A few weeks ago I took some vacation from my day job at IBM and spent a week with a primary school in the UK to embark on an extremely rewarding experience.
So why would I take a number of vacation days and dedicate it to a school?
The school had previously got in contact with me (as a children’s author), because the teachers were having different themed days celebrating the culture of the different languages (now 25) that are spoken at the school. They asked if I could read to the children on English day.
This was a simple enough request, as readings only take a few minutes, but the conversation took a somewhat unusual turn, as they started to enquire about the process of book creation.
Within minutes I found myself enthusiastically agreeing I would be delighted to help them bring out their own book and given the current theme, the subject was very quickly decided on as diversity.
Then something I hadn’t thought about, happened next.
“Well,” one of the teachers said, “we would have to involve all 330 children.”
I looked at both teachers, whom were wide eyed with excitement, but I needed clarification of the statement and quite slowly asked; “You want HOW many children involved?”
The reply hadn’t changed and whilst the teachers were chatting away about the possibilities and wonders of bringing out their very own book, my brain was racing with thoughts of “I’m not sure it’s possible…” and “how on earth?”
For me the publishing process tends to be;
- I write the story
- I work with my illustrator
- A lot of editing of both
- The book gets published
But to include 330 potential illustrators and authors seemed crazy. How could I possibly include that many people in one story?
The stop of chattering of the teachers brought my thoughts sharply back to their attention as I realised they were both waiting for a response from me.
“I’m not sure how I can include that many children…” I began to say, but one of the teachers sweetly smiled and explained that diversity in their school meant the inclusion of every child.
They were absolutely right. I had to find a way to achieve it.
In a few days time… you will see the result.