A Writer in Wonderland

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By Ivanova Nono Fotso, Cameroon

I know a young woman who has many grown-up responsibilities: university studies, work, chores, volunteering and church. Yet unbeknownst to the rest of the world, this young woman has a secret room in her heart. In that room, she revisits the world of a five year-old girl, filled with wonder at seeing a butterfly, running after a cat, dancing in front of the mirror and enjoying cartoons. That little girl also enjoys spending time with her invisible Father, telling Him about her day, and allowing Him to soothe her heart with His unconditional love.

This is my reality as a children’s author. It’s like sharing time between my young readers and the child in me. While translating Sunday school curriculum, the truth of a lesson, “God hears our prayers,” boosts my faith. As I write my children’s book, “Don’t Be Afraid,” I myself find peace. Even in the simple act of writing memory verses for Christmas, my heart dances in the tinsel light of truth affirmed.

Some people say to me, “You write for children? It’s a good start. Keep working, you will soon be able to write for adults.” They don’t hear the little girl in me chuckling. She knows she will always be ready to dance, skip and wonder.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Writing for children can help mold in us a loving and humble heart, an eagerness to learn, and trusting dependence on our Heavenly Father—all characteristics of little ones. Writing for children also gives us a glimpse of the greatest Wonderland, the kingdom of God.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me the privilege to write for children. Help me to seek you and to keep a trusting and humble heart.

This article was published in our unique book, Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 Devotions by global Christian writers.

Order your copy on SALE until 12/21 for only $9.99USD with FREE shipping within the USA.  Place your order now. Email: [email protected] or call 630.260.9063.  Light_Writers_Soul_MAI_2D

Ivanova Nono Fotso has written the children’s book, Même Pas Peur, short stories and articles for Jouv’Afrique and AMINA magazines, and parts of the comic collection Eclats d’Afrique. She resides in Cameroon.

Read more about Ivanova’s work in A Comic Strip That Borders Heaven.

 

A Comic Strip That Borders Heaven

Timazi Magazine of Kenya recently featured part one of “Big Day,” a comic stripcomic birthed by friendships made at MAI’s LittWorld 2012 conference. There John and Maggie Gathuku, who lead the Christian youth magazine, met Mexican illustrator José Carlos Gutiérrez (right in photo below) and author Ivanova Nono Fotso of Cameroon (left in photo).

José Carlos crafted illustrations for the comic script written by Ivanova, and submitted the comic to Timazi. When José Carlos’ computer crashed, Timazi’s designer in Kenya, James Njoroge, completed coloring the illustrations.

The seven-page comic, based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins, will be published in three issues of the magazine.

ivanova-jose-carlos-by-ian-darke-cropped-resized“This comic has a great emotional value since I started the drawings and sketches in a hospital room, a few months after returning from Littworld,” José Carlos said. His 21-year-old brother had been diagnosed with leukemia and began chemo treatments.

“He got saved in that same hospital as I prayed with him at the very beginning of his treatment,” José Carlos recalled. On the same day that his brother passed away, José Carlos completed inking the comic at the hospital.

Today comic books are the world’s most widely-read type of popular literature, capturing the interest of both children and adults. Christian publishers around the world are harnessing the genre to spread the Gospel.

Maggie hopes that “by reading this comic strip, students will understand and appreciate the message of our Lord Jesus Christ by preparing well for His coming.”

Sometimes God Surprises Us

By John D. Maust, MAI PresidentJohn 2015 headshot

Sometimes God surprises us by doing something we did not imagine.  Has such a thing happened recently in MAI’s work? A friend wanted to know.

One country came immediately to mind. Several years ago, we began doing some behind-the-scenes writer training in a closed nation of Southeast Asia.  Some gifted and committed writers began to emerge, and we thought it would be helpful for several to attend LittWorld in 2015 in nearby Singapore.  We hoped to provide scholarships for two or three.  But, generous donors seemed to emerge out of nowhere, and we were able to provide full conference scholarships for eight.

During LittWorld these eight emerging writers bonded in their friendship and shared passion for the ministry of the written word.  One said afterwards, “We now see that writing is a way to serve the Lord.  Before it had been a task we were assigned to do. Now it is a vision we are excited about. We are now so inspired to serve the Lord through writing!

“We’d never really seen the potential that writing has for reaching so many people in places where we ourselves cannot physically go due to time and other restrictions. The written word is powerful. And what a humbling privilege that we might become the authors of these written words.”

Following LittWorld, the writers organized a “writing for children” workshop, led by two MAI facilitators they met at the conference.  They also received graphic design training from a speaker they met at LittWorld 2015.  Today they are forming a fledgling publishing ministry called “Firefly.”  MAI will accompany them on their publishing journey, and we are eager to see what other surprises the Lord has in store for the writers group and Christian publishing in their country.

Unique challenges of creating kids’ books

A lot of people think creating kids’ books is easy. After all, they’re short, right? Not according to Stephanie Rische, senior editor and team manager for children’s books and nonfiction at Tyndale House Publishers. Kids’ books come with unique challenges. Watch this 3-minute video to learn more.

Consider the audience. For adult books, the same person buying the book is reading it. For kids’ books, a two-year-old isn’t going to walk into a store and buy the book. You must keep in mind three audiences:

The buyer. The person who will buy the book for the child. Is the title and cover appealing? Does the message appeal?

The reader. The person reading the book with the child. Books for kids have a “re-read” value. Unlike adult books, they can be read again and again with a child. Does the book appeal to the reader for re-reading?

The child. Not only do you want to communicate a message of faith, but one that’s engaging, fun and enjoyableStephanie Rische photo to read.

Register online now for Stephanie Rische’s upcoming MAI webinar, “Even Dr. Seuss Needed an Editor: The art of editing books for children,” on Tuesday, August 16, 8-9 a.m. CST.

This video was taken by TeamDavid at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

Producing Biblically-centered, Culturally-relevant Children’s Curriculum

Jeanette Windle is an award-winning novelist, author of 16 fiction titles, missions journalist, editor and collaborative writer. She grew up in South America, has lived in 6 countries and traveled in more than 30. Jeanette represents BCM International, whose core Genesis-to-Revelation children’s curriculum, Footsteps of Faith, and children’s ministry leadership training curriculum, In Step with the Master Teacher, has been reproduced in dozens of languages.  

Producing biblically-centered, culturally-relevant curriculum is neither as difficult nor as costly as you think. Click to watch this 5 minute video.

The purpose of a children’s curriculum is to help children know love and obey God.
Here are the core values that any curriculum for children needs to include:

  1. Bible centered. Curriculum is only as effective as it gives children the opportunity to engage with God’s Word. This is even more so for kids who are not from a Christian background. Center on a chronological presentation of God’s Word.
  2. We teach for response and application. It needs to be a living story for today’s children, interactive and relevant to their lives.
  3. Holy-spirit dependent. Remember the Holy Spirit is the Person who changes lives and impacts hearts. We can’t use curriculum to pressure or push children to make decisions.
  4. Culturally relevant. Even when writing for children within one country, remember that children may be from non-Christian homes, be at risk and dealing daily with great tragedies.
  5. Financially and physically practical. Most effective curriculum is not dependent on space, personnel or resources. Remember that your Bible content centers around the Bible story. Create a Bible toolbox to augment the basic story according to the group size and resources.

In summary, you can make your curriculum easily affordable and widely used among a variety of children.

How do you write a children’s curriculum?
One lesson at a time. Every lesson has five parts:

  1. One Bible truth and one way for a child to respond to each lesson
  2. An intro to pull children into the lesson, whether drama, questions, role play or…
  3. Bible content based on careful study of Scripture
  4. Summary/application that takes the Bible content and applies it to where the child is today
  5. The response activity—what the child can take away and apply immediately to their lives

This video was shot by Team David Films at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.