EDUCATIONAL CONTENT in THUMBPIRE
Back when I was writing "Barney & Friends," I learned that the best way to work in educational material for children is to make it fun...and make it nearly invisible. By which I mean that the lessons are embedded in the context of the story, but aren't broken out in such a way that the educational material bogs things down, or sounds like lecturing.
And while the primary purpose of Thumbpire is to entertain, any children's book that I put my name on will also have carefully considered educational content woven into its fabric. That's my promise to parents and kids.
So what things do we see in THUMPIRE that are good for kids? Let's look...
• A truly warm and supportive family unit in which both parents are equally involved in parenting.
• "Thumby" is never teased or punished for his thumbsucking; rather everyone (and I mean everyone) simply tries to help him attain his goal of growing vampire fangs.
• A visit to the dentist at which we can see that "Thumby" isn't afraid - which is good modeling for young readers.
• Monsters? Scary? Not in this book! Part of the goal here is to show that (like in Sesame Street™ or Monsters, Inc™) "monsters" don't need to be a cause for childhood fears.
• Problem-solving behaviors are modeled in the story; trying different things, checking results, and moving on to new efforts. Additionally, "failure" of any one attempt is not shown as a cause to give up.
• A personal favorite of mine: THUMBPIRE celebrates artistic expression in children (while simultaneously showing how good habits can supplant bad habits).
• Modeling of good manners and other pro-social qualities. Thumby exhibits gratitude towards his Granny Vamp, shares a special painting with her, and even remembers to say "thank you" for the unexpected benefits of her gift.
• Language development. Thoughout THUMBPIRE, careful attention is paid to rhyme, meter, and alliteration to make the story fun to hear and fun to read. Regular exposure to those building blocks in childrens books helps develop reading and cognitive skills in kids.
• Encouragement to use imagination. Not to editorialize too much, but one of my favorite things about children's picture books is how much of the action takes place in the young reader's mind. Which is why, in a world of children's ebook apps which are sometimes indistinguishable from games or videos, I've kept THUMBPIRE very "bookish" as a reading experience - albeit augmented with fun narration and sound effects to help stimulate the "theater of the mind" where kids can use their own imaginations to fill in the blanks.