Why we're disrupting the time-honoured legacy of kids' books
Words are, indeed, the most delicate thing we can offer our children, just as language is one of the most powerful tools they’ll develop in the first couple of years of their life.
Reading to kids can be fantastical, imaginative and exploratory, and quickly becomes a go-to activity in idle moments and in the wind-down before bedtime.
Personally, I have always adored words; gathering new ones, invigorating old ones, and gently encouraging them to hold hands. As a deeply-introverted teenager and young adult, I crafted hundreds of poetic works, hoarding them in drawers beside my bed, searching endlessly for synonyms of adjectives that might more fluidly intertwine the lines. In recent years, I have finally done something with them, sharing them at intimate events and leveraging them to celebrate life, love and unexpected departures.
Words change when you have children, though. You enunciate them more deliberately, adorn them with even more meaning, and celebrate them more vigorously when your child finds them for the first time. This has been a process that’s fascinated me and caused me many sleepless nights while pouring over an endless thinking menu of ways kids can be even more empowered by words.
And, thus, so comes Ethicool, a manifestation completely unlike any of my sleepless musings, but one that neatly interweaves all of them.
I’ve read hundreds of children’s books and been overjoyed by many, but underwhelmed by even more. The subconscious notion that trivial topics and superficial events are all the young mind can absorb is something which simply doesn’t reconcile for me. The millions of hours taken by parents across the world to read to their children are almost always magical and theatrical, and yet they can be purposeful, too.
As idealistic as it sounds, think of a world where more parents engage their children in stories about climate change, about the unnecessary use of plastic, about the presence of toxic masculinity, greed, and political corruption. And then think of the subsequent questions and conversations that can arise from these stories, galvanising their place in kids’ minds, serving as a sounding board for the decisions they make and the issues they choose to confront, as they grow through life’s undulations.
Ethicool exists to enable these conversations, to creatively join the playfulness of stories with the heavier thematic undertones of the world our kids are born into. We write with this duplicitous intention in every picture book we have and will produce, and then extract it visually through the illustrations we painstakingly document and commission thereafter.
It’s a meticulous process, but a beautiful one – notably more so than writing a novel (which, speaking from experience, is generally less rewarding). The feedback from families that have sought to better equip their children for the world’s perils is endearing and uplifting, as is the pleasure of captivating my own children in the words from my very hands.
Ultimately, though, there is nothing more engaging than working within a field that is your eternal passion: words; children; design; environment – they’re all intrinsic to the Ethicool mantra.
I do hope you enjoy our books. And I hope your children enjoy them more – after all, the world needs them to.