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Kids yearn to know their place in the world and how THEY can make a difference


The Way We Were…

We adults grew up in a world where we actually referenced a big thick phone book to find someone’s address or flipped through the newspaper to find when a movie starts.

New Breed of Info Seekers

Today’s kids are a whole new breed of information seekers. They have the world available to them through a keyword search engine. And today’s kids can send pictures back and forth to a kid halfway across the world through a phone in an instant. It’s a smaller world, after all. And as a result of this, today’s kids want more from their books than Judy Blume, Nancy Drew and Star Wars gave us. They are yearning to know their place in their world and how THEY can make a difference in it.

Others Agree

Back in May, I attended a BookExpo (Washington DC) breakout session called Trends Impacting the Future of Children’s Publishing moderated by Dr. Mary Manz Simon, children’s market trend tracker with the following panelists:

·Kate Klimo, VP Random House/Golden Books

·Valerie Garfield, VP, Assc Publisher, Simon Spotlight and Little Simon, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Div

·Craig Walker, VP Editorial and Media, Trade Paperbacks, Scholastic

·Bruce Nuffer, President, Zonderkidz

The panel discussed the differences in this generation of kids and how publishing is changing because kids today are yearning to find their place in the world.

More Than Lemonade Stands
Recenting, I met with a few 3rd-5th grade kids. They and their parents had gathered to meet me in a “meet the author” event. We chatted in a conference table in a room with a white board. I asked them, “Now that you have read the book, do you want to own your own business one day?” They said they did. “What sort of business would you like to have?” I asked.

The first boy said he wanted to own a motorcycle store. So, I drew his motorcycle shop up on the white board with motorcycles and stick people customers. Another kid wanted to own his own outdoor/hunting store. So, I drew that up on the board, across the street from the motorcycle shop. The third kid wanted to own a hardward/software store. “Well, that’s perfect! Because the motorcycle store and the outdoor/hunting store will need hardware and software to run their store,” I said, explaining the relationship between customers and vendors. And so it went.

The kids were so engaged in the moment. They could envision their place in the world, and they could do it with their peers. They had a dream to work towards.

At the end, a mother asked the kids, “Ok, what words did you learn today?” The first kid shouted, “Entrepreneur!” and the next said, “Brainstorming!” As I watched big grins take over the kids faces and the eyes of the parents sparkle, I felt an enormous amount of energy in the room, and I thought back to the long nights and weekends I had spent alone typing at my computer, writing Tyler and His Solve-a-matic MachineThe hairs raised on my arms at this moment when I realized we really do have the power to make a difference in kids’ lives and the future of America.

Check it out: Ramit Sethi blogs about an experience he had when he visited a group of kids to teach them about entrepreneurship.

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