Happy New Year, everyone! What are you most looking forward to in 2018? I’m looking forward to a year of creating fun with my grandchildren.
My granddaughter Keira Ely and I will be publishing a new installment of The Keira and Papa Detective Agency series, “The Case of the Golden Key.” I’m also making plans to write a new series, “The Amazing Ninja Brothers,” with input from my two grandsons, who will turn 6 and 8 this year.
Writing books with Keira has been a blast.
It started more than three years ago when she was visiting us in Connecticut during the summer. We would both get up at 5 in the morning and go down to the beach together. I was working on a novel of my own, and she and I started making up a story together. It was so much fun. Right off the bat I was amazed by her creativity and her sensitivity to children.
Now Keira is 10 and she wants to write books on her own. And my two grandsons, who live in Wayne, New Jersey, want to get into the writing game with me.
The Amazing Ninja brothers will be dedicated to helping kids understand other children who experience the world differently — whether it is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder), autism or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).
In the series, a grandfather gives his two grandsons two stones that were discovered years ago by their great-great grandfather. The two stones had belonged to two Ninja brothers. The stones bestow special powers, understanding and caring.
One grandson gets a green stone that allows him to see into the mind of a child who experiences the world differently; the other gets an orange stone that allows him to come up with an idea to help the child.
Like the Keira and Papa Detective Agency series and SuperClara, these books are inspired by my time playing and creating with my grandkids, and some of the issues they are dealing with. Like Keira, my two grandsons are amazingly creative. I love to engage their creativity just like I did with my two daughters back in the early 1980s (they grew up to be an architect and a veterinarian).
Are you looking for ways to better know your own grandchildren and what they love in life?
Here are three keys to creating together, whether it’s brainstorming ideas, writing a story or working on any creative project:
Listen nonjudgmentally, rather than correcting or challenging their ideas.
Sometimes grandparents feel the need to be disciplinarians, and in some cases that might be appropriate. But when sharing ideas, just listen, reflect, ask questions and build off their ideas. This always gets a creative dialogue going. The result is often something they can’t wait to share with their parents.
Kids are naturally reluctant to be open about what is bothering them. If you ask them how they are doing, the response will almost always be “fine.” Before they will be open with you, you will need to earn their trust. One way to do that is to be open about your own vulnerabilities. Kids often worry about loneliness, fear, and failure. Sharing a story about how you went through something similar when you were growing up is a good place to start.
Find ways to celebrate things they do well.
My younger grandson is a fabulous drummer who loves rock and roll; his brother is crazy about sports. Encourage them to express their own creativity. Putting on skits is a great way to do that. Be sure to be specific on the creative aspects that you thought they did well. Encourage your grandkids to share with you whatever it is they love to do.
Looking for more ideas? Check out InspireMyKids.com, a site dedicated to inspiring young people with ideas for parents, grandparents, educators and anyone who wants to help kids explore their interests and passions.
And please, share your ideas here so that other adults can learn from them.