About ten years ago, I came up with a concept for a children’s literature series. Inspired, I suppose, by the success of many series books, from “Curious George” to “Nancy Drew.” I nonetheless thought I saw an absence in the genre. There have been plenty of series books which involve a lead character experiencing various adventures of a similar kind, e.g., mysteries, fantasies. There have also been plenty of books which follow a lead character as that character ages. The “Harry Potter” series is a prime example. But has there ever been a literature series which progresses only in its level of sophistication as its readers age? In other words, is there a series with essentially the same story, but delivered to children at their age-appropriate level from the first year of their life to age 17?
To implement this concept, writers and graphic artists would need to have a strong understanding of childhood intellectual and emotional development. I have neither. All I have is this concept.
So, over the years, I have told people “I have a concept that is brilliant, but just needs several people of great skill to carry it out.” I’ve taken it to writer friends. To lawyers to understand whether the “concept” is patentable (it is decidedly not!). To artists. To publishers. The response has been consistent: “Interesting idea, Daniel, why don’t you do it?”
Well, the obvious answer is that I lack the skills and discipline to pull it off. But then I just realized. Hey, I have a blog now. I can send this out to the vast array of my readership (ok… probably about 30 folks, most of whom have already heard this nonsense and most of whom don’t actually read everything I put out here), and see if anyone is open to changing the world.
And with that…here are some details of my publishing concept. Anyone is free to use it, no credit or financial renumeration required.
Here is the distinctiveness of the concept:
- We are talking about a publishing series; not just a “book” series. It would be made up of individual publishing events. Each event would indeed include in form a book. But it would also have derivative forms online of ancillary documents, games, other elements.
- Each event would be geared to a specific child’s age. The first event would be for a 1-year-old. the second event for a 2-year-old. The third would be for a 3-year-old… and it would continue up until at least age 13. It could proceed to as far as 17. The content and style of each publishing event would be age-appropriate consistent with the best understanding from the fields of children’s literature, education, as well as psychology/sociology.
- For each event, the story would be essentially the same. But it would be at an intellectual level that made sense. Thus, the first “book” could have brilliant colors, shapes, faces, and other images with only single words associated with each “page.” But as the sophistication of the story increases with age, there would be more than clear continuity of story line. It would essentially be the same story, with greater and greater depth revealed.
- Each event would be revealed once per year. There would be an initial cohort of children who could look forward to the next installment happening next year – hence the creation of a publishing “event” – building excitement for the next installment.
Execution of the Concept
- It is desirable – but not required – that the same illustrator would be retained for all events.
- It is desirable, but not required – that a different writer/narrator be retained for each event.
In that way, children would have the maximum sense of continuing a journey with familiarity, but also be experiencing a new and creative take on the same story. From a writer’s point of view, it could be exciting to be a part of a successful series, and have responsibility to both the truth of the work of fellow writers, and at the same time, advance the story in unique ways that others would need to work with as each reader ages. From a publishing point of view, it would also be essential to have the very best writers of literature directed at certain ages. Thus, someone who would be best for a 3-year-old, may not be best for a 13-year-old.
Value of the Concept: A Hopeful Conceit
This publishing concept could be international in scope, translated into multiple languages and published throughout the world. The theme and story line would ideally be a basis for expressing universal truths about humanity, and about the process of growing into adulthood. If successful, it would be:
1. A means of continuity throughout anyone’s childhood.
2. Something to look forward to as one ages.
3. Something to share between siblings and friends of different ages.
4. Something that binds people together of different cultures, languages and times.
There. It’s out to the world. I am curious though, whether it is a concept that is truly unique. Or if, somewhere, somehow, such a series now exists.