As an experienced primary school teacher and mum of four, I know the importance of inspiring a love of books from an early age. I have read a great many children’s books and enjoy sharing them. Of course, it is not just about the story and pictures; it is about that moment of connection with those you are sharing the book with too.
Young children love books for many reasons. It can be that the subject matter connects with them; or that it fires their imagination, enabling them to venture into another world; but it can also be because of that moment they share with you as the reader. Snuggling up and sharing a story with your child is for anytime, not just bedtime (though of course, that can be a very lovely way for you and them to end their day).
When inspiration struck for my children’s book, Finding a Friend, it was as I had finished reading a story to my then five-year-old son. I was looking at a photograph in his bedroom, of him with our much-loved chocolate Labrador, who had recently passed away at the grand old age of sixteen. The two of them shared a close bond, and I thought how lovely it would have been if they had grown up together. The first verse sprung to my mind, and I kept going, hurriedly noting it down soon after. It was one of those moments that just clicked for me as a writer, the inspiration, the words and enough time to record them, coming together.
Once I had most verses written, I worked on it, deploying my knowledge of developing early literacy skills to ensure the language of the text was rhythmic, rhyming and repetitive. I wanted the text to inspire children to join in, anticipate and repeat words and phrases. For little ones, reading can be more fun if it is a shared experience.
When it came to illustrating the book I knew I wanted Drew Bristow, who created the cover image for my novel Crazy Over You, to create the puppy, while it was important to me that the boy was based on my son (the picture that had inspired me remaining in my mind). I was delighted with the result. Drew’s effortlessly emotive illustrations mean young children can interpret and discuss the puppy’s range of thoughts and feelings throughout the book. The pictures are bright and colourful and appeal to the book’s young audience.
I have recently been into Jelly Tots Childcare in Littlehampton to share the story and was delighted with the response from the children. I look forward to doing more nursery and school visits in the coming school year. Finding A Friend has received great feedback from NetGalley and is beginning to get some lovely reviews on Amazon. While I never planned to write a children’s book at this time, I am very happy with the result and now look forward to venturing into the world of children’s books once again in the future.
To find out more about books by Carol Thomas:
When Little Pup finds himself at the shelter,
he doesn’t know quite what to do.
Big dogs all around, feeling lost and alone,
Little Pup needs a friend… but who?