The latest in Writer, Storyteller Lynn and Kids living life with zest and fun things to do like listening, reading, and writing.
I say, ” I like, I Like Company, my bilingual children’s picture book.” I say, “I’ve learned a whole big lot from I Like Company. How have I learned so much about I Like Company, I mean I’m the author and I’m a grown-up?
I’ve learned because, the writing was the first fun part and writing it was like becoming a parent to child.
But I also learned because it has kept taking on a life of its own with its own meaning ever since I finished it.
How did it do that?
I learned because the new life that was coming forth from the book was and is fed by those who read it or have it read to them–in either case–the young children. I am learning what else I Like Company expresses. This means that I didn’t even see before the kids started talking about the story and the characters who make up the story what the story was about in real life terms.
I began by thinking in adult terms using serious grown-up language like “Trust” and “Bonding.” In my own defense, trust and bonding is very, very important for children to learn: to learn to trust those around them to help them get their needs met long before they can meet their own needs; and bonding, that is the emotional, life-saving sense of connection between a child and a parent, caregiver, or person. Though these terms are essential for every child’s social-emotional mental health, they must be conveyed through action to the children and in language that kids can understand.
What happened next?
After I finished writing I Like Company, I asked to field test the story and pictures at my grandchildren’s school using a first grade classroom at Town Center Elementary School in Coppell, Texas. After I read the story, the very wise, skilled teacher, Ms. Torti, asked her children to write about what they liked about the story and how it made them feel.
Some of their initial comments were used as endorsements on the back cover of I Like Company. “Because it’s about family’s and I Love family stuff,” “This is a great book because it shows a family too gether,” and “I like this book becuz it is a grate opertunity for the ciz (kids) to lern about company.”
I read the story many other times to other children, preschoolers, first, second, and third graders. When the children were old enough to write, I received some of the following comments: “It (the story) reminds me of my family.” “I like my family.” “I love to sit in my grandma’s lap and have here read to me.” “It made me think about my grandpa who I loved. He died last year. I like to think about my grandpa.” And the coup d’gras, “I’d like to be a writer just like you because your writing makes me feel good and I’d like to make people feel good, too.” (These were mostly from second graders.)
Preschoolers, who couldn’t write, shared how they felt by identifying with the scenes in the pictures. When picture showed a baby being given a bath, the children would simply say, “My mama gave me a bath.” When the picture showed the narrator (a girl) playing blocks with a boy who was also three years old, the child might say, “I like to play blocks with my friend.” In the case of the preschoolers, the kid’s expressions seemed to say,”I like what was happening when I had company.”
Aside from the awesome words written by the children, I realized first of all that without ever uttering my adult words, trust and bonding, they felt the intent of what I wanted the story to accomplish, only they called it “family.” The children expressed bonding by describing how they felt around their grandpa, grandma, baby sister, mom and dad, and so on. And I learned about the importance of family, yet one more time when adults behave in simple ways to meet the needs of their children in healthy, caregiving ways–ways filled with love even when the word “love” is never mentioned, but the child’s needs get met.
And so it is! I learn from writing and I teach with writing because I have been blessed to by being with kids who say the way things really are. My teachers come in small packages that pack an awesome punch.
The Next Step
I’ve opened a new email account just for children to use: firstname.lastname@example.org. After hearing I Like Company, I invite kids to write to me or dictate what they want to say to me with the help of a caregiver, parent, or teacher.
I’d like the children to comment to two questions: “What did you like about the story?” “How did the story make you feel?“
Then send the comments to me at email@example.com
I’ll then do two things:
I’ll read what you wrote and I’ll send you a “Thank You”
How about it? Give me a try and we’ll go from there. Maybe soon you’d like to write your own story about you and your family. Then you can join: The Kid’s Memoir Writing Club (coming soon)
Enjoy your reading and writing. Smiles from, Writer and Storyteller Lynn