Last Saturday ArtsObispo sponsored Passport to the Arts for families. Designed to have children and their parents become involved in the arts in San Luis Obispo, California, the program directed them to various events downtown.
I was at the local library showing children how to fold various book forms and encouraging them to write and illustrate their own stories. I was delighted that a number of enthusiastic children and parents attended. We folded several accordion books forms and talked about where story ideas come from. I encouraged parents to immortalize their children’s stories by copying, self-publishing and other means. I hope the City and art community has another such event next year, and I encourage other cities to do the same. Beryl
I have often used self-publishing on sites like Blurb.com to finalize my children’s books. Children’s books are very specialized. Writing a manuscript is a different experience from writing and designing the actual book. A children’s book has illustrations (I do my own), a particular format, definite page breaks, etc. Using a self-publishing company with POD capabilities like Blurb, allows me to see how all these factors work together. I can see how the illustrations work with the text, whether or not I have 32 pages for a picture book, does the story follow logically, is the font size correct for the page size, how does the book look visually as well as how it reads, and do the illustrations print correctly in terms of color and saturation. Often, I will order a copy and see how it looks, and then I know what corrections are needed. My current publisher, Oak Tree Press, uses my illustrations and book designs. Even if I were to use a publisher that would hire an illustrator and editor, I think I would still go through this process. Basically, I want to see how my book might look in print.
When I do a book signing or other author event, I usually take some art supplies along to demonstrate book folding techniques. Children in particular are willing to try making a folded form and sometimes write or draw in their book as well. This gives the adults time to look at my books and hopefully buy one or take a brochure. I truly enjoy working with the children. They are so delighted to learn something new.
Last Saturday, one 10 year old girl spent a half of hour with me, folding her book, drawing and writing a story. She decided on a Halloween theme and called her book, “Candy Bat,” an appropriate title. She used my small, stuffed bat I had on display as a sample for her drawings. Whenever, she became stuck with her story, I helped her by asking questions like, “And then what happened?” or “Do you want to use dialogue?” I did sell a few books, but the best time I had was teaching book folding to young children.