Introducing Children’s Books

Goodnight Moon! Oh the Places You’ll Go! Good Night Gorilla! Moo, Baa, La La La! Where the Wild things Are!

All of these books played a very important part in my childhood, entertaining me, teaching me, and helping me dream of a big future. Children’s books really are the foundation for my love of reading and writing, but how does one go about making an impactful and entertaining children’s book?! Let’s see!

From Moo, Baa, La La La!… I most definitely screamed moooooo every time I read this as a kid.

The two most important aspect of any children’s book is to include lots of imagination and to have a specific message or theme. The goal of the story should be to create wild and fantastic worlds that expand kid’s minds, but also to make sure that aspects of children’s natural environments are included. With more imaginative stories (like people who can fly, fairies, monsters, talking animals, etc), kids are encouraged to dream big and create their own stories. That being said, children’s books almost always center the protagonist around a kid character so that the kids reading the books are more likely to see themselves in their shoes.

Once they are able to relate to the character or find them entertaining in some way, they also are more likely to learn from the message of the book. Since kids are learning lots of new things every day, books are a great way to teach them morals like ‘good guy’ vs ‘bad guy’ so that they can (hopefully) emulate the good behaviors. Similarly, children’s books purposely almost always end the story with a positive ending. The idea is that if all their stories end with a “happily ever after,” they will be excited about their future. After all, we don’t want little kids to realize that the prince won’t always carry you off into the sunset and that you probably won’t end up surrounded by a pile of gold. Sorry, but that’s life. But kids don’t have to know that, at least not in these kinds of books.

Children’s books also have LOTS of illustrations! Kids love lots of pictures, bright colors, they catch their attention, and it makes it easier for them to understand. Typically, the illustrations take up most of the page because the importance is on the images, and the words are smaller. That being said, it’s a good idea not to include lots of contemplation and abstract ideas since kids have a harder time understanding those kinds of topics- so one has to try to keep it as simple as possible.

I am excited to try and take a new spin on my topic of plastics for this experiment by trying to reach the people who need to know about it the most: kids. From the books that kids read growing up, they learn what different noises animals make, are transported to the new worlds of Dr. Seuss, and reminds us to say goodnight and be grateful for everything they have. So, why shouldn’t kids learn about how plastics are bad through a fun story in an imaginary world?!

Introduction to Satire

When I first think of satire, my mind automatically rushes towards The Onion newspaper. I think of their snarky articles that, if I didn’t know were fake, would make me concerned for our society. And that’s the whole point- satire is supposed to make you question how much of it is real and how much is made up. For example, my friend told me today that she once was fooled by an article (that she didn’t realize was from The Onion) about how SeaWorld was starting to take elephants and put them in pools until they couldn’t swim anymore. A cruel, cruel thing to trick my animal-loving friend into reading, but it just goes to show how insane some satire topics can be and the big reactions they can create. And even under the layer of darker humor, they still make a point about a relevant situation, like the negative treatment of animals at SeaWorld. During my research I came across some pretty amazing titles of other Onion articles such as “27-Year-Old Lies About Every Aspect of His Life to Keep Parents from Worrying” and “Jesus Christ Sues Catholic Church for Unlicensed Use of His Image” which I found entertaining, and good examples of the humor involved in satire. 

Although The Onion is a well-known example of satire, my research showed me a little bit more of what actually makes it satire, and how the genre expands beyond newspaper articles. 

When it comes down to it, the whole point of satire is to ridicule or criticize something through irony, caricature, parody, or derision. Even though these can seem mean or rude, another important aspect of satire is that the end product is supposed to be funny. Even if it makes you laugh because it’s so obscene or cruel, if it’s not funny, then it’s not really satire. 

The more I researched satire, the more I realized that it is everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. Satire lives in the lives of our favorite movie characters, on TV in shows like the Colbert Report or SNL, resides in novels and short stories, and also is present during political debates, just to name a few examples. The Colbert Report (here is an example) is actually a great instance of how Stephen Colbert creates vexations that then attract a bigger, more passionate audience than if he had not included satire within his show. And that’s the thing about satire, it’s supposed to be so brutally honest that it can hurt to take in, but at the same time it’s honest and presented in an entertaining way so that people don’t become too offended. 

Usually, this mockery is supposed to lead to some sort of social reform by calling people to action, or simply just to expose a particular topic. Satire was created thousands of years ago, and even back then it was supposed to attack a specific trait or aspect of a person or place. Tim Keck, the co-founder of The Onion, said that satire “is the thing that everyone is thinking about, but that you would never see in an article” or whatever form it is presented in. This can especially be seen in caricatures, as they try to call people to action while highlighting all the issues going on in society- especially regarding politics.

An example from the 2016 presidential election…

So, as I see it, when starting to write a satire, only a few things are needed before beginning:

  1. A relevant/current topic
  2. Mockery masked by humor
  3. Understanding that even if your joking, someone might still be offended (hopefully no one gets offended though)

Hopefully I can include these (and many other aspects) in my own piece and work to make it both humorous but also honest. Of all the aspects of this genre, I feel that the idea that one can make fun of a subject while also calling for attention and changes to be made to that topic is something very creative and exciting that I am eager to explore. I guess we will have to see how sassy and honest my experiment becomes…

Introduction To Self-Help Books

When I first came across the idea of self-help books, I thought that the title meant that they were written specifically made for a reader in desperate need of some sort of immediate help. Help! My boyfriend broke up with me and I don’t know how to move on. Help! I don’t know how to be friends with people. Help! I’m feeling sad.

Although some self-help books do address more immediate life crises, I was surprised by the variety of topics they cover. I came across titles like “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” and “You are a Badass,” both of which teach you how to really be a badass and not care about the little things in life. How well do they teach you? I guess you’ll have to read them to find out.

As I read samples from Self-Help Books, I keep finding myself wanting to fully read the books because each one sounds just as interesting and motivational as the last. Maybe it’s the nerd inside me, but I want to learn about how you can leave your ego behind and enter a state of inner peace. Can books really do that? Or maybe it’s me wanting to know how tidying up the spaces around me can also clear my mind. The phycology of it all makes me wonder if a clean room really makes life simpler… that would be nice.  Either way, self-help books are intriguing because they draw attention to a topic that isn’t usually talked about, making the reader think and reflect on their own lives. How we interact with the people and world around us is based on our mindsets, so learning how we can partake in certain activities to feel a certain way or gain a certain mentality by reading self-help books can open people’s minds to that topic. Typically, they revolve around helping solve people’s personal problems, making their lives ‘better.’

One book I particularly enjoy is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “GMorning, GNight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You.” Geared to help people get out of bed in the morning, this book contains affirmations to inspire the reader at both the beginning and the end of their day (and is super cute, so check it out here). The simple black and white illustrations alongside the short and poetic little blurbs differ from the conventions of many other self-help books. For example, most books include lots of outside research on the topic, personal reflections, quotes, bright colors, various graphics, and are generally written in a very conversational tone. These typical conventions can be seen in “The Happiness Hack,” where author Ellen Petry Leanse talks about how to break away from our addictions to technology and how to gain happiness and focus in return. This book is much more research-based than “GMorning, GNight!,” making me wonder if there really is a correct way to write a self-help book. Can simply making a point about how a person can rethink a certain topic make it a self-help book? I’m starting to think it does, because new ideas can also make people better themselves and rethink some aspect of their life, it doesn’t always have to be driven by research.

I’m still brainstorming how im going to create my own self-help book, but hopefully it’ll make you think and question yourself. Just what we all need right now, right? 

Introducing Me

Not to start this post on a tangent and a major throwback, but after typing out the title of this post I can’t help but think of Nick Jonas singing to his forbidden girlfriend in Camp Rock 2. Maybe all introductions should just be like his – a song filled with plenty of information to really get to know someone within the two minutes you are listening to it (after all, his song is called ‘Introducing Me’). Either way, now I have that song is stuck in my head…

Nick Jonas aside, here we are trying to introduce ourselves while not knowing what all to include, how much to share, and what constitutes a ‘good’ fun fact to share. Is being a dog person a good enough fun fact? Or maybe I should talk about how I worked as a camp counselor over the summer? Or maybe I could mention my love for art? Oh, I know! I should talk about how I met Reggie the Corgi for the first time yesterday.  In all honesty, I could talk about each of those facts plenty, but they only show a little bit of what makes me, me. 

Like most people, I still don’t really know what I want to do with my life, but then again, we have plenty of time to figure that out… right? I am currently studying Art and Design in Stamps and have a minor in PitE, so if you love artsy things or talking about the earth, I’m your girl (and because people usually follow up asking to see my art, here is the link to my website). I also have a love for writing, which I’m sure you already guessed. Where all my interests intersect is still a mystery to me, so if you happen to have any insights, please keep me updated. Please

Outside of class I accidentally start dancing to the music from my headphones in the middle of the diag, travel with my family, spend time with friends, love to be outdoors, and have an addiction to ice cream. As a matter of fact, my roommate just walked in and handed me a bowl of mysterious red ice cream and told me to eat it. Turns out it’s Flaming Hot Cheetos flavored, and I think the idea that ice cream can taste like Hot Cheetos and has real pieces of Cheetos in it is grosser than how it actually tastes. Since when is ice cream chip favored?! All I can say is, try at your own risk. 

Despite my most recent ice cream adventure, when I think about the upcoming year I can’t wait for all the exploring that is ahead of me. Pushing myself to try new things, both in my daily life and in my writing are two things I am looking forward to, and I really can’t wait to see where it takes me!