A mother’s story.

Elisabeth SalisI’m honoured to have been invited by André Klein to share my daughter’s book publishing story on LearnOutLive. It’s a story about joy in learning, love of books, and a little girl’s passionate business idea.

It all started one day when she came home really excited because she’d written a story in school. When she showed me the story, all I could say was ‘this is just the first chapter …”. She looked at me oddly in a goose-pimply way and answered ‘That’s exactly what my teacher said’. Then she said ‘I have something to do’ and ran off into her bedroom, only to reappear a couple of hours later, with a secretive look on her face.

A few days later, Elisabeth and her little brothers and sisters ( seven year old twins and six year old baby sister) held a secret meeting on the beach and announced that they were setting up a secret business. We weren’t allowed into Elisabeth’s bedroom during their ‘business hours’, which turned out to be about two hours a day every day from September to Christmas 2012 – just before 2013 chimed in last year. On Christmas Day, the four children then presented us with their books. It was a magic moment and we were so proud of all of them. It wasn’t just that they’d wanted to write books or have a secret business, it was the way they had worked together for months according to a schedule and hadn’t given up on their dream.

My eldest daughter Elisabeth and the twins published their books in Greek paperback version in January 2013. My youngest had created an alphabet book and it won’t be long till her skills are up to publishing too.

Elisabeth Salis

Elisabeth’s school held a book signing day for her where parents came in and some classmates bought books. She was also invited to a book writer’s exhibition where she presented her book and read her story to a packed audience. The event was covered in the local papers too. Since then Elisabeth’s teacher Eleni Papayiorgiou has done great work encouraging other children in the school to start reading and writing. Another boy, Dimitris Dadalis who is 11 years old, won a writing competition and published his own book, meetings were held to encourage parents to buy and share more books for their kids, and another book exhibition is planned for the upcoming Christmas celebrations.

Elisabeth Salis

Not to be outdone, my son Poseidonas decided to take some of his own limelight and went up to the stage area without being asked, grabbed the mike, and started reading out his story too. Many people were surprised because they were still trying to grasp the fact that a ten year old had written a book, and didn’t know where this little man had sprung out from. His twin sister, Thalassini, was too shy to read hers out.

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My kids have written more books since then, and Poseidonas is waiting for me to publish his new comic book series in digital format. Later there was book signing and speaking to the local kids who had hundreds of questions to ask.

Sylvia Guinan and children

The Magic Roots is the English translation of Elisabeth’s book and is in ebook format for the first time. It’s a fantasy story about magical creatures who are on a mission to reveal the ultimate secret of the forest through adventurous quests and challenges. It’s a children’s book written by a child for children. It captures the essence of certain things that adults can only grasp at, because a child sees and feels things differently. Yet, it’s wise enough to please an adult reader too.

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As André Klein describes in his review:

“I wish there were more stories like these: written for children, by children. The original illustrations are beautiful, especially on full color screens. Regarding the story itself, I can only say: read it and delve into an enchanted forest filled with quirky creatures and an inquisitive band of intrepid young travelers.”

As an Edupreneur who teaches, blogs, writes, and organizes professional development online with international colleagues, I’ve been wanting to do my own publishing for quite some time. André Klein at LearnOut Live has given me invaluable advice from the start and everything I learnt about publishing came from LearnOutLive. My kids and André have definitely been giving me a push in the right direction, and my kids say to me – “If we can do it, so can you.

How did it all REALLY begin?

It seems to me that having a number of siblings growing up in the same house who are close together in age is a magic ingredient for learning. If the first child learns to love reading and shares this with siblings, that’s when the magic happens. My two magical tools for child-raising are books and art. As well as writing and reading a lot, they are developing strong artistic skills. I experienced large family inspiration when I was a child growing up with seven siblings, and have warm memories of all of us around the table, drawing and playing lego.

As large families are unfeasible for most people these days, I strongly advise parents and schools to get together for community project work. Play dates for reading, art and drama could emulate the sibling effect. If teachers advised parents about creative home learning activities we could bridge the gap between home/school and motivation.

Here are some tips based on my experience and on many parenting and educational psychology books that I’ve read.

1) Read to your baby from day one. New born babies respond to your voice, tone, and vibes. It’s never too early to begin. If you have older kids and want them to read more, try using comics or digital story-boarding tools if they refuse to read books. This could be a great topic for another article as I have very definite ideas for reluctant readers.

Sylvia Guinan

Elisabeth at eight months old

2) Build your baby book library.

As soon he/she they can hold something buy some baby books full of pictures for your child.

3) What if they eat the books?

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You may experience problems when they get to the book-eating stage – when everything they see is something to be eaten – the cookie monster effect. My twins literally guzzled their way through Elisabeth’s books indiscriminately. What we did then was hide the books before they were all destroyed and we started oral story-telling activities. This was probably the most important part of their development with regard to creativity. We told each other so many stories in so many different ways.

4) Lead by example.

Of course, in my household it was easy for the children to be influenced as I’m a book worm myself, with a taste for all that’s quirky and creative. In some homes religion or football serve to represent revered ideals for a child’s upbringing. In my home, books and learning replace religion and football. Of course upholding morals and playing sports are also important things that we do, but nothing can be fully appreciated in life without a critical mind, confidence, imagination and the art of self-expression.

5) Have fun.

Once children discover that learning is fun, then they become self-organised learners. I wrote about this in a recent article when I examined ideas expressed by David Deubelbeiss and Sugata Mitra. These, days my kids are racing ahead of me and I’m struggling to keep up. When they were toddlers I was racing to keep them out of mischief. Little did I know how happy I’d be to be still racing after their thousands of drawings, stories and self-organised antics to this day.

Remember!!

Show them the fun and they’ll do the rest.

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You’ve been reading a guest post by Sylvia Guinan

Sylvia Guinan

Sylvia Guinan has a degree in English literature and has been teaching for fifteen years. She began teaching online in 2010 and is particularly interested in brain-friendly learning methods,tools, environments and communities.

Website & Blog: sylviasenglishonline.org

Twitter: ESLbrain