I’m not a kid by a long shot, but I simply love children’s picture books. I think it’s the colorful covers and maybe it’s also because they encourage children to read which is a big thing in my book. Our guests today are Joanne Larcom and Robyn Sims, authors of the brand new children’s picture book, Ben’s School Daze. Robyn is a paediatric occupational therapist who works in private practice with many children with sensory processing challenges. She is co-director of Magnetic Moves and co-presents workshops on SPD. Joanne is a mother to four beautiful children, one of whom has sensory processing challenges. She is co-director of Magnetic Moves and presents workshops on SPD with Robyn.
Thanks for this interview, Joanne and Robyn! Can both of you tell us how you got started writing children’s books?
Joanne & Robyn: We are sisters and for the longest time we talked about writing children’s books together. Initially we went down another path and started a business educating parents and teachers on sensory processing challenges.
Ben’s School Daze was born out of of a desire to help parents and teachers better understand these sensory kids. It also provides a story book to help sensory kids themselves identify with Ben. We took on board all that we learnt from attendees at our workshops and the personal experience we had of one of us being a mother with a sensory child (Jo) and the professional experiences as an Occupational Therapist (Robyn).
This topic for us is both personal and an integral part of our business. We were passionate about sharing information about the ’sensory children’ in the community. By this we mean children who are overwhelmed by the information they receive through their senses, who can’t tune out to irrelevant information or feel sensations differently to others. This reflects in their behaviour and they are often labelled ’naughty or challenging’.
Can you tell us what your new children’s book, Ben’s School Daze, is all about?
Joanne & Robyn: Ben School Daze is about Ben, a lively an active boy, who finds the sensory experiences within his day to be overwhelming. Loud noises vibrate through his body and “shoes and socks bother him… they never feel just right”. This can make it hard for Ben to be a good student. However, his teacher and mum know what to do to help him through his day.
At the end of the book there is information on what is Sensory Processing Disorder and classroom strategies to help children like Ben through a school day.
Can you tell us a little about your publisher?
Joanne & Robyn: After investigating many publishing options we elected to self publish under our company “Peence & Rogue Designs Pty Ltd”. We have found this process to be educational and rewarding. We had a great graphic designer who supported us through the process.
What was the hardest part about bringing Ben’s School Daze to life?
Joanne & Robyn: As this was a first book for us, every step along the way required a lot of research, from the paper quality through to getting the content just right. Writing the actual story just flowed for us as it is something that we live and breath everyday.
What part of the publishing process surprised you?
Joanne & Robyn: We did a lot of research into publishing companies and eventually took a leap of faith and self published. As an Australian company we found the whole process to be relatively smooth. This was a relief and we are now excited about the prospect of future books.
What do you believe is the better social marketing platform (Twitter, FB, etc.) for you in regards to getting the word out about your book?
Joanne & Robyn: We are familiar with Facebook so tend to use this avenue. However, we would love the time to explore options of Pintrest and instagram.
If you could give one tip to aspiring children’s book authors, what would that be?
Joanne & Robyn: If you feel you have a message to get out there for parents or children alike, then believe in your story and take the leap. Even on the short journey so far we have learnt so much and feel that it has already been a rewarding experience.
What’s next for you girls?
Joanne & Robyn: Promote, promote, promote – Ben’s School Daze!
That aside we are busy continuing to run our workshops for parents and teachers. We are also slowly expanding our online store of sensory products at www.magneticmoves.com.au and of course we have several more books in the pipeline. Now that we’ve been through the process once, we are looking forward to the journey of our next book.