My husband and I started reading to our children very early on. Now, “book time” is a major part of our bedtime routine. I was completely delighted to find a book that highlighted a part of my kid’s heritage in such a fun way. “Anya Goes To Jamaica” is a real gem! My little ones followed Anya and her magic globe on a journey to their dad’s home country. The authenticity and details made us feel like we where there with her. The book even highlights a local merchant that makes banks out of bamboo which my son has one of.
Nikko FungChung, the author, is a busy mom just like me. She was gracious enough to share her inspiration, experiences and goals with us. Here you go:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing actually wasn’t something I ever considered prior to 2013. After having my daughter who has a very diverse background and a unique look – I began to notice how little children’s literature there was that represented her. It all started out of a desire to give her something that would make her feel special and confident and embrace her unique hair, features and culture. I’ve always been in the creative realm and many of my businesses in the past have revolved around my creativity so when I got the idea of for this Children’s Book the process just flowed.
You’re a working mom and wife – when do you find the time to write?
I actually did most of my writing in 2014 – I wrote what I now consider the framework or outline for 42 countries. I would write on my lunch breaks at work or when my workload was light. I never tried to get any writing done at home because my mind could never be fully focused there. Even now, I still have a hard time balancing life, work and my life-work – but I have a determination to bring this brand worldwide, into classrooms and use it to impact real change. This determination gives me that extra energy I need to push through late nights and early mornings to get everything done.
How did you come up with the idea of your book series?
While looking for a way to teach my children about their own diverse heritage, I realized how this would also be a great opportunity to teach them about the cultures of others. I am a firm believer that learning about other people and cultures creates a world of acceptance.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think what surprises me most throughout this journey, is how many people truly appreciate and understand exactly what I am trying to build with this brand. It’s obvious that there was a need to fill the gap between factual geography books and history books. By creating this book series, I am taking facts, history, culture, geography and presenting it in a kid-friendly format that will capture their interest and minds.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think the best Children’s stories have a balance of learning and fun. Whether it be a facts or a moral/social lesson, young readers should be able to take something away with them after the book is finished.
Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
The main message I hope to convey with this Book Series is that we are all different, but also very similar. I hope that by showing young readers how children in other countries live, eat, and play they will see the similarities and use them as a way to connect with people that they meet throughout their lives. This series is my way of making the world seem just a little bit smaller!
Where is Anya headed next?
The next book in this series is “Anya Goes to India”. It is scheduled for release in April 2017 and I think it is the perfect follow up to “Anya Goes to Jamaica”. The images that my illustrator, Fuuji Takashi, was able to create for this both books are absolutely captivating. She really brings the stories to life with color!
How can we encourage our kids to read more?
I think the most effective way to get your kids interested in books, is for you to show interest in books. Make trips to the library exciting, have quiet reading time, read together and even encourage them to write their own stories.
If you haven’t started reading with your children already, today is a great day to start and Anya’s World Adventures is an awesome series to follow. Head over to Amazon and order a copy. What’s your favorite children’s book? Share with us below.