One of my summer reading discoveries is Darlene Foster’s six-volume Amanda series. I’m a teacher-author so I’m always eager to find fresh books that my K-8 students will love. When I came across Darlene on her blog, Darlene Foster’s Blog, I have to admit, I was really excited. I’d never found a children’s travelogue series that would appeal to kids the same way fiction does. This series does. In it, kids travel all over the world, to those names that excite every adult–Amanda on the Danube, Amanda in Arabia, Amanda in Alberta, as well as three more fun world locations.
I asked Darlene if she would mind doing an interview for my blog–just one question. That’s all I had:
How do you create readers for life?
Because that’s what these books have the power to do–turn kids into readers. Here’s her answer:
Writing for children is important to me because I want children to develop the same love of books I had as a child. Like many avid readers, I began my love affair with books at a young age. Some of my fondest memories are being read to by a family member, visiting the library for the first time, and discovering the ability to read by myself. I still have worn copies of favourite childhood books and revisit these old friends from time to time as a reminder of that happiness. Books and children go together like peanut butter and jelly. And that love of books carries on into adulthood.
Reading books took me out of my limited world and to places far away, opened my mind and introduced me to new people, tastes, ideas and emotions. I recall once being engrossed in a story that took place in Japan when my mother asked me to set the table. I stood up and bowed to her as the children in the book did when addressing someone older. Stories not only enlighten children but provide an understanding of places and people that are different. It’s essential that children realize diversity. Books help demonstrate that although someone is different from them, they are not bad. This is crucial in a world full of news instilling fear in people, especially the impressionable young.
Writing for children is an important job and it can be fun, but it is not an easy job. To be effective, you must remove yourself from the adult world and think like a child. I like to hang around kids, listen to the words they use, observe their gestures, looks and trends. Children notice things adults wouldn’t and could care less about things adults think are important. It’s vital to get into their head space if you want to write for them. You will find they are amazing. While I’m writing, I get to be a kid again – and I love it!
I often revisit some of my old favourites like The Bobbsey Twins, Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, to remind myself what I liked about those books. I also read a lot of current children’s books to see what the kids like now. Things haven’t changed much, they still like strong characters that can solve problems with limited help from adults. They enjoy action and camaraderie, with some humour sprinkled in.
Children’s books create lifelong readers; readers who eventually buy adult books.
My readership includes anyone interested in travel, learning about other cultures and enjoys an adventure. Although these books are written in a style that children can easily read and understand, to my delight I find many adults enjoy them as well. One older gentleman said that Amanda in England – The Missing Novel was a ripping good yarn!
Adults should read children’s books as they often need to recover the capacity of imagination and fantasy they sometimes lose in the overly serious world of adulting. By looking at the world through children’s eyes, we can once again experience wonder, surprise and joy for the little things that are often the most important things at the end of the day. And we are never too old to learn about cultures and people different from us.
The main character in my first book, Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask, is a bored Canadian girl who wishes for travel and adventure on her twelfth birthday. The next day she receives a ticket in the mail to fly to the United Arab Emirates to visit her aunt and uncle. There she has an adventure of a lifetime. One young reader said, “I want to know where Amanda will travel to next.” That motivated me to write Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting. I had so much fun writing about Amanda, her travels and escapades that I continued by writing Amanda in England-The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta-the Writing on the Stone, Amanda on the Danube-The Sound of Music and Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind. Where will it end? I don’t know but I have an important job to do and many more ideas for Amanda. I am currently working on book number eight.
A grandmother who purchased my Amanda Travels series sent me this email:
My 12-year-old granddaughter just finished your books. She loved them. We were camping and we kept telling her to put the books down and come and play. This is the first time I have seen her get so excited about a book. Your books have given her a love of reading. Thanks for the good reads.
This made me extremely happy as my goal is to help create a love of reading in young people. We writers of children’s books are creating readers for life. It’s an important job and one I am happy to continue working at for a long time
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L’Engle
Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, traveling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series about a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers from seven to seventy enjoy traveling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. A world traveler herself, Darlene spends her time in Vancouver, Canada and the Costa Blanca, in Spain.
Where to buy the Amanda books
More author interview
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature collection. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. Look for her upcoming trilogy, Crossroads, eta Spring 2018