thinking as do inventors, designers, sculptors, speakers, mathematicians, managers and so on. We are all creative thinkers who create new moments and stories each minute and each second of every day. How we present our creativity is the part which is unique to each one of us.

Now I’m sure some of these highly evolved Lego creatures must have some stories to tell……………….