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  • Chryseis Knight

The choice of words matters

ABC, that is how it all starts. It seems educational and then, we string them and voila, words are rambling out, spiraling into a sentence. In the animal kingdom, communication is key, and the human race can’t deny this being a lion’s share of our DNA. As children readers we learn new words, we gain confidence through dancing our fingers through the board books about patterns, listen to bedtime stories and progress from children’s books and children’s toys to develop an imaginative world where we dance and play when we get our hands on that great novel and adventure time starts!

Reading is a gift. Our amazing neurons create beautiful patterns in our brain such that words now become magical. Words are no longer words. Words roar like the lion king! Words play like a knight during adventure time! And we escape from nature to a world of fiction. Words also serve to school us when used in an educational context. Math, Science, Literature, Art, History, Geography, Languages, and more. Learning happens through reading. What emerges in examining the educational aspect is the art and patterns of writing. This has been shared by numerous authors and great literary experts but to truly see this is when we read these books for ourselves and understand the ABC. The experience we get from reading a book, an article, a play, will never be the same as we are each in the assumption that we are the protagonist, the lion king in this animal kingdom. We have little understanding of others' experiences but as the lion king, we roar and assert to ourselves what we truly believe based on our experiences. How can this ever be little? We are the protagonist of this play. Our roar is our roar and that is the patterns of nature we perceive, and we know.

Through reading numerous children's books, we can formulate an idea about the art and nature of writing children's stories. One easy way to structure it can be in terms of setting, ala, bedtime stories.

If you analyze bedtime stories for instance and look at it from a structural approach, these books are often written for children readers. The words used are easy for kids to understand. These bedtime stories are often sized in an appropriate nature for kids’ little hands to grip onto these board books. Children’s toys can also help generate a relationship between the bedtime stories in the board book and the adventure time it leads as they hold onto these children’s toys. For instance, holding on to a lion as they read, play, and roar, imagining themselves as the brave and maybe even cute lion cub in a lion king inspired play.

That’s truly the old school approach that always works. But these days kids enjoy such cute bedtime stories even as an eBook where their little hands now grip an educational screen. An eBook is now getting the lions share of children's books. Even in school, in an educational setting, teachers make sure that the kids in their class are engaged. In preschool, ABC can be taught using an eBook. When going outside and exploring nature is difficult, the animal kingdom in its true nature can be experienced in full color and sound in little time through an easy click of a button on the eBook by cute little kids' fingers. It would be impossible to hear a lion roar in a board book, but this is certainly a reality in an eBook.

Just like how a school is an educational institution and a rite of passage, bedtime stories are a definite go-to, an easy way, the ABC or play for putting kids to sleep. But more than that, bedtime stories allow parents to approach various subjects that they could speak to their kids. For instance, it is easy to broach the subject about the first day of school through bedtime stories. Communication could also be improved as parents can use children's books to speak about sensitive issues like racism or discrimination. Values can be shared and played out through these children's stories. Bedtime is therefore an easy way to bring about issues like respect, humility, integrity, honesty, and more.

The art of writing can be something that can be learned and developed but more importantly it must come from within oneself. There may be numerous approaches for writing children's books but following the standard patterns of writing does little to ensure great writing that will evoke emotion and sentiment. It may be nature that selects brilliant writers but it could also be that the love for writing is so great that beautiful words play in nature. This is interesting to explore since recently there has been a surge of young authors from all around the world who have published short stories and even novels. An amazing child author, named, Chryseis Knight, wrote her book The Great Big Lion when she was only three years old. She did her book launch at the National Library Board in Singapore when she was only four years old! You can tell this little girl is simply gifted with her words. She could handle a room filled with curious kids and parents as well as the media that were there to capture the event. During an interview, Chryseis shared that her story was about the friendship between a lion and two children. The story brought out the importance of being inclusive, embracing differences, and accepting diversity. The book itself is eye-catching with the face of a cute lion on the cover page. Chryseis had written The Great Big Lion in a single day. Again she was only three when she wrote the book!

In 2018, when The Asian Parent from Singapore interviewed her parents, they got an insight into her upbringing. Chryseis fell in love with books from a young age and would be seen reading more than 5 books a day, jumping through stories throughout the day. She would leave her books opened, in the bedroom dining room, on the couch, the coffee table, her playmat just because she read them halfway. When other children wanted toys, Chryseis wanted more books. This cute, little girl started writing journals when she was two years of age and is perhaps the youngest published author in the world. It is of little surprise that Chryseis Knight is now a published author with Penguin Random House.

It is therefore not educational institutions like school that necessarily start one’s writing journey. School can engage kids and expose kids to a myriad of writing styles and to appreciate the art in writing. It is also important to recognize that every child is unique and that writing could come like second nature to some whilst others are still trying to master the ABC.

Nevertheless, children's books are enjoyed by all – kids and parents. In effect, the lion’s share of the decision of buying children's books seems to lie with parents. Hence writers too are cognizant of the fact that the writing should engage children readers as well as parents. Mummy and daddy must love the book too! The art needs to roar. The words need to play. The book must evoke emotion and bring about the essence of family bonding time – the best books would be board books or an eBook that are bedtime stories. Board books or an eBook because they have little damage with the repetition of reading a book over and over and bedtime stories because they allow kids to snuggle with their parents being as cute as they are whilst resting their little tired eyes over a good book that brings about warmth, love, togetherness.

Books do just that. We are never the same after reading a new book. We evolve ever so little one book at a time. We get nurtured by the experiences within the book, be it our first ABC book or through adventure time in a thrilling novel. We become new again and grow. That is the beauty of reading. The only thing more beautiful than that is writing.

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©2018 by Chryseis Knight