What is your favorite childhood story? Why is it your favorite? I never tire of hearing the answers to these questions; each of us has our own story to tell, and the answers to questions such as these always have an interesting “because” appended to them. We may find that some childhood memories become hazy as the years pass, but folks can always remember their favorite books. Beloved books stay with us forever.
I’m often asked what inspires me to write kids’ books. There are many reasons. One is related to the discussion above: I want to write stories that kids will remember fondly, stories so engaging that even the most reluctant reader will persevere. Another is the fact that I know what a tough, special job parenting is.
The enormity of what parents need to teach children before sending them out into the world can be staggering to contemplate. Lessons about life can be hard to talk about, and even harder to teach in a way that reaches a child’s heart. How can parents make the most of their time with their children, and make sure children are well-equipped to face the challenges of life on their own?
In a word, stories. When parents read stories with their children, it allows them to spend time with their kids enjoying fun tales of humor and adventure, and it presents parents with the opportunity to teach vital life lessons at the same time. Reading great stories together optimizes the limited time parents have with their kids before they’re grown and gone. Teaching with stories allows parents to use beloved, relatable characters to prepare their children for future experiences.
When considering what types of stories I wanted to write, I thought back to my own childhood. As a boy, I was inspired by strong characters such as Horatio Hornblower by C.S. Forester. When Horatio faced overwhelming odds, or even failure, he always strove to make good choices. What appealed to me the most? Horatio had a strong sense of personal identity, and never lost sight of the fact that living his best life meant being true to himself and the values he held dear.
My favorite childhood stories featured adventure, self-discovery, friendship, coming-of-age, and facing one’s fears. I loved these stories because they depicted many of the same situations and feelings I struggled with, yet their characters discovered their strengths and made a difference in their world. Little did I know then that I had discovered what is called a ‘hero of self-reference’, or a character I could truly identify with because they faced the same things I did. My heroes of self-reference even helped me identify and find the words to express my own feelings.
Today’s “heroes” mostly embody a different sort of ideal: one where the primary coping skills for living involve superpowers or even magic. While millions are entertained by such stories, themes such as these do little to prepare kids to cope realistically with real life events or feelings like bullying, learning challenges, frustration, sadness, fear, or the need for stick-to-itiveness. Children need to learn how to cope with these matters in real-world ways, because they will face them in the real world.
“Fortitude, good will, and friendship triumph in this enjoyable story.”Publishers Weekly
I want the Sir Kaye, the Boy Knight series of middle-reader novels for children to embody the same values as my favorite childhood stories and characters. The Sir Kaye books, starring the young knight Sir Kaye, are fun, exciting adventures that appeal to even the most reluctant reader. Kaye’s beloved but absent father is his inspiration, and he strives to meet challenges with the values his chivalrous father taught him. His best pal, Reggie, who is dyslexic, also discovers his own strengths and weaknesses, and surprises himself by his ability to make a difference. This series is unique because it features characters learning to do the right thing without magic or superpowers. These young heroes deal with internal questions and uncertainty as they work through the events they face, and each one finds his own way. The books are fun and enjoyed by any reader, but are particular favorites of kids who need heroes of self-reference for dyslexia, learning challenges, absentee parents, those who are targets of bullying, or kids with low self-esteem.
What can you look for in the Sir Kaye books?
In book one, The Knighting of Sir Kaye, Kaye is an ordinary boy who likes exploring and dreams of being a legendary knight like his father. But good knights are hard to find in Knox since the king died. When the new queen knights Kaye for doing a brave deed to help another person, he gets his wish a lot sooner than he expected. Being a knight is a dream come true for Kaye…but he’s got a lot to live up to. Can he hold his own against all the other knights who hate him? Can he outwit the terrible Sir Melchor and defeat him in the deeds-at-arms competition that all knights in the kingdom must participate in? Can he help the queen save her kingdom…even a little bit?
The Knighting of Sir Kaye Awards: IndieReader Discovery Award, Moms’ Choice Award Gold, Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Silver, Wishing Shelf Award Silver, Voyager Marble Award.
The adventure continues with book two in the Sir Kaye series, The Lost Castle Treasure. The treasure house of Knox castle is empty! Now conspiracy and war threaten the kingdom while mysterious noises and unexplained events fill the castle. As best friends Kaye, Reggie, and Beau search for the missing treasure, jealous knights plot to get rid of Kaye for good. Can Kaye find the treasure in time to save the kingdom? Or will he risk losing his knighthood forever? Join Kaye, Reggie, and Beau as they search for hidden clues, secret passages, a lost castle treasure, and their place in the world in this fast-paced adventure.
The Lost Castle Treasure Awards: Mom’s Choice Award Gold, Wishing Shelf Award Finalist, Readers’ Favorite Award Finalist, IndieFab Book of the Year Award Finalist
Legend of the Forest Beast is the third book in the Sir Kaye series. Kaye’s tutor is missing! Kaye, Reggie, and Beau set out to find him. Vanishing sheep, rumors of a mysterious beast, and one very determined girl make this an adventure of a lifetime.
Every family is busy these days, and quality time with children needs to count on multiple levels: not just for fun and nurturing, but also as an opportunity to find out what kids are thinking and feeling as you explore stories and situations together. Reading great books together and talking about them can give your children direction they will remember for a lifetime. Help them develop a strong sense of self as you prepare them for their best life.
Please leave a comment and share your favorite childhood stories. What books hold a special place in your heart and why?