How To Make A Book About Your Grandchild
BY BARBARA SIMMONS
As the stay-at-home guidelines eliminated all in-person contact with my 6 grandkids, I FaceTimed them to ask: How about we write, one at a time, 6 individual books with each of your names in the titles and stories based on you as the star characters? The intent was for fun, and also to get the books published if possible, but if that didn’t pan out, they would have a cute book for themselves, forever.
A resounding “Yes” and we were off and running—virtually.
Essie,12 my eldest granddaughter’s picture book came first with the title, Essie Solves the Mystery Who’s Snoring ‘til Morning. Essie worked with me throughout the whole process from finetuning the rhyming to suggesting details for the illustrations, to reviewing every illustration, and then offering her incredibly great suggestions on the front and back covers, including her gem of an idea: “On the back cover, let’s invite the kids to find the snorer in the house with Essie, and so we wrote: Do you want to help Essie solve the mystery? Read the book and start your journey with Essie.
“Essie was so excited as were her sister and brothers as we all saw the book become a real live project completed.”
What was important to us both was added genuineness: Essie wears glasses, so that was part of the look we wanted. Essie is impish, curious, and brave, so that too was integral to her book-character.
Deciding on the book’s cover was a community effort- she asked kids–her friends, to choose between two possible covers and I asked my friends, grandparents, to do the same and, an almost unanimous decision was reached.
Researching illustrator-styles was super easy online—looking at artistic styles to determine the fit with what Essie and I envisioned, a chat on the phone with illustrator Chad Thompson, (we were in separate countries), and finally, Essie and I agreeing we loved his playful style, signed a contract where I owned the rights and he was fully paid for his fine work. Voila!
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Essie was so excited as were her sister and brothers as we all saw the book become a real live project completed. Now, self-published, and available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Booklocker, the reviews have been fun to read on those sites as well as on Goodreads.
Her brother Levi and sister Nechamas’ books are each now written in manuscript form and both kids offered their creativity and humor to make their books exciting, often based on true events.
To round out the “pandemic project,” the adventures of Shia, Yosef, and Zevi are in process of becoming a reality.
Writing picture books with grandkids can range from easy-to-do with paper and pen and hand-drawn -by- kid illustrations, or, they can be completed with an investment in self-publishing and hiring an illustrator (try your local high school’s art department to enquire about talented students in illustration), or, you can even try sending the manuscript to children’s book publishers.
The journey is what’s fun, and it is an activity grandkids and grandparents will, like this pandemic, never forget.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Barbara Simmons
Barbara holds a Master’s of Education degree. She was a counselor in elementary, university, and adult education, and enjoyed a dual career in writing for newspapers and magazines.
Forthcoming books include Leibush the Great, a chapter book for kids.