Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Why and How to Write for Children

~ Because it is fun?
~ Because you are interested in what they are interested in?
~ Because you want to teach them something?
~ You want to share an important message about life?
~ Because you never grew up and don’t intend to?

Then, once you have an idea for a story, what is the best way to present it? Well, embed it within the stories that children love. Here are some of the choices.

1. Animals:

Biophilia describes "the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life."

Stephen J. Dubner (from Why Are Kids So Crazy About Animals? ) says that heis “surprised by how devoted kids are to animals, even if that devotion doesn’tseem to last into adulthood for some of us."

He says that perhaps kids like animals because:

1. Animals are simply cute and cuddly — at least in the abstract, and in cartoons.

2. Animals seem vulnerable, and kids want to take care of them — or, conversely:

3. Animals seem vulnerable, and kids want to control them.

4. Animals are a sort of proxy for kids in that kids are relatively powerlesscompared to adults whereas animals are relatively powerless compared topeople.

Patty Born Selly (from Nurturing Children's Love for Animals) says, “Most folks who work with children know that children are drawn toanimals of all kinds. There is definitely something special aboutchildren’s interest in animals. Research shows that humans’ innateinterest in animals is biological: we are drawn to species that are‘“other”’ than human and in many cases have an instinct to want tocare for or nurture creatures that are small and vulnerable. Unlike adults who tend to value animals for what they can provide (food, leather, wool), or how they can serve us (as companions), childrentend to value animals simply because they are. They recognize theintrinsic value of animals—that simply because they are livingcreatures, they are important.”

Here are some examples:

and the list goes on…and on….and on…Then there is...

2. Dirt

My grandson and I used to play in the dirt all the time. I have since found outthat he was, “allowing his immune response to explore his environment,”

Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote (in her book, Why Dirt Is Good ) “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teachingthe immature immune response what is best ignored.”

Another study found that kids who grew up on farms or with a dog in the househad fewer allergies.

One leading researcher, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, the director of gastroenterologyand hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said in an interview that theimmune system at birth, “is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction.” He said that public health measures like cleaning up contaminated water and food have saved the lives of countless children, but they, “also eliminated exposure to many organisms that are probably good for us.”

From Why You Should Let Kids Eat DirtBy ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN , June 6, 2014, says
“A significant amount of research has shown that kids who grow up living onfarms with livestock, or with a pet are less likely to develop asthma or allergies. Prior research has also suggested that it’s not necessarily dust that provides aprotective benefit, but the microbes that are in our guts that influence ourimmune system and ability to fight off infections.”

It seems that many of these new findings support a growing body of evidencethat a little exposure to germs here and there never hurt anyone, and in fact, could actually be protective.

So we play in the dirt and since children don’t know about these findings butsimply love the dirt, we can write about it. Make it a subject of our stories.

3. Some children love to be naked

A nice thing to know is that at two to four years of age, kids don’t care what theylook like - they have no shame in being naked. Then, when they reach about fiveor six years of age, they start to feel shame (the good kind of shame that keepsone from being in awkward situations).

So maybe, if a five or six-year-old is still running around naked, it’s because he or she is trying to gain a little control over something, or just simply unsure of when and where, or who, it’s appropriate to be naked in front of. Perhaps, it’s just because they think it’s hilarious.


I remember this poem vividly and think of it each time I take a child swinging.

The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down

5. Other Humans

So find what interests you, why do YOU want to write for children? I am amusician and dreamt about performing in front of large audiences when I was ayoungster. So, what do I write about? Musical fantasy stories like these….

What did YOU dream about or do as a child? This is the fodder you need foryour next children’s book!

Post by Alice Cotton 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review of Philanthropy: The Fusion World Project by J. L. Tamone

When people get desperate enough, they will obey just about anybody. War had devastated Vyndral, leaving it barren and without resources. Revolutionaries under the leadership of Captain Cain Clark use an ancient device capable of traveling to parallel dimensions, invading the peaceful world of Rafia to extract justice. When Clark’s plan seeks to end all life in the universe, a group of five philanthropists band together to take him on. But with an assassin on their tail, will they survive long enough to take a stand?

*We were given a copy of this book in exchange for our honest review*

I really liked this book. I’m not really sure why, but I’ll try my best to not just say “there just something about it”. The story itself has a some very moral, heavy arguments at the core of it but the story itself remains fun. The characters, at first are not very likable, and seem to only exist in an effort to move the plot to different physical areas, but... they started to grow on me. I found myself enjoying them. I liked the way that, even during a stressful and intense moment, they are cracking jokes and being annoying; being real people.

It was surprising what good, kind people so many of the characters were, dropping everything to help a stranger, saving lives of those in danger, even when they didn’t mean to. 

This book is full of action from start to finish, but it doesn’t feel rushed. I just kept wanting to read more and see more of their world… which is so much like our own, but also, so different. Hearing the history of what devastated the parallel world, and how they have lived. Yes, there are parallel worlds.

Some of the characters feel very surface level and could use some more of a look into their lives and thoughts - I just wanted to know more about them. But I think this book has a very unique voice, it's not often that you can read a sci-fi, action thriller and come across a "that's what she said" joke.

This book ended with a “book 2 in the works” stinger and, I have to say, I definitely want to read it.

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This review was done by MJ! You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Book Spotlight on Miles for Bonnie: Finding Our Family by Irene Helenowski

For the longest time, he was just going through the motions. And then a stranger came into Dave Simpson's diner, setting him on a journey to find what he and his late wife always wanted. It was not long before he would find their family.

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Irene Helenowski would like to be a writer when she grows up but also loves her current day job, being a biostatistician at Northwestern University in Chicago. She has received a Master's in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Ph.D. in Biostatistics from the University of Illinois - Chicago. She hopes to follow her trilogy with a series of fairy tales and additionally writes poetry and is attempting a screenplay based on her trilogy. Irene also enjoys travel, going to concerts and museums, and other activities with friends and family. Spreading the love of math and science to minority groups has also become a passion of hers.

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